Dawn News

Misbah can learn a few things from Clarke

The ice under captain Misbah-ul-Haq’s feet became thinner than ever on Monday night when Pakistan suffered another series loss to Australia. Both teams had their chances of winning the Cool & Cool cup under extremely hot and humid conditions. Eventually, it was the team which held its nerves that came up trumps.

Pakistan fought hard in patches but when it really mattered most; chances were squandered as their captain, keeper and fielders cracked under pressure. On the other hand, Michael Hussey and Glenn Maxwell displayed serenity – almost an indifference of sorts. The game was over before it could reach its potential climax and so was the ODI series which the Australian won 2-1.

The series saw bowlers dominate on pitches that supported both spin and swing. Australia backed its fast bowlers, and their lone specialist spinner Xavier Doherty warmed the bench throughout the series. Man of the series, Mitchell Starc, being the pick of their bowlers registered his first five wicket haul in the first game and got four in the 3rd ODI. He was aided well by James Pattinson and Mitchell Johnson. This trio along with Pat Cummins recovering fast from injury can potentially form an extremely potent bowling attack for the Aussies in the future.

Pakistan, as expected, relied heavily on its spinner. A country which was once renowned for its fast bowling talent went into the final with one fast bowler and four spinners. This was clearly a defensive strategy which had been tested to similar results against England earlier this year. Saeed Ajmal, however, did not let his ICC award omission get to him and was at his wizardly best. He picked up 10 wickets with an economy rate of 3.41 and an average of 9.90. Mohammad Hafeez supported him and hardly gave away any runs. Shahid Afridi failed to impress and it seemed his fitness and focus were missing throughout the series.

While Junaid Khan showed promise, Aizaz Cheema and Sohail Tanvir looked pedestrian, giving away 144 runs without picking up a wicket; it is difficult to imagine Umar Gul being dropped for that combination again.

In bowling friendly conditions, Nasir Jamshed and Michael Hussey were able to guide their team home and win man of the match awards for the second and third ODI respectively. There were 10 half centuries scored in the series without a single century indicating the difficulty of settling down on slow surfaces under trying conditions.

The Australian openers failed to deliver in any of the games and remained a cause of concern. The Aussie batting lacks the big names it relied on so heavily for a good part of the last decade and the likes of George Bailey and David Hussey are finding it difficult to match their predecessors. The experienced shoulders of Michael Clarke and Michael Hussey gave the Australian middle order strength, accumulating 135 and 131 runs respectively.

The silver lining in the series for the Pakistan batting lineup was Nasir Jamshed with a run aggregate of 168 and a top score of 97. After questions about the role of Mohammed Hafeez as an opener, he finally came good in the last game, scoring a well-paced 78. Pakistan’s middle order of Azhar Ali, Asad Shafiq and Umar Akmal got starts but none of them were able to convert their innings into anything substantial. Shahid Afridi was a disappointment, scoring 7 runs in two innings while Kamran Akmal scored 6 runs of 17 balls in the same number of outings; ironically the selectors had over looked his wicket-keeping horrors due to his explosive batting powers.

As expected the fielding was the big difference between the two sides and its impact cannot be highlighted enough. When one side saves 20 runs and the other gives away 20 while dropping chances at the same time, the end result usually goes only one way.

It was in the two captains that one could see the difference between the two sides.

Clarke was tipped to be captain from the moment he set foot on the international stage, and for good reason. His aggression is parallel to Mark Taylor’s while his cool head is reminiscent of Steve Waugh. However, his situation is similar to Allan Border’s, given the task of reconstructing a side after a flood of retirements. His astute captaincy and unfazed confidence epitomised the Australian attitude throughout the series.

Misbah-ul-Haq on the other hand, continued to use defence as the best form of attack – a ploy which had worked well in the earlier part of his tenure. He took over captaincy in difficult times and has given much needed stability to the team, on and off the field. However, Pakistani fans seem to be losing patience after repeatedly watching their side lose its grip on games while on top. In both the games lost, some blame will be borne by his strategic errors and some by lack of his own batting form.

Out of all facts and figures perhaps what stands out most is that after Pakistan won its last series against Australia in 2002 it has not won a single final after being level in a bilateral ODI series. Pakistan has lost 8 out of 8 matches in a series deciding game in the last 10 years.

It seems improbable for Misbah to be around during the next World Cup at the age of 41. Maybe it is time for Pakistan to look forward. However, very often Pakistani captains are selected and retained due to lack of options or replaced due to the existence of too many. It is hard to predict how events will unfold but some murmurs point towards a certain Mr Malik.


The writer grew up in a home with sports as its religion and “The Cricketer” subscription of black and white pages as holy script. He resides in Istanbul and can be reached here.

The views expressed by this blogger and in the following reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the Dawn Media Group.

Email feedback and queries to Dawn.com's editorial team, or visit our contact page

Shaan Agha grew up in a home with sports as its religion and “The Cricketer” subscription of black and white pages as holy script.

He resides in Istanbul and can be reached here.

The views expressed by this writer and commenters below do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the Dawn Media Group.


Comments (60) Closed

Sep 06, 2012 12:13pm
It was a Captaincy failure alongwith the poor fielding and seasoned wicket-keeping of Kamran Akmal. 248 was enough to defend though short of the total which seemed possible after the openers' performance. However, when Aussies were 4 down for 100 odd runs with Ajmal took 2 wickets in 2 consecutive overs, with Wade joining Hussey in 23rd, Captain replaced Ajmal. Wade proved a failure in previous two innings. That allow Hus-Wade to build a partnership of 50+. Then Maxell came in but still no signs of Ajmal, beacuse captain had a plan from home that Ajmal will bowl in last 8 overs of the innnings no matter how few runs left. 36-40 over powerplay let go without ajmal. And during those two partnerships when batsmen eased out the spinners, Captain hasn't brought the Lone Pacer Junaid to discomfort them. reason he gave 28 in 4 overs. N when bring in atlast in 43rd over with only 20 odd runs to chase, Junaid Almost took Maxell with his first ball but Azhar drop the catch. Then on 3rd deleivery he cleaned Mr. Cricket when he was completely set. and took another in his next over. Now imagine the mind set. what happened if Captain bring the pacer, who almost got rid of 2 set batsmen, at the time when Aussies lost two quick wickets in 24th over with 135 odd runs behind. Last but not the least, sending afridi at no.3 was a total failure cz he hasn't bat at the top for years now. why was kamran in the side instead of Sarfraz if he has to bat at 6 or 7. cz we know kamran can only flourish at the top. and it was an ideal set up to send him at 3 aftr the opening stand and to take the powerplay..
Raees Javeri
Sep 06, 2012 03:13pm
There is a plenty of talent in Pakistan cricket.Lack of leadership is the key reason for the failure.We need a leader like Imran Khan or Miandad.Captaincy is all about taking decisions at right time and leading offensively not defensive like misbah.
Sep 06, 2012 04:51pm
Ahahaha!!! Afridi as captain!? Malik a sensible batsmen?! Remember Afridi's performance in the last odi in both batting and bowling!?
Sep 06, 2012 12:07am
If malik becomes captain then I will, certainly, not be alone to say good bye to pakistan cricket.
Sep 06, 2012 09:45am
Shoib Malik would be the WORST choice as captain. Misbah is good and we should stop blaming captain after every series loss. The last one day was lost due to poor performance of Pakistani and Middle order batting. I request chief selector to exclude Kamran and Umer Akmal from Pakistani team as they both have been given too many chances but failed to prove themselves as a good cricketer. Kamran Akmal is habitual in dropping simple chances on key ocassion and Umer Akmal is happy by scoring 20-30 runs and ocassionally scoring 50s. Afridi still does not know how to avoid being OUT. A child can know how to get Afridi OUT. He is good spinner but a poor batsman.
Sarfraz Nawaz
Sep 06, 2012 08:45am
get some life we have beaten england 3-0 same england which bashed you guys 5-0.
David M
Sep 07, 2012 12:00pm
I agree in most part. But Billy Bowden rather than Ajmal should take the blame for Hussey's LBW decision. I would add that the toss was also a factor in Pakistan's loss in the final ODI.
Sep 10, 2012 06:45pm
He is too old to learn. Get new Cap.
Nazir Hayat
Sep 06, 2012 08:17am
They are from the place where nobody can harm them. They are protected by their masters & their people.
Sep 06, 2012 03:46am
Don't blame our Cricket Team! Anyone who plays throughout the year is bound to get fatigued. Our team has given us marvellous cricket but they too are human and are bound to get tired. With the kind of competitive cricket they are subjected to there should be two teams; I am NOT implying Team A and Team B but just two teams so that one can rest while other plays. The efficacy of making lot of changes in T20 Team has borne fruit as it did in the first T20 match against Australia on 5th Sept. We have absolutely world class players and they should be encouraged with better salary and real estate incentives just like any top athlete in the world is.
Raees Javeri
Sep 06, 2012 03:03pm
I still think Kamran Akmal is involved in Spot fixing the way he is dropping catches and missing stump chances.
Arabian Sands (@ArabianSands)
Sep 06, 2012 03:32pm
No. Malik has lost his place for captainship for good.
Raees Javeri
Sep 06, 2012 03:01pm
I don't think Afridi can even play T 20. I am disapointed with this guy.He is paying more attention to modeling and looking for more sponsors to make money that way.
David M
Sep 07, 2012 12:05pm
There are better things to do in life than getting on anti-Misbah bandwagon. Please, give the guy a break!
Sep 06, 2012 03:46pm
If fielding was the difference then why Misbah is to blame? Your arguments don't augur well. You said Pakistan lost 8 out of 8 deciders. True. If you use common sense, it's pointing toward mental capitulation and not bad captaincy. It's telling me that in important matches players are dropping catches,missing opportunities. How Misbah to blame. Shouldn't the blame be on selectors by providing soft handed players? Did you not hear the phrase catches win matches?
Sep 10, 2012 09:27am
It seems improbable for Misbah to be around during the next World Cup at the age of 41. just for this reason misbah should leave captaincy
Sep 05, 2012 09:07pm
People are hell bent on blaming Misbah for everything! He made tactical errors but Captains make mistakes especially against a quality side like Australia! This is not the first time we lost to Australia! Also in the final game Pakistan was 140-1 and somehow the "Big guns" - the big stroke makers like Afridi, Umar and Kamran Akmal all squandered the great platform with Zero contributions only bat and then the defensive players like Misbah Asad Shafiq and Azhar Salvaged the situation! Afridi's contribution with bat for the series averages less than 5 and with the ball over 90. Kamran and Umar also poor as both batsman! Afridi dropped a catch and Akmal missed a vital stumping. The series could have easily gone the other way. Misbah still averaged 43 with the bat aginst top lass side like Australia! So please dont lose perspective and facts in Your Misbah bashing!!!!
Raees Javeri
Sep 06, 2012 02:52pm
Malik should retire from cricket and give way to youngster .I don't know why he is been selected in the first place.nepotism!Favoratism !!!!!!!!
Sep 06, 2012 04:06pm
super duper like!! ;)
Sep 06, 2012 03:57am
Oh God there we go, another article on how Misbah should conduct his job. People, he knows what he is doing. He is not running in a popularity contest. He is trying to build a solid foundation for the next captain since he is smart enough to know that his career is not going to last long. You don't like his captaincy, stop watching the game and make better use of your time. Enough whining already.
Sep 05, 2012 07:11pm
There are two key issues; none of the batsmen, YES NONE, is good enough at international level. If you get start than you should convert it into 100's and our batsmen are unable to do that. Secondly, our catching is the worst in world cricket. Add to that Azhar Ali is NOT an ODI batsmen. Someone who scores 20 in 30 balls in last 5 overs ???
Hyder Ali
Sep 08, 2012 07:02pm
Dear sir, English captain Andrew Strauss has left a great example for Misbah ul Haq i.e retire gracefully and leave the leadership for the future captain. As for comparison Clark is the future of Australian cricket whereas Misbah is at the twilight of his career and trying desperately to cling on the career which is under the influence of mother nature. Surely the services of Misbah for Pakistan cricket are comendable but he will do another great service by quitting the one day cricket so that he can lead the test team until the most important and gruelling tour of South Africa next year. Kind Regards, Hyder
Sep 06, 2012 04:17am
Malik as captain - you have to be kidding. First - his place in the team is questionable at best. Second - there are questions around his integrity. Third - he has a reputation for not being a team man.
Sep 05, 2012 08:29pm
nice wirtten....... Afridi or shoaib malik are the strong options for captaincy..... i give shoaib malik 10/10 for captaincy. he was a good captain but only clash with yousaf ruined all of his positive impression.
Sep 06, 2012 04:40am
Sep 07, 2012 01:44am
Your mother was 100% right, check the cricket records, from the Wisden, or, maybe from the records of ICC. The same team beat England when they were ranked no 1.
Sep 06, 2012 08:18am
I see there is a pattern which become evident if we analyse closely to our deafeats against Australia while balling second. Often I noticed that our bowlers take early wickets then we start getting defensive and I think that is a killer. By doing so, captain allows the other side to come back in the game. When 4 wickets were down, the attack should have been continued without fear of last 10 overs. I think when there is player like Hussey playing, defensive thinking just dont work. You need to knock him out to win the game. If he is allowed to stay on the wicket, the match will go other way and that is exactly what happened in the game.
Ahmed Saeed
Sep 06, 2012 05:02am
Misbah as a Captain takes pain but then what to do with the team which consists of thugs and cheaters like Akmal brothers.
Gul Khan
Sep 06, 2012 05:52pm
khansaab! Afridis real age is showing off now, he will need a runner even to bowl, if he keeps on playing cricket that long...
Fen Tian
Sep 05, 2012 08:36pm
You need to understand the difference between two sides,Pakistan team is quite new at International level and Misbah has been at helm for just year and half and that is the time exactly his new set of players have been playing together.How can you compare with Hussey,Watson,Clarke and rest of Australian team who are established in the business.But do give the some of the Pakistani players time to settle down and they will be no lesser than those Australian counterparts.Ignoring Misbah contribution towards Pakistan cricket should be sheer foolishness.What he has achieved till now as Captain will not be repeated by any following Captain.You don't get quite often to see England team thrased 3:0 while being Number 1.Even best of stars of Pakistan cricket of yester years will unable to match that record despite having individual brilliance and lot of stars playing together.
Sep 06, 2012 11:05am
Clarke and Misbah are polar opposites and there is no harm in learning from others. Clarke was a born captain while captaincy on Misbah was forced due to lack of options in Pakistan. He has done well at a job that does not maybe come naturally to him but I agree it is time for Pakistan to move forward. Why can't we groom our youngsters to become leaders like Steve Waugh and Michael Clarke ?
Capt C M Khan
Sep 05, 2012 07:00pm
Biggest problem Pakistan has it has no Captain except Misbah today? Malik as Captain will be another lost cup for Pakistan.
Sep 06, 2012 05:16am
I think Hafeez should be tried for captaincy of ODI as well...
Bilal Raza
Sep 06, 2012 05:25pm
I am appalled by the inconsistency of the title and article. "Misbah can learn a few things from Clarke"? You did not even mention one? Pakistan lost because Ajmal did not bother to review the decision off Mike Hussey's LBW when he was plumb on 0. Misbah did well as captain and as batsman throughout the series. By the way, I am not surprised why there's no title as "TIME RUNNING FOR SHAHID AFRIDI" and since nobody bothered to scrutinize Shahid's performance who gave away 62 runs in the 3rd ODI and scored 7. Shahid is definitely a match winner but for the opponents. Kindly do me favour, let us see the score of 8 matches that were series decider which Pakistan has lost, what is the performance of Shahid Khan Afridi? As long as Shahid Afridi is there, expect the number of series decider lost to increase.
Dildar Khan
Sep 06, 2012 03:51pm
Shahid Khan Afridi for Captain. He should captain till next world cup and lift the trophy for Pakistan. Then retire like Imran Khan and join PTI. He is an honest man and his name has never come in any corruption. Politics with Ejaz Butt and Waqar Younis finshed his captaincy. Otherwise today he is captain. Good writing Agha, but why you point to Malik as captain I dont know. He is a sensible batsman but not good for team.
Sep 06, 2012 05:32pm
Afridi for captain!! are you serious??
Sep 05, 2012 06:02pm
Why can's Pakistanis simply admit that other teams are better ? You guys always complain about selection bias, poor captaincy and wrong decisions. Match after match same story. Honestly I dont see much talent in batting or bowling with an exception of Ajmal. There is none that really stands out. And thankyou for not planting conspiracy theories that the match was fixed !
Karim Meghani
Sep 06, 2012 05:48am
I think Misbah is the best option Pakistan have, he is mature and always comes in the middle when pressure on his head and I cant see anbody in the team who control the pressure better then him. strategic failures are part of any battle or game, we have to understand that any given Sunday one team have to win and other have to lose, the most important thing is the contribution towards the game. For me Misbah did this contribution, Ajmal did this contribution, Nassir did this contribution, Haffiz did this contribution..... lets see the contribution and look ahead to the future. with best wishes to Pakistan for the T20s and the world cup.
Sep 05, 2012 08:47pm
It is not only Misbah but also Akmal brothers, they don't deserve a place in Pakistan team. How about Kamran Akmal missing a simple stumping chance that could have placed Pakistan in very strong position, perhaps Pakistan lost because of that miss and this was not the first time that Kamran has let down Pakistan. Akmal brothers lack discipline and PCB should have zero tolerance as for as discipline is concerned, accordingly the cricket management should also display professionalism of the highest order. How come the ex-Chairman was not taken to task for the mess that he created. For me players and management both are accountable.
Sep 06, 2012 11:13am
It will be tragic but I would have to agree with the writer, there have been rumours.
Goga Nalaik
Sep 06, 2012 07:42am
Yawns !!!
Sep 07, 2012 04:03am
Afridi is the best choice for the captaincy. He has proved by taking the team to the semi final of the world cup. If we would not have Kamran akmal (who is back again) the final could be between pakistan and Sri Lanka. Misbah should retire. He is not so energetic but a very slow mover. Today's cricket requires captains like Clarke and Smith.
Sep 10, 2012 09:25am
Misbah is good as a batsman in test side, he is not aggressive and not deserves to play as a batsman or captain in one day. We need match winner Misbah is a match loser.
Zafar iqbal
Sep 06, 2012 12:36pm
nice words they perfectly depicts the current state of affairs. I think if we get rid of Akmal's and replace them with young talent like Hammad Azam. we can definitley fill the gaps. I honestly think our team is struggling because of players like Umar Akmal who never deliver when its needed. I think both guys are just T20 players and PCB should keep them for that format we have found two great guys Asad and Azhar both are showing that they will replace Yonus/Yousef at least in test cricket. PCB should be in the continues look out for ODI talent specially lower order batsman/all rounder Razzaq / Hammad Azam look to be the best alternatives to consider..
Sep 05, 2012 11:41pm
I agree.. the Akmal brothers are total waste, especially the Kamran, how did he came back to the team after dropping so many catches.. We can train some batsman into wicket keeping.
Abdul Hasan
Sep 07, 2012 09:26am
there is some politics going on in the team. everyone knows Misbah will go, it is just a matter of time. Malik, Hafeez and Afridi are in a three way battle for the spot. I think Afridi is not playing with all his heart. Dirty politics always destroys Pakistan cricket.
Sep 06, 2012 04:55pm
The selectors should be blamed for selecting Misbah for the limited over format. We need power hitting captains and Misbah surely can't hit.
Sep 09, 2012 06:22am
Khan Sahib, I dont agree with you at all. Afridi can't control his emotions and can never be a good captain. The guy guy who is biting a ball in front of thousands of people how can you even think of making him our captain. Its time for Afridi to retire and lets the young blood rise.
Sep 06, 2012 11:15am
Agreed !! But Pakistan cricket is run by jokers anyway. Not kidding :)
Sep 05, 2012 11:36pm
The short description of the author given at the end "The writer grew up in a home with sports as its religion" I think, the writer needs to grow up a little more - he spoke too soon, and the same team with the same captain thrashed the same Australia, he didn't remember the series with England as well, when Pakistan thrashed them 3-0. One of my friends mother used to tell everyone "Son - don't rush things, don't eat hot bread direct from the stove, let it cool down a little"
Sep 05, 2012 05:38pm
a certain mr malik..n oooooooo!!!
Sep 07, 2012 12:38pm
look at the result when Mohsin was a coach. Misbah had done excellent job making this team as a group. We need domestic coach who understand players. Misbah need to continue till Hafeez really groom
Sep 06, 2012 11:11am
The same team with the same captain thrashed the same Australia ? 3-0 win versus England or a 4-0 loss ? My mother says when you don't know about something you should reserve your comment or else it will just make you look silly. I think you have been watching star plus instead of cricket.
Nasir vohra
Sep 06, 2012 10:46am
Malik and Akmal brothers are politician not cricketers..But they are part of PCB mafia so they wont be going anywhere like Imran farhat.. Afridi should be go for modelling now..I can bear new guyz fight and lose but cant see old thugs repeating again and again
Sep 05, 2012 10:06pm
And why wouldn't you talk much about how Afridi disappointed? It's time for Afridi to retire from ODI cricket, not Misbah. Afridi was sent in early to score a quick 25 odd runs. He failed yet again, leaving Pakistan in an uneasy situation (due to conditions and fragility of our batting), after a dream start. Same goes for Umar Akmal, who probably thinks he is Viv Richards. Reality check Mr. Akmal, you are no way near!
Sep 06, 2012 04:31pm
I don't think you are aware of the intensity with which cricket is played in Pakistan. There is abundance of talent and smooth operators are found all around the parks. Our problems are mental not lack of skill. The way we play our cricket we should win many more laurels but we haven't and this is why we (fans) are often found complaining because we know what we have. Same goes for country's standing in international arena . We know we produce accountants, doctors, engineers skilled workers who are praised all over the world and yet cannot come good at home.
Abdul Hasan
Sep 06, 2012 09:21am
Very well written summary of the short ODI series. These rumours about Malik being touted as the next captain have been the talk in cricketing circles off late. He has some connections in the current government and sadly has a good chance of staging a come back as captain; history repeats. It does not matter if Misbah is the best choice captain at the moment, it is the fact the fact that you cannot build a team around him looking at the future considering his age and Pakistan should have some foresight. Sadly like the writer said "very often Pakistani captains are selected and retained due to lack of options or replaced due to the existence of too many"
Sep 07, 2012 04:09am
you seem to be too much biased. the main reason seems to be something hidden and which can be seen in the difference of performances in ODIs and T20. dont know when fielding will get better.
z velani
Sep 09, 2012 12:50pm
Misbah should learn from Clarke and as well as Hafeez. Like putting players to right spots. Also he need to realize that there is a huge difference between test match and one day. Sooner he realize better for him. Must change his attitude form Mr Slow Motion to Mr Scoring Machine. I am wondering what is Shoab Malik doing in one day and T 20?
Sep 06, 2012 10:06am
Roomi - This is not the first time we lost to Australia but this is the worst Ausi side of my lifetime so to loss to them in UAE heat is a disgrace. They recently lost to England 4-0 and we couldn't win the series in UAE. I agree with the writer that playing 4 spinners was a defensive strategy and one which caused us in the end. Afridi should be kicked out asap and Misbah should start thinking about playing tests alone till his form allows him. We earlier lost to England with same defensive ODI strategy where we were playing 80's cricket so time to make few changes.