LAHORE: Pakistan’s most successful captain Misbah-ul-Haq has been tipped to play a dual role as chief selector-cum-head coach under the new model being introduced by the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB), well informed sources told Dawn on Thursday.

In this regard a development was also seen on Thursday when the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) appointed Misbah as the camp-commandant for the pre-season training camp being held at the NCA in Lahore from Aug 22 to Sept 7.

It is learnt that Misbah himself selected the players for the training camp and now he will also coach them so it may also be a test for him to prove his credentials for the dual role that he is likely to be assigned now.

PCB set to introduce new model of domestic cricket soon

It may be mentioned here that in his last media talk with a small group of journalists in Lahore, managing director Wasim Khan had disclosed that the PCB is considering three models for the selection panel of the senior team; the first one is the existing one comprising of chairman and three or four members of the selection committee, the second one is to appoint a chief selector only and to give extra role to the head coaches of the six provincial teams in the domestic season who will be asked to also perform as selectors and recommend the names of talented players to chief selector, while the third model is that only one person will play dual role of chief selector and head coach to whom all the head coaches of the six provincial teams will report and give feed back about the talented players.

Sources said that the PCB had decided to adopt the third model and it would also be helpful in making a specific authority/person accountable in case of defeats of the Pakistan team.

It may be mentioned here that in the past, many players who had been picked up by the selectors in the Pakistan squad did not get even one match on the tour because the head coach and the captain used to have the authority to select the playing XI and overlooked certain players. And in case of defeats, the selectors and the team management would start the blame-game as none of the two parties were ready to accept the responsibility for the team’s poor show.

In a recent such example, young paceman Muhammad Hasnain was selected in the World Cup squad for the last edition held in England and Wales and was hailed by ex-Chief Selector Inzamamul-Haq as a secret weapon. However, the team management in England did not select the fiery pacer in any match of the mega event and he returned home as a joy rider.

Misbah, as captain of the Pakistan team, earned a good name for himself and it was under his leadership that Pakistan earned top spot in Test cricket in 2016. It must be mentioned here that Misbah took over the reins of the Pakistan team in a very difficult period when the infamous spot-fixing scandal at Lord’s in 2010 involving then skipper Salman Butt and pacers Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Amir had completely tarnished the Pakistan team’s reputation.

Then chief selector Muhammad Ilyas had suggested Misbah’s name as captain at the time and the then chairman PCB Ijaz Butt went ahead with the bold decision by appointing the right-hander as skipper. Misbah vindicated Butt’s faith in him and took the team to dizzying heights with his cool attitude and outstanding performance on the field. He eventually ended up as the country’s best ever captain, winning 26 Test matches which is a Pakistan record.

Though Misbah had faced criticism from some quarters for being a defensive batsman who mostly grafted his runs, the Mianwali-born player silenced his critics in 2014 by scoring a Test century off just 56 balls against Australia that equalled Sir Vivan Richards’s long standing record. He was 42 at the time and set another record in terms of being the oldest player ever to score a century in a Test against England at Lord’s.

The PCB issued a press release about the camp on Thursday which said: “Fourteen centrally contracted and six additional cricketers have been invited to attend a pre-season camp which will commence at the National Cricket Academy (NCA) in Lahore on August 19. After two days of fitness testing, the 17-day conditioning camp will begin on 22 August and run until 7 September.

“As the process for the appointment of the players support personnel has been initiated, former captain Misbah-ul-Haq, with the support of the NCA coaching staff, will craft the training programme and oversee the camp until the recruitment process is concluded.

“During the pre-season camp, the players will undergo fielding drills and net sessions, along with fitness and other cricketing activities. The camp has been set up to prepare the players for a competitive and challenging domestic and international cricket season, which is expected to begin with the prestigious Quaid-e-Azam Trophy from Sept 12.

“Apart from 31 Quaid-e-Azam Trophy first-class matches and number of domestic white ball matches in relation to the National T20 Cup and Pakistan Cup One-Day Tournament, the Pakistan cricket team is scheduled to play six World Test Championship Tests, three ODIs and nine T20Is in the forthcoming season.

“Azhar Ali will join the camp from the outset after completing his contract with English county Somerset. Babar Azam, Fakhar Zaman, Imad Wasim, Mohammad Abbas and Mohammad Amir have been exempted from the camp so that they can complete their contracts with English counties Somerset, Glamorgan, Nottinghamshire, Leicestershire and Essex respectively. They will return to Pakistan in time to participate in the opening round matches of the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy.

“The following comprise the 20-man contingent (in alphabetical order): Cen­trally contracted: Abid Ali, Asad Shafiq, Azhar Ali, Haris Sohail, Hasan Ali, Imam-ul-Haq, Mohammad Rizwan, Sarfaraz Ahmed, Shadab Khan, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Shan Masood, Usman Shinwari, Wahab Riaz and Yasir Shah. Non-Contracted players: Asif Ali, Bilal Asif, Iftikhar Ahmed, Mir Hamza, Rahat Ali and Zafar Gohar. Non-participating centrally contracted players: Babar Azam, Fakhar Zaman, Imad Wasim, Mohammad Abbas and Mohammad Amir.

The news release adds that Misbah’s experience will help the players.

“Misbah-ul-Haq, who has been Pakistan’s most successful captain, understands the arduous demands of the format in this day and age. With the advent of the World Test Championship, the PCB wants Pakistan to turn up with their best red ball game when they face Sri Lanka in the two-match Test series at home,” the PCB said.

“Ahead of the Sri Lanka series, these players will be a part of the initial rounds of what will be a highly competitive Quaid-e-Azam Trophy. So, this camp will further benefit them in gearing up for an exciting cricketing season.As five players are already playing active cricket in England and Wales, we have given exemptions to them but they have been advised to return to Pakistan in time to be available for the first round matches of the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy.”

Published in Dawn, August 16th, 2019