‘Misbah to be solely responsible for team’s selection, performance’

September 05, 2019

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LAHORE: Newly appointed head coach-cum-chief selector of the national team Misbah-ul Haq (R) and Pakistan Cricket Board chief executive Wasim Khan attend a press conference on Wednesday.—M. Arif/White Star
LAHORE: Newly appointed head coach-cum-chief selector of the national team Misbah-ul Haq (R) and Pakistan Cricket Board chief executive Wasim Khan attend a press conference on Wednesday.—M. Arif/White Star

LAHORE: Misbah-ul-Haq, after being handed the dual role of head coach-cum-chief selector, will be solely responsible for national team’s selection as well as its performance, Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chief executive Wasim Khan said on Wednesday.

The dual role — a totally new experiment in Pakistan cricket — has been given to Misbah who was also named head coach. Waqar Younis, another former skipper and fast bowling icon, was chosen as the team’s bowling coach. “Both Misbah and Waqar have been appointed for a three-year term,” Wasim said at the press conference alongside Misbah.

“Everyone asks questions about accountability [in case of defeats]. Now Misbah will be accountable for [team selection] selection as well as performance,” Wasim said at the presser in Lahore.

“The concept of head coach-cum-chief selector is innovative. After being introduced to our system, it has also put more responsibility on Misbah’s shoulders as he will now be solely responsible and accountable for the team’s performances. Furthermore, as the new domestic system has also been implemented, head coaches of the provincial teams will give feedback to Misbah about the talent in our domestic cricket,” Wasim added.

Waqar Younis named bowling coach

“In 2010-11, Misbah took up national team’s captaincy in the worst situation [owing to the 2010 spot-fixing scandal]. However, with dedication, skill and spirit he brightened the name of the country world over. Therefore, he has been rightly picked for the dual role.”

Meanwhile speaking at the press conference, Misbah said serving Pakistan cricket in the dual role was an honour.

“It is very humbling for me to join a select group of some of the very best to have coached the Pakistan national sides in the past. It is an honour and more than that, a massive responsibility as we live and breathe cricket,” the 45-year-old who retired from Tests in 2017, said.

The Mianwali-born Misbah, holding a massive international experience of 75 Tests, 162 ODIs and 39 T20 Internationals, said bringing professionalism would be his most significant goal.

“The PCB has shown great confidence and trust in me by giving [me] two roles for which I am thankful to them. The important is that what I am today and what I have achieved in cricket, it was not possible without Pakistan. The honour and respect I earned, it is all due to my country and I am thankful to Pakistan too,” Misbah, who equalled Sir Vivian Richards’ record of fastest century in Tests in 2014 by smashing a 56-ball hundred against Australia at Abu Dhabi, said.

“Most important for me will be to bring professionalism in all departments of the game, from top to bottom and bottom to top,” he maintained.

“Power and authority are in fact your test and you have to deliver. I always tried to give my best to Pakistan and will try to continue that spirit with honesty and with full energy,” Misbah, under whose captaincy Pakistan earned the coveted top spot in ICC Test team rankings in 2016, pledged.

As the head coach, Misbah insisted he would try his best to introduce a system bringing consistency to all departments of the game, including physical fitness and performance.

Wasim revealed Misbah would also be allowed to coach any team in the Pakistan Super League (PSL), underlining the move would give him more exposure.

It may be mentioned here that previous national team head coach Mickey Arthur had also been acting as coach of Karachi Kings at PSL.

Misbah dispelled the impression that there were chances of personality clash with Waqar who had worked with Misbah as head coach during his playing days.

Asked as Misbah was interviewed only for the post of head coach by a five-member panel, which forum decided to also give him the role of chief selector, Wasim said, “It was at the back of our mind to introduce the formula of dual role and when Misbah came out as a successful candidate after the interview, we discussed the dual role with him which he accepted.”

To a question, Wasim said Misbah’s salary package would be equal to what Arthur was drawing as head coach.

On whether he would be entirely responsible for finalising playing XI, Misbah said captain would also have a major role in it, adding both would be responsible for the team’s performance.

“I believe as captain has to fight in the field he must be given full chance to have his input in the selecting playing XI,” Misbah, Pakistan’s most successful Test captain (26 wins in 56 Tests; 19 losses, 11 draws) emphasised.

“We both are clear about it. I have worked a lot with Waqar in Pakistan team as well as in PSL. We know each other very well. Professionalism is there and we did not interfere in each other’s domain,” the ex-skipper said.

“Obviously as head coach gives other supporting staff his directions and we will move in a professional way and we know our limit and how we can work professionally.”

Asked whether he as head coach would adopt a defensive or aggressive approach, Misbah said all depends on the resources at hand.

“Your strategy must be based on your resources. Everyone wants ideal scenario to attack the opponent but I prefer to go with the available resources,” Misbah, known for a very much traditional style of cricket during his playing days, underlined.

About national team’s captaincy, both Misbah and Wasim said a decision in this regard would be made next week by PCB chairman Ehsan Mani in consultation with the head coach.

To a question, Wasim said it would be for Misbah to see if he required a batting coach or not.

On a query about the impact of abolishing departments’ role in Pakistan’s domestic cricket, Misbah said hopefully the new system — if managed purely in a professional way — would produce competitive cricketers.

“Yes, many cricketers will lose their jobs, and there are pluses and minuses of every system. However, it is a fact that [presently] there is a huge gap between the standard of our domestic cricket and that of international cricket. Therefore, now with only six teams featuring on our first-class circuit quality players will emerge,” he said.

As the national team lacked a quality all-rounder, Misbah said, he would work on some talented cricketers like Ammad Butt, Aamir Yamin besides Faheem Ashraf who has been struggling for form as all-rounder.

Published in Dawn, September 5th, 2019