His position as Pakistan’s chief coach doesn’t seem to be in any kind of threat at the moment
Misbah-ul-Haq has played down talk of his days as head coach of the Pakistan team being numbered, saying that stakeholders in Pakistan cricket need to avoid “being reactive”. He added that he is hoping that the PCB cricket committee’s summons to him and Waqar Younis is only a discussion to help improve Pakistan cricket and not much more.
Misbah has a three-year contract with the PCB but his position – first as chief selector and chief coach and now as only the latter – has come in for scrutiny often in the recent past as losses have piled up for the team, most recently in New Zealand. When the PCB cricket committee meets him on Tuesday, it will be the second review of Misbah’s performance in three months. ESPNcricinfo understands that the review is a routine affair that broadly covers 2020-21 domestic and international season.
“There is scrutiny and then there is an analysis of any series, which is how it should be, and I don’t mind it,” Misbah told a press conference at Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore on Monday. “But obviously there shouldn’t be any communication gap. We need confidence and continuity with no uncertainty.
“Improvement takes time and you can’t be overly reactive with it. We have young players and haven’t got experience in the side and that is why it’s taking some time to get favourable results, and this needs to be understood. I hope this committee isn’t for grilling me, but to help and share what they think needs to be done to get things better for the country.”
After Misbah came into the picture, the PCB took several bold decisions, such as removing Sarfaraz Ahmed as captain and dropping him from the team in all three formats. Soon after, Azhar Ali was made the Test captain while Babar Azam was chosen to lead the team in the limited-overs formats. However, after the England series last year, Ali was stripped off the captaincy and Azam made captain in all formats.
But with the results not being as good as expected, Misbah’s stocks appear to have taken a hit.
“Moving from one bubble to another and maintaining the quality of cricket and player fitness is becoming a worry. If you look around in the cricket world, coaches like Mark Boucher, Mickey Arthur, Ravi Shastri, they are all facing the same problem”
“There is always pressure on me being in this post, on the team, or the position in which Waqar bhai is,” Misbah said. “We are indeed disappointed about these results [Pakistan lost the Tests 2-0 and T20Is 2-1 in New Zealand most recently] because this is not on. This is not the result we anticipated. Nobody needs to tell us, we know we need to improve as a team, we know we need to improve as a coaching team to get good results.
“But, at the same time, no sportsman in the world can be locked in a room for 19 days and then with just a week of preparation expected to beat a world-class teams and that too in their own conditions.
“I have no doubt about the commitment of my players. They are giving their best and there are performances we can take forward, but overall it’s not reflecting on the end result and that is where everyone is focusing. There are performances in phases and there were some great fightbacks we saw on the New Zealand tour. I know we are improving and when you judge the series, it doesn’t always give you a true picture.”
Prior to the tour of New Zealand, the contingent spent three days in Lahore, got on a flight to Auckland, and then spent 14 days in strict quarantine in Queenstown. The team effectively got six days of training before the first game. Before that, the Pakistani players were in a bio-bubble in England, as well as at home during the final leg of the PSL, the Zimbabwe series, the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy and the National T20s.
“Bio-bubbles are affecting players mentally and physically and this isn’t just an excuse but a fact everyone is talking about,” Misbah said. “Moving from one bubble to another and maintaining the quality of cricket and player fitness is becoming a worry. If you look around in the cricket world, coaches like Mark Boucher, Mickey Arthur, Ravi Shastri, they are all facing the same problem.
“The preparatory camps aren’t serving the way they used to, and that it affecting the fitness of players. All of this is adding up and eventually reflecting on our performance. We have to find a way out to counter this situation.”
Umar Farooq is ESPNcricinfo’s Pakistan correspondent