Pakistan captain Misbah-ul-Haq has vowed to leave a Test legacy after Sunday’s series-levelling win against England at The Oval.
Pakistan marked the nation’s Independence Day with a 10-wicket victory over England in the fourth Test at The Oval in south London that saw them end the four-match series all square at 2-2.
“The Oval win is not only pleasing as it is achieved on the Independence Day but it will also help us form a legacy for our future Test teams,” Misbah said. “When I took over as captain that was my aim, so this win will help me leave a legacy for future Test teams,” the 42-year-old veteran skipper added.
Misbah was recalled to the side and given the captaincy following the fall-out from Pakistan’s infamous tour of England in 2010. That saw then Pakistan captain Salman Butt and pace bowlers Mohamed Asif and Mohamed Amir given five-year bans and jail terms for deliberately bowling no-balls as part of a spot-fixing sting in the 2010 Lord’s Test against England.
But the past six years have not only seen Misbah unite the team but also keep it scandal-free. “It has been important for me to unite the team and unity always brings good results, even in challenging situations like in England,” said Misbah.
“This series-levelling win will go a long way in establishing this team because in the next six months we have series against the West Indies, New Zealand and Australia,” added the top-order batsman, who made a hundred in Pakistan’s win over England in the first Test of this year’s series at Lord’s.
But after that match, Pakistan suffered heavy defeats — by 330 and 141 runs in the next two Tests at Old Trafford and Edgbaston respectively.
Misbah said Pakistan had shown remarkable resilience to then level the series in convincing style at The Oval. “I kept telling the team that we have to follow the example of great teams who never look behind and keep working hard and that’s what we did,” he said.
“It was like the Pakistan Movement that even in the time of adversity Quaid-e-Azam never abandoned the hard work,” said Misbah, using the Urdu term of ‘Great Leader’ for the founder of modern Pakistan, Mohamed Ali Jinnah.
Misbah said he had told the young players in his squad never to lose hope. “When you play cricket, you have a lot of difficulties and face a lot of challenges, but through hard work you can achieve the toughest of things. ”
“I remember that when we were coming here (to England) no one was ready to give us any chance but I and my players had the belief. With a bit of luck, we could have won this Test series but even drawing a series in England against a team of quality players is a big achievement.”
Misbah said he told the players before the Oval match how important it would be for them to mark Independence Day with a win. “I told the players that we will achieve more than one thing if we win and level the series, we will also give a gift to the whole nation,” he said.
Pakistan have not played a Test in their own country since an armed attack on Sri Lanka’s team bus in Lahore in 2009 and Misbah said: “Our people love cricket but they are not able to watch us at home. So it is important that we keep winning and give youngsters and up and coming players the encouragement to take up the game and make their names.”
Misbah also warned of the damage that could be done to Bangladesh cricket should England call off their upcoming tour of the country. England are due to fly to Bangladesh on September 30 for three one-day internationals and two Test matches.
But there been concerns about the viability of the fixtures, the first leg of an England tour programme that features a subsequent Test series in India, ever since 29 people were killed in a terror attack in Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh, last month.
Pakistan have not played a Test series on home soil since an armed attack on Sri Lanka’s team bus in Lahore in 2009 saw six players injured, as well as the deaths of six policemen and two civilians. England coach Trevor Bayliss and assistant Paul Farbrace, then both holding equivalent positions with Sri Lanka, were on the bus at the time.
Misbah, while accepting the legitimacy of security concerns, knows fully well how debilitating it has been for fans in cricket-loving Pakistan not to have seen their own heroes in international action and fears what a similar situation might do to the game in fellow Asian nation Bangladesh.
“It’s their (England’s) decision but if a team is not playing at home, it’s really not good for cricket,” said Misbah. “People in Bangladesh love cricket. They have a craziness for it. If they are deprived of hosting cricket, it could be a big loss for them.”
Since 2009, the United Arab Emirates has become Pakistan’s adopted home and Misbah, whose side are now in with a chance of becoming the world’s number one-ranked Test team, said not playing on home soil for so long had been emotionally draining.
“Sometimes people think it’s really easy for us playing in the UAE. They think the wickets suit us and we win there,” he said. “But just living every day away from your country, without your family and friends, and playing every game away from Pakistan, is really difficult. It’s mentally tough.”
“I can only see my mother once a year. I only see my sister once a year. Some of my friends, I could not see for three or four years because of these commitments. We are out of the country all the time.”
Farbrace insisted that no decision on whether to go ahead with the Bangladesh tour would be made until England team security advisor Reg Dickason had reported back from a fact-finding trip.
Australia cancelled their senior men’s team tour of Bangladesh in October for security reasons and then withdrew their side from the Under-19 World Cup in the country at the start of this year.
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