The swansong has begun. The fat lady is well fed and primed to let out a lung bursting final ode. The farewell tour is in full swing and the metaphorical streets are being lined as we wave off a legend and resign him to the annuls of history.
It’s time to face facts – Misbah-ul-Haq is just three Tests and potentially fifteen days, but probably less, away from leaving his post as Pakistan captain.
And just as it freezes me to think about the inevitability of death and the dark empty void that awaits our expiry date, so too does the thought of cricket without Misbah.
Perhaps that’s a little excessive, but when Misbah bids adieu to Test cricket there will be a sense of loss and bereavement at levels few players are capable of emoting.
Misbah has been everything to Pakistan cricket over the past seven years and just as he is exiting the stage, the wider world has finally taken note of his remarkable achievements and the immense impact he has gracefully exerted on the sport.
The mace for taking Pakistan to world number one in Tests was a crowning achievement and a mark on the calendar that many thought should have coincided with his retirement but Misbah, as always, had grander ambitions.
An elusive series win in Australia was the real tempter and Misbah wore the weary winter losses in Australasia like he did so many others; with resolve and dignity while being torn at from all angles.
The naysayers and hate mongers have been as constant to Misbah’s reign as the trademark beard, dry wit, authoritative tone and calmness that has faced up, responded and then proven others wrong time and time again.
It is this that makes Misbah both so likeable as a human being and so highly respected in cricketing circles outside of the clique that has seemed so desperate for him to fail along the way of one of cricket’s most remarkable journeys, laden with obstacles.
For some, Misbah will never be forgiven for his inaugural World T20 heroics that ended up falling short. Others bemoan Misbah playing into his forties and say he’s stifled young players’ development. And could you name another player the Taliban have labelled a “pathetic player” in a bizarre call to patriotism in the most back-handed compliment a terrorist organisation has likely made?
Of course not and, of course, these people are each truly moronic to varying degrees.
For Misbah is not only the country’s most successful ever Test captain, he has also served as ambassador in chief, united Pakistan cricket, briefly returned it to the top of the world and, among other things, rebuilt it from the rubbles that he was dumped in when the team returned from England back in 2010.
His solidity, composure and defiance haven’t just been synonymous with Misbah the batsmen but also hallmarks of Misbah the man; the man who has led like no other – in exile and without the home comforts that so often decide Test outcomes, while under relentless scrutiny by a public and media with soaring, often unrealistic expectancy.
The time is right for Misbah to move on, he has already achieved so much and over the past few months he has looked both out of form with the bat and as though the game is beginning to pass him by.
But history will always remind us of what Misbah has achieved and the manner in which he has done so.
Cricket, quite simply, will be worse off without Misbah orchestrating Pakistan’s moves but, for the time being, we have three more Tests to revel in his presence and pay fitting tribute to the man, the myth, the legend; Misbah-ul-Haq.
Misbah, the pleasure has been all ours.
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