With news of his retirement already out, Misbahul Haq faced media at the start of Pakistan’s short preparatory camp at the Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore and stated it was the right time for him to announce his retirement from One-Day International (ODI) cricket after the 2015 World Cup.
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Misbah, who always had come up a resolute figure, looked calm and composed in what was a formal quitting statement in a more informal way standing at the ground accompanied by Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) Chairman Shaharyar Khan and newly appointed team manager Naveed Akram Cheema as he discussed Pakistan’s chances in the mega event and his decision.
It was a very different atmosphere with players shouting during their workout in the background whilst Misbah politely shared his thoughts on quitting the game which he loves more than anything in his life.
The words which were first to come out of his tongue after a big sigh were: “Look, I’d been planning this for sometime now but I was waiting for the time to arrive. I brought it in PCB’s knowledge a week before that I will retire from T20Is and ODIs after the world cup and my decision was appreciated by the Chairman.”
Unlike most of the athletes who speak about their achievements on their retirement, he was quick to thank almighty, his family and fans for their unlimited support during his evolution from a kid to a well-known man he is now.
“First of all I would like to thank Allah that he bestowed me to be a player I am today and lead Pakistan for almost four years. I would thank PCB for trusting in my abilities for so long and even at tough times and maintained the continuity for all those years,” he added.
“My family supported me in thick and thin, fellow players, coaches, teachers, fans who all helped to come to this stage of my life. I’m happy that I’m at a stage where I’m taking the retirement’s decision myself and will hope that all this support will remain with me even in the world cup and we’ll try to deliver according to their expectations.”
He had received one of the fiercest criticisms on a Pakistani player in recent memory but yet he has always presented himself as a gentleman, answering critics with his bat and hardly complained against being subjected alone while others were spared.
Misbah stressed that he is departing gracefully without any fear of being dropped after the world cup.
“I’ve always played positively and faced challenges throughout my career. I would like to make it clear that I’m not running away as people think that there might be a looming axe on me after the world cup. Some people think that I don’t have confidence on myself or PCB but that it isn’t the matter and I’ve come to this decision without any threat,” he added.
“The biggest thing for me is cricket and it’s not easy at all to leave them game you love so much. But universally every beginning always has an end and that’s how it is. All the criticism, I had in my life never forced me to give up cricket. When your passion is cricket then things like that doesn’t matter.”
Misbah believes that he will go into the world cup as a stronger personality than ever before because he has the motivation to end his ODI career on a high.
“After announcing my retirement, now I have a motivation that this is my last tournament and want to give everything to my team and my country and win the world cup. It wouldn’t be an easy task but as a professional we all would have to manage in conditions of Australia and New Zealand and we’ll get time to adjust to local conditions,” he explained.
His stint as captain has never been on the home soil as Pakistan have played their home series on neutral venues of UAE because of security reasons and Misbah believes that the journey has been really tough and demanding for him and the players throughout.
“Let me tell you that it isn’t easy at all to play away from home for such a long time because home fans have their own importance. A huge credit goes to my players who had played away from home and put on performances for Pakistan during my tenure,” Misbah credited.
The 40-year-old skipper has played 153 one-dayers for Pakistan scoring 4669 runs so far in his career at an average of 42.83 with 37 fifties but is yet to score an ODI hundred, something he is not bothered about until his team his winning.
“I try to score a century in every match I play but it’s more important for me to score runs which can help my team. For me century doesn’t matter and if the team wins and I get out on naught then I can out it as an achievement as well,” Misbah said.
“I’ll try to score one in the world cup but team is much more important than individual achievements. We’ll try to get off to a good start in world cup by beating India and not think about past results against them but a lot of passion would be required for it.”
Once Misbah’s walks away, there will be a new dawn in Pakistan cricket and the man himself has given his opinion to PCB as to who take over the reigns and guide the team forward.
“I’ve given my opinion to the board as to who can captain but I can’t disclose it in media because others can lose heart from it. There are players who have the potential to take Pakistan cricket forward,” he concluded.
Though Misbah is divorcing the colourful format, his association with international cricket will still continue in whites as he would continue to play Test cricket atleast until 2015 as Pakistan are due to face top teams such as India and England most probably in United Arab Emirates (UAE).
Meanwhile, PCB Chairman Shaharyar was not short of praise for Misbah stating that his departure would mean that a top-class player, an extra-ordinary skipper and a very respectable person would away from shorter versions of the game but the good thing is that he willing to extend his career in Test format.
“It’ll be really hard to find such a decent player like Misbah who always answered with his bat despite having severe criticism throughout his career. It is regrettable that he has decide to quit one-day and T20 cricket but the good thing is that he’ll still be available for Tests,” Shaharyar stated.
“We’ve got important series coming up this year against England and India so Misbah’s presence on point of stability is really important for the team. He has led Pakistan to very important series wins during his captaincy and the team has finished 2014 at number four in Test rankings which is a good achievement.”
Shaharyar also praised Misbah for marshalling his troops with unity and added that he has never seen such unity in any team of Pakistan ever before.
Replying to a question as to who might take over from Misbah, Shaharyar said most likely a fresh captain would be appointed and PCB will not go back to appoint the previously tested choices.
Opener and wicketkeeper Morne van Wyk scored an unbeaten century to steer South Africa to a 69-run win over West Indies in the third and final T20 International in Durban to prevent a series whitewash.
Van Wyk scored 114 not out from 70 balls, which included nine fours and seven maximums, as he steered the Proteas to an imposing total of 195 for three from their 20 overs.
In reply, the West Indies never got going and were bowled out for 126 in 19 overs.
It meant West Indies won the series 2-1 ahead of the first of five ODIs between the two sides on Friday at the same venue.
The visitors won the toss and chose to field and could have rued that decision early on when it took until the 13th over to claim the first South African wicket when Hendricks was caught by Dwayne Smith off the bowling of Kieron Pollard for 42.
By then, South Africa had already passed the 100 mark and the West Indies had to wait until the score was on 158 before they claimed their next wicket when David Wiese was bowled by Dwayne Bravo for 21.
Rilee Roussouw was dismissed for a duck by Sheldon Cottrell the following over, with Jean-Paul Duminy (seven) joining Van Wyk for the last seven balls.
In reply, the West Indies started brightly in their bid to reach the target of 196 but lost their first wicket on 48 when Smith (five) was bowled by Phangiso.
Marlon Samuels (six) departed soon after, caught by Justin Ontong off the bowling of Wiese, before the right arm quick also, accounted for Lendl Simmons for 49. That left the visitors stuttering on 68 for three and they never recovered from that position.
Wiese was the main man for South Africa, ending up with figures of five for 23 from his four overs.
Justin Ontong, who took over as South African captain in place of Faf du Plessis, said the players were determined to prevent a series whitewash.
“We wanted it more. We let ourselves down in the first two games. We were hungry tonight,” he said.
West Indies captain Darren Sammy said he was delighted with the attitude of the players during the series.
“I commend the way the boys played this series. Today we wanted to win but we’ll take a series win,” said Sammy.
Ian Bell admits he has fallen short of match-winning efforts too often as an England opener, but is ready to put that behind him after a record knock of 187 yesterday (Wednesday).
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Bell hit 20 fours and three sixes in a 145-ball knock against an Australian Prime Minister’s XI, and in the process registered England’s best score in one-day cricket.
It was enough to settle a highscoring contest in the tourists’ favour, by a margin of 60 runs, and ranks as a sizeable achievement for a player who was sweating for his place in the side weeks ago.
Bell was not required for England last five matches in Sri Lanka before Christmas but earned a recall in the aftermath of Alastair Cook’s departure as captain.
Bell knows a record of three centuries in 150 one-day internationals is not enough for a player of his calibre and intends on changing that for the better in the forthcoming tri-series and World Cup.
“One thing I’ve probably been guilty of in the time I’ve been opening is getting to 60, 70, 80 but never really gone on and enjoyed myself the way I did today,” he said.
“I’ve been guilty in one-day cricket of getting a lot of 50s and not converting enough, but this is what I can do if I bat 45.5 overs or whatever it was.
“I’ve spoken to (coach) Peter Moores about that and I believe I can play at the top of the order for England. The thing is converting starts into match-winning scores.
“Today was pretty much perfect template-wise and that’s how I’d like to play in one-day cricket. If I can do that a couple of times this winter, that’s great for the team.”
Bell was honest enough to accept he was not a certain pick in the first XI, with Twenty20 opener Alex Hales having his supporters and Gary Balance also involved in the 15-man squad. But he has benefited from a vote of confidence from Cook’s replacement as skipper, Eoin Morgan.
“Coming out here I didn’t know where I was going to bat or if I would start, so it was nice to have a good chat with Morgs and for him to say I would get first crack at opening,” said Bell. “That filled me with a lot of confidence.”
Glenn Maxwell, the flashy all-rounder who goes by the nickname ‘The Big Show’, gave watching PM Tony Abbott plenty to smile about with a boundary-strewn century in reply.
The 26-year-old bludgeoned 136 in just 91 deliveries, including 20 fours and two sixes to bring a fanciful chase briefly into the realms of possibility. England can expect to see more of him in Sydney on Friday when the tri-series involving Australia and India gets under way.