Misbah-ul-Haq, the Pakistan Test captain, announced on Thursday (April 6) that he would be retiring from international cricket after the end of the Test series in West Indies.
“I am announcing my retirement from international cricket,” Misbah told reporters at a press conference at the Gadaffi Stadium in Lahore. “The upcoming series against West Indies will be my last. I will continue to play cricket at the domestic level. Regarding when I will leave domestic cricket, I will decide it later.”
Pakistan are scheduled to play three Tests against West Indies, the first of which will start on April 21 in Jamaica.
With 24 wins in 53 matches, Misbah is Pakistan’s most successful Test captain.
Misbah had taken over the captaincy of the Test side in the wake of the spot-fixing controversy in 2010 in which Salman Butt, the captain then, was banned for five years alongside Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Amir. Without having played a single Test at home, Misbah led Pakistan to the No.1 ranking in Tests for a brief period in 2016.
Misbah, 42, made his Test debut in March 2001, and has so far aggregated 4,951 runs in 72 games at an average of 45.84. He was one of the five Cricketers of the Year, alongside compatriot Younis Khan, chosen by the Wisden Cricketers’ Almanack for 2016. The honour followed a fine performance in Pakistan’s four-Test series against England, in which Misbah hit a century in the opening match at Lord’s and celebrated by doing push-ups in a gripping series that eventually ended all square at 2-2.
However, Misbah did not have a good tour of Australia when Pakistan travelled Down Under in 2016-17, and speculations were rife after that about his impending retirement.
“I have seen many ups and downs during my career. I was dropped from the team, played poorly as well at times. But then I had some great moments too where we became the No.1 Test team in the world (last year),” he said. “So, overall I am satisfied with my performance.”
Misbah was also one of the Cricketers of the Year for the Wisden India Almanack in 2014. His best years as a Test batsmen were 2011, 2013 and 2014, making more than 700 runs in each of those years. He played only five Tests in Pakistan, and took a liking for the three grounds in United Arab Emirates, Pakistan’s adopted home venue, where he aggregated 2209 runs in 26 games. That included a 56-ball 100 against Australia in Abu Dhabi in 2014-15, the joint-fastest Test century alongside Viv Richards. The mark was lowered later by Brendon McCullum, who hit a 54-ball Test ton in 2015-16.
Misbah, who quit from One-Day Internationals after the 2015 World Cup, said that winning the World Cup was one of the aims that he could not fulfill, but had no regrets.
“I had some unfinished business, but that’s how life is. I had a dream of winning the World Cup for Pakistan, but then I also had a dream to captain the team in Pakistan,” he said. “However, that is how life is. You don’t’ get everything you ask for.”
Sarfraz Ahmed, who leads Pakistan in both ODIs and Twenty20 Internationals, is likely to be named Misbah’s replacement, with the outgoing Test skipper saying it was important to have one captain for all formats.
“We should not put pressure on Sarfraz; instead we should support him,” said Misbah. “I also believe that there should be only one captain, so all the players can support him.”