Misbah-ul-Haq wrapped up his career on Sunday (May 14) at the end of his 75th Test, having overseen Pakistan’s first Test series win in the Caribbean, a hard-fought 2-1 result.
Misbah, who led Pakistan in 56 Tests, finished with 5222 runs, averaging 46.62 with ten centuries and 39 half-centuries, but his contribution to Pakistan and world cricket went beyond those numbers. Having taken over the reins of the Test team at the trickiest of times, after the spot-fixing scandal in England in 2010, Misbah worked hard to improve Pakistan’s image in the cricketing world, and emerged as one of the most respected leaders and ambassadors in the game. He also ended as Pakistan’s most successful Test captain, with 26 victories, well ahead of Imran Khan and Javed Miandad’s 14.
Walking into the sunset along with Misbah was Younis Khan, Pakistan’s most successful batsman in Test cricket with 10,099 runs at an average of 52.05, including 34 centuries and 33 half-centuries. Both the aggregate of runs and number of centuries are Pakistan records.
“What a finish, I couldn’t have asked more than that,” said an elated Misbah after West Indies stretched the third and final Test at Windsor Park in Roseau till almost the very end, their defiance ending with six balls remaining. “Really happy for this team, all the guys here, the way they gave me and Younis send-offs.
“And special thanks to Younis, and the very best of luck in his future life. It was a very fine journey with him in the middle, sharing a lot of partnerships, and I loved every moment of that. In the history books, my name will come with him and he’s a legend. He’s a top performer for Pakistan: 34 centuries, 10,000 runs, broke a lot of records. I had 15 hundred (run) partnerships with him and that’s something special to me, that my name will come with his and be remembered in history.
“It was the first ever (series) win for a Pakistan team in the West Indies, so everybody was so motivated and they were working hard for me and Younis. A lot of frustrations, no-ball wickets, a couple of chances here and there, but I think you enjoy wins like that much more than straightforward wins.”
Misbah, who had a poor tour of Australia (December 2016 to January 2017) with the bat, scoring 76 runs in six innings as Australia swept the series 3-0, had his captaincy and place in the team questioned prior to the tour of the Caribbean. But, as he said, it was Uzma, his wife, who convinced him to carry on for just a bit longer.
“This series was only for her because I could have finished in Australia,” said Misbah as he listed his thank-yous at the end of the Test series. “She just convinced me and the fans that I have to come. And this team, too, most of these players (said), ‘You don’t have to end like that; you have to go winning and performing well’.
“Thanks to everybody. My son is not here. He’s watching on TV, so I’m missing him. But obviously, he has his exams and could not travel with us. A lot of others, too. Throughout my career, all the coaching staff, managers, trainers, doctors, and especially the colleagues, teammates, class fellows, teachers, who really supported me throughout my career, throughout my life and would be praying for me. Thanks a lot.
“And fans all throughout the world. Not just Pakistan. Even in West Indies, all the guys they’ve been coming to me, wishing me all the best for the rest of life. But it’s life, everything except the almighty Allah has to end, whether it’s bad or good. I’m happy with what I’ve had in this career.”
Misbah true role model: Richardson
“Both these batsmen [Misbah and Younis] have given so much to the sport and fans over their careers,” said David Richardson, the International Cricket Council chief executive, in a statement. “Misbah has been the bedrock of many a Pakistan innings, time and time again extricating his team from difficult situations with a terrific temperament. He knew how to graft for his runs but could also be inventive and score at a brisk pace, as was evident during his impressive 56-ball century against Australia in 2014 in Abu Dhabi, which equalled Viv Richards’s world record.
“He was a leader who took charge at a difficult time and led the team on a journey to the No. 1 position in the ICC Test rankings. He was a true sportsman and role model, deservingly winning the ICC’s Spirit of Cricket Award for 2016.”
There were words of praise of Younis as well, with Richardson saying, “Younis has been one of Pakistan’s finest batsmen, also often coming up with his best efforts when the chips were down. A triple-century in Tests at home against Sri Lanka and a double-century in a series-levelling effort in India are just a couple of the performances that have placed him in a league above the rest.
“A particularly fine player of spin bowling, Younis was also an able captain who led Pakistan in all three formats of the game with the highlight being victory in the ICC World Twenty20 in England in 2009.”