Misbah and Younis deserve honorable exit [Dawn News] 31 Jan, 2017

FOR some time a debate has been raging over the likely retirement of two of Pakistan cricket’s stalwarts, Misbah-ul-Haq and Younis Khan, who over the years have served the game with credit and with dignity. There have never been two opinions about their credentials as batsmen of quality and, in the case of Misbah being a record making captain.I have a feeling that sooner than later they will make way for others to step in and contribute to the game with as much success as both have achieved over the years.The past history of retirements of cricketers in Pakistan, whether average or great, has not been a thing to be proud of and I some time fear that both Misbah and Younis could be dragged into a similar situation as have been their predecessors.Both deserve to go in glory and on a higher note to set a precedent and to break away from the inglorious episodes in the past which were marred either by unjust actions from the cricket boards or mostly by the players themselves who did not choose the right moment to bow out.As I look back to the fifties and the decades after that, I do not find any instance in which a player or a captain hung up his boots when at his peak .The ordinary ones faded away unnoticed and those who reached the top as players were shoved aside unceremoniously, without any trumpets being blown to acknowledge their contribution to the game.And that included Imran Khan, Pakistan’s charismatic all- rounder and World Cup winning captain, Abdul Hafeez Kardar, our country’s first Test captain, Mushtaq Mohammad, Asif Iqbal, Javed Miandad, Inzamam-ul-Haq and Wasim Akram.Jealousy, conspiracies within the team and poor handling by cricket board officials marred their undignified exits which was not a great sight.Pakistan’s first cricket captain Mian Mohammad Saeed, who led his country in unofficial Test matches before Pakistan became a Test playing nation in 1952, was shoved aside to induct Hafeez Kardar, an Oxford University graduate and a Warwickshire player who had already played one Test for India before partition to lead Pakistan against the 1951 MCC side here.He later became the first Test captain in official Tests on tour of India, England and the West Indies before quitting the game as Fazal Mahmood took over. It is alleged that Mian Saeed was involved in a conspiracy to oust Kardar before the England tour in 1954 which proved a failed attempt.Kardar later himself made an unsuccessful attempt to make a comeback to tour India in 1960.First of the great Pakistan batsmen, Hanif Mohammad was told to quit the game in 1969 by then in charge Kardar while the Little Master still had some years of cricket left in him. Like Kardar, Mushtaq Mohammad was a fine leader, a tactical brain but he too after achieving a successful series victory against India at home in 1978, was left out from the Indian tour in 1979 through conspiracies hatched by a couple of players in his team.Asif Iqbal, a fine cricketer, took over from Mushtaq but failed miserably as Pakistan lost the series in India. Asif announced his retirement during the Kolkata Test amidst unsubstantiated allegations of being involved with the bookies, a charge which was never proved. He, however, continued to play county cricket.Imran, Pakistan’s World Cup winning captain, never played for Pakistan after that huge achievement and that I feel was a tragedy for a player of his class. His cup winning speech, alleged differences within the team and a shoulder injury kept him out for the subsequent tour of England. Imran later announced his retirement through a British newspaper after Pakistan won the series against England. Earlier, in 1987 also he had announced retirement having lost an important World Cup match at Gaddafi Stadium before making a comeback for the West Indian tour. Javed Miandad, too, prolonged his departure from the scene and had to leave unceremoniously, as did Salim Malik, Waqar Younis and Wasim Akram but not before having faced rebellions from their colleagues.The present chairman of selectors, Inzamam-ul-Haq was offered a bait, bag full of money by the cricket board, before he hung up his boots. A superb batsman, Inzi walked away from the game rather unceremoniously and amidst all kinds of rumours about his dismissal in his last Test.Now I think the PCB has been sensible in the case of Misbah and Younis to allow them time to make their own decision. That indeed is a signal for both of them to chose their timing which they should because they have been the most valuable assets of Pakistan cricket.I feel that both should go on the West Indies tour before they quit gracefully. However, before they leave they should let the nation and the PCB know as to when and where they would play their last game.So far this Pakistan outfit has been depending a lot on the success of Misbah and Younis. Sadly, though, both failed to click in New Zealand and the Australian tour.Misbah’s one failure does not discredit him and he should, in my opinion, announce before the Test series against the West Indies that he will be calling it a day. Similarly, Younis being the record-breaking player he has been, should step out in grace, having been the only Pakistan batsman to score 10,000 Test runs. By doing so on the tour of the West Indies, both Misbah and Younis will be setting a fine precedent for youngsters like Sharjeel Khan, Baber Azam, Imad Wasim as well as for Azhar Ali, Sarfraz Ahmad, Asad Shafiq and Yasir Shah. I for one would not like to see these two stalwarts of Pakistan cricket leave the game unceremoniously or ever begging the authorities to allow them a farewell game.Published in Dawn January 31st, 2017

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