Friday, 7 April 2017

MISBAH : The most successful un-Pakistani, Pakistan Captian.

I was born in a place called Kashmir , where people literally were die hard afridi fans indeed they still are , and at that time when whole Kashmir was all about Afridi , It was about copying his hairstyle , the style of batting, didn't matter even if required no technique, except closing of eyes and smashing everything that comes in the way, the same was the case with my family , as the fans used to call themselves "The AFRIDIANS". 

As I grew the most popular game of my land also, what I may say, struck me as well. It was about watching everygame of cricket doesn't matter even if it was meaningless , between the minnows or even if it wasn' t televised , I would find the way by reading score uptades and commentary on Cricinfo . Unlike the people of my land , I was different to say the least , never an AFRIDI fan, my early introduction to Pakistan cricket was through Muhammad Amir , indeed he was the guy who literally made me know what cricket really was, he made me feel what it really was . Aamir was the guy who rose to fame overnight becoming a household name everywhere and it was the reason for me getting involved in cricket in a way I had never thought. That 2010 scandal was enough for me to decide that may be cricket wasn't the thing I should focus on.

One day, while reading the newspaper, I got to know that Misbah was appointed as the skipper of Pakistan team. . . . . . Oh just a second, isn 't this the same guy who cost Pakistan the World Cup, he was indeed the most hated person in KASHMIR and so was in Pakistan . I didn't watch that World cup final but I just remembered the hundred he scored against India when Pakistan toured India in 2007.

Whenever Misbah came to bat or cameras focused on him while he was fielding, everyone I mean everyone, just used to say this line " ye gov suey scoop wol "( he is same guy who scooped the ball against India) which they seemed to have just on the tip of their tongues, just incase misbah's face might flash on screen. Misbah, the poor guy .

This guy hadn 't any thing to show, but after being appointed as Captian, that Test series draw against Saffers found my heart saying to me that he is the guy , well I wasn't suprised to see that I was only person who actually admired Misbah, indeed I was shell shocked to hear when one of my friends told me that he admires Misbah and wants to emulate his style of batting, I was like, could you say it again . . . . . . . I had seen people leave no stone unturned to criticize him indeed they abused him to the highest level they could have . But there I was, who found himself to be another Misbah,  one of the facts that one day playing for my club , I opened the innings and came back not out after 20 overs to found that I had scored 45 runs . . . . . somebody yelled "Misbah of our club" , with everyone bursting into laughter, but not me probably I wanted to hear those words or maybe I felt proud on hearing that. Misbah became an inspiration , an idol, a teacher and till now I still can 't figure out how , I mean how.

Those matches in UAE and England used to end by midnight, here in Kashmir, and I used to hear a repetition of words every night " why are we watching this torture again and again , Misbah should go " , how , how can anyone say that how , your middle order dont score , openers are pathetic, its just Misbah with some useful contribution with lower order that take Pakistan so close, otherwise they would always be beaten ruthlessly. I felt Pakistan didnt deserve Misbah, but if not Pakistan then whom , it had to be either Pakistan or nothing. Misbah made a way in the hearts of Kashmiris  (indeed call them Afridians), how could he , a man with literally no swag , no agression, no charisma , no flamboyance , I mean how can Kashmiris even think of him, how ? .
That complete thumping of England in UAE in 2012 changed perceptions, of course it changed , it was visible by how people reacted now and it was visible  at the forums of a popular  cricket discussion site Pakpassion as well.

 I had seen people hating Misbah as if he had killed someone , someone who was their life, but by now, a lot had joined the " Misbah Fan Brigade " but a huge number still not ready to accept the truth. That ODI series win against Saffers in South Africa was something I may call utterly delicious. Misbah became the first Asian captian to do so, with haters still mocking him, but this time, THE MISBAHIANS didn 't care about it, they started to behave as cool as their captian often did , literally reactionless.

Misbah had turned a huge no. of Misbah haters into his fans, how could he , how , he never was as aggressive as Imran khan, never was as Ironic as Hanif Muhammad , and above all, never arrogant , never. A man who never yelled at his bowlers , who never complained about his batsman, infact every time his players made a mistake, he never complained indeed it was a typical Misbah style "PUTTING HIS HAND ON HIS FOREHEAD AND EYES DOWN ", letting the player know that he had done it wrong. Misbah played the game the way it should be played, as it is called a GENTLEMAN 'S GAME although a very few people play it that way.

In a space of six years Misbah made each and everyone of his haters his fans. From a time when posts about him used to be filled with anti - Misbah comments, where it was difficult to find anyone supporting him , and now when the scenerio is exactly the opposite , Misbah won the hearts of his haters with his defensive style , a style that is so
so UN- PAKISTANI thing . I saw people of my land becoming die hard supporters of a person whom they hated the most and today nobody seems to remember that final of 2007 World Cup, something which he pointed in his interview with Hassan Cheema in 2015.
"Ten years from now no one will read anything about me . They' ll just see my record. And they 'll think, ' Oh, so this guy played only in his 30s and still averaged 50 ? Oh, he averages 44 in ODIs and won this number of games for Pakistan? Oh , this was his record in won matches and successful chases . That is all anyone will care about. Ten years after you leave, who cares if anyone in the press box was with me or against me? My legacy will be in my
numbers. "

In the same interview Misbah said that that he was the youngest in his family and most Nikamma(useless) . Well if you are a Nikamma , then Misbah everyone of us would want to became a NIKAMMA. In this article Hassan puts it nicely in the end " A man of reason, of logic , of numbers; it is no wonder Misbah never connected with fans like someone of his accomplishments should have . Yet, as is the case with most Pakistani greats, his legacy will likely become greater as the years pass . Every passing month the name-calling and the rancour between the diehards and the detractors will become a fading memory. And what will remain is the fact that he was never supposed to be a cricketer, let alone a captain and a towering wall against a tide that could have swallowed Pakistan cricket.   History will remember a boy from Mianwali who fell in love with cricket , adored it , ignored his father's advice, pursued it, worshipped it, and
finally conquered it . "

Well this is me, Uman Naq ( well you might call me a Kashmiri Misbah) from round the wicket , signing off and wishing this WI series would be the best of Misbah 's life and brings happiness to all Pakistanis and Non- Pakistani Fans like me.

The captian might retire but he and his so un-Pakistani legacy will always live in our hearts.

Instagram: knottynaq

Misbah had made a habit of posing with trophies, right from his childhood. 
Azhar Ali , someone who always mentions Misbah for His sucess. 
The oldies always liked to grind the opopposition bowlers.

Uman naq is a freelance journalist with weekly HEAVEN TIMES, he also writes at Pakpassion and is an active blogger.

Wednesday, 7 December 2016

The decline of Pakistani pace bowling attack

Pakistan cricket team always had the history of producing great fast bowlers. Many of them like Wasim akram, Waqar younis, Imran khan etc became world beaters and were possibly the best at the time when these guys played. Bowlers like Akhtar, Razzaq, Asif, Gul etc just gave a feeling that Pakistani pace attack is never gonna die.But post Lords Scandal Pakistan,  really never had a threatening pace attack that could literally shiver the spine of a quality batting order. And records just make this fact clear. During the past six years,  Pakistani domestic cricket, although produced a lot of talented bowlers but none of them really could show signs of Akram, Waqar, Akhtar. On 4th july 2009, in a test match against Srilanka, a 17 year old,  young kid grabbed the eyeballs of everyone, praises poured in from everywhere. Well this very young kid was MOHAMMAD AMIR.

        This young lad lived up to the expectations and each passing day, he became more threatening. It was all fine till that fateful day, when amir deliberately bowled two no balls in Lords test in August 2010. While Amir claimed that he was forced to do so, but he also himself accepted that he bowled no balls for money. Other two players Mohammad Asif and Salman Butt were also found guilty and banned from playing international cricket. All the three, also faced prison terms. This incident had a deep impact on Pakistani cricket and Pakistani pace bowling department was the worst affected. Pakistani domestic cricket lost it's ability to produce threatening quicks. Speed of pacers dropped effectively. From an average speed of 145kmph-150kmph, it dropped to much lower 130-135kmph. And nowadays swing is nowhere. Pacers have started depending more on slower  ones, cutters and other varaitions than on traditional pace and swing. Bowlers like Imran Khan jr. have been really exceptional in domestic  cricket but have proved ineffective in international cricket. Bowlers like Wahab, Sohail Khan, Amir, Junaid Khan having an average speed above 140kmph have been inconsistent with fitness, consistency, effectiveness and rhythm. Recently during ENGLAND series, fast bowler Sohail Khan really was threatening, but all this was limited to the first few spells of 1st inning and afterwards it was really pathetic, specially in 2nd innings. Similarly Wahab Riaz has really looked threatening at many occasions but performance has never been consistent. Mohammad Amir also follows the suit. His spell at Sher-e-Bangla stadium on 27 February vs India during Asia Cup match really showed signs that he might be returning to his best very soon. But lack of performance against England, Windies and New zealand was just disappointing. Although, he has been bit unlucky because of those dropped chances that could have made the situation reverse.

 Sohail's performance during 2nd innings have been pathetic.

        These factors have made a  lot of people say that Pakistani pace bowling department has lost its ability to produce quality quicks. Some have gone even far by saying that it has extinct/declined or it is declining at a rapid pace. This could be proved wrong as it is a famous saying that Pakistan Cricket is a synonym of inconsistensy and it is what defines them. We never know that all of sudden we might see some world class fast bowlers being produced by Pakistan. But as of now, it is clear that Pakistani pace bowling  attack is either ineffective or this art has faced an extinction in Pakistan. Well there might be something like that. During the past decade when Pakistani pace bowling attack has been out of sorts, but on the other hand, Pakistani spin bowling department really has developed greatly and produced world class bowlers like Saeed Ajmal and Yasir shah too is following the footmarks. While this era has seen a decline of pace attack but has been a significant improvement in spin attack.
      The Pakistan Cricket Board just cant take this thing lightly. They have to take the requisite measures so that this great art never faces extinction. The PCB and PSL franchises have already taken many measures and they are commendable but a lot more needs to be done in this regard.