The ongoing cricket world cup has not only been one of the best in living memory, it’s also going to the be end of some of the greatest players careers. Kumar Sangakarra, Mahela Jayawardena, Michael Clarke and Pakistan’s Mr reliable Misbah Ul-Haq are to name some cricketing greats who will no longer be operating in the one day arena after this world cup.
To replace such players is always going to be tough – but in Pakistan’s case they will need to replace Misbah Ul-Haq in more ways than one. The 40 year old who has overseen test wins over England and Australia on ‘neutral’ soil deserves a lot of credit in his time as captain of Pakistan’s one day team.
Although Misbah will be still playing in tests the 40 year old leaves a void in the middle of the Pakistan one day batting line up batting, he also leaves the Pakistani’s with an experienced player short with leadership qualities in the middle order of their batting.
Often criticised for his captaincy, Misbah Ul-Haq took his beleaguered side into the tournament – and did well. Opening defeats to India and West Indies never helps – but the way they roared into the quarter finals, which included a thrilling win over South Africa deserves huge credit.
In life you can never keep everyone happy – and Misbah will know that – but having scored 5,000 with an impressive batting average, it’s fair to say that the people who criticise the Pakistan captain are being harsh.
All good things must come to an end they say – and with Misbah Ul-Haq no spring chicken at the ripe old age of 40, the need to replace Misbah was always inevitable. Many replacements were touted such as Umar Akmal and Ahmed Shazhad – but with both of these players they have gone missing when their country has needed them the most.
Although both of these players are destined for greatness – and the argument is that if either Akmal or Shazhad are made captain it will improve their game with the responsibility, Pakistan have intact gone for 30 year old Azhar Ali.
A surprising choice may say considering Ali hasn’t been involved in the Pakistan one day squad for two years – but the calmness he ensues is the main factor what seems to have swung the opinion of the Pakistan cricket board.
Ali has scored hundreds against England and Australia – so the 30 year old does possess the temperament and skill when play against the top sides. In fact Azhar Ali does posses a very impressive average of 41 in one day internationals despite only playing 14 one dayers.
Selecting players as captain who have been in the international wilderness isn’t something unheard of. Players such as Rashid Latif and Waqar Younis have been selected as captains of the national side after being in the wilderness on the international scene.
As a matter of fact England indeed did the same trick with Alistair Cook – and initially that appointment was a master stroke as the three lions topped the one day rankings.
In Azhar Ali’s case he has captained the likes of Wahab Riaz and Nasir Jamshed in the U19 world cup – so is seen as a popular choice by Pakistan’s players themselves. The main reason Pakistan opted for Ali was due top the fact that both out going captain Misbah Ul-Haq and coach Waqar Younis are both impressed with Ali’s calm persona. It’s not as if Azhar Ali is being thrown at the deep end as Ali has captained plenty of sides domestically – but the Pakistani captiancy will be a test even for the ‘calm’ Azhar Ali.