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Three reasons why Misbah should remain as head coach 

The former captain was severely criticised after Pakistan were whitewashed by England  

Three reasons why Misbah should remain as head coach  PHOTO COURTESY: PCB

Pakistan were recently dominated in a three-nil series defeat against a depleted England side, that was completely overhauled just days before the start of the series due to a spread of coronavirus. 

The lackluster nature of Pakistan’s performance against a virtual C-team comprising of players who were plucked out of ongoing county matches has created a storm of criticism with analysts, media pundits and fans alike unanimous in their demands of Misbahul Haq’s sacking as head coach of the national men’s side. 

Misbah was appointed as the head coach for the Pakistan cricket team as well as chief selector on a three-year contract on September 4, 2019, replacing Mickey Arthur in the role.  

His predecessor had done wonders for the Pakistan national T20I side while struggling tremendously in ODIs and Tests. 

Misbah lacked the experience for the job, but his stellar career and accomplishments were deemed enough to get him the job as the most powerful decision-maker in Pakistan cricket. 

A string of below-par performances followed and, consequently, Misbah was forced to step down from his role as the chief selector of the Pakistan men's team on October 14, 2020, preferring to focus on his coaching duties in the face of relentless media pressure. 

With everything considered, here are three reasons why Misbah should continue to soldier on in his current position as the head coach of the Pakistan national men’s side.  

Pakistan’s recent performances 

While the lackluster performances against England were shocking, Pakistan have not been performing very badly in recent times. While some might argue that they have been facing B-teams but that is not the fault of the head coach of the side.  

Another argument is that they lost a couple of matches here and there against weaker teams which they should have won. While that is true, it is also important to note that other teams can also pull upsets every now and then. 

In the last four Test series, Pakistan has played nine Tests, winning four and losing three. In the last three ODI series, Pakistan has featured in nine matches, winning four while losing five. In the last six T20I series, Pakistan has featured in 19 matches, winning 12 matches while losing six matches. 

Most of the losses came against major sides such as New Zealand and England while the wins came against ‘second-string’ South Africa and Zimbabwe.  

However, it is also crucial to note that a larger sample size is needed in order to truly claim that Pakistan is in utter shambles. Right now, the argument hinges more on an assumption that a full-strength or major international side would have dominated Pakistan. More matches against top sides could have provided different results on either side. 

The opposition however is not under Misbah’s control and knee-jerk reactions to the recent shocking defeat at the hands of England could thrust Pakistan more into the abyss rather than propel it forward. 

Fast-approaching T20 World Cup 

Pakistan has a messiah complex. They believe someone will take the reigns of any enterprise and usher it into a new golden age. Cricket is not exempt from this awful reality. With a T20 World Cup fast approaching, it would be a criminal offense to remove the current head coach and replace him with another. No individual can turn the team around because Pakistan’s woes are far more structural than we care to admit. There is a consistent failure to create new batsmen, a lack of improvement on the part of the pacers and an ever-unreliable fielding unit to boot. There are currently no viable replacements dominating the limited-overs domestic circuit that have not been tried.  

With the T20 World Cup fast approaching, it would be better to go in without a head coach if removing Misbah is a top priority because no individual can magically change this side into a world-beating outfit in a matter of months. 

Bringing stability to a volatile eco-system 

The past few years have been different to Pakistan’s tainted and volatile atmosphere. Despite mounting pressure from all quarters, the PCB and in turn, the men’s team management has stuck to its guns and backed individuals for the long haul. The players and affiliated members of the team have been given ample opportunities and allowed to soldier on despite poor performances.  

Every solid structure demands stability and while the proverbial wrong horses were backed in this case, the principle is one that will eventually bear fruit for Pakistan cricket. Individuals affiliated with the team, whether players or coaching staff, should know that once they are selected, they will be backed and given ample chances to succeed. Failure to do so would be their fault and not part of a larger conspiracy.  

In Misbah’s case, he was selected without much prior experience in coaching, but he has been backed and given ample chances. While his tenure has not been a great success, it needs to drive through until its logical conclusion which is the T20 World Cup. His presence will not ensure that Pakistan will do well in the mega event, but his absence could further create a more volatile environment which will hurt his eventual successor along with the entire team.