Legendary stake

Misbah-ul-Haq should be wary of the downside of the job he’s applied for, writes K Shahid

Legendary stake
A five-member committee was announced by the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) on Wednesday, which will finalize the next coaching lineup for the national cricket side. Among the coaching positions on offer are the batting, bowling, strength and conditioning, and of course the head coach.

Islamabad United coach Dean Jones has thrown the spanner in the works with a cryptic tweet that suggested there is “big news” in the offing over the coming week. The two-time PSL winning coach of Islamabad United, Jones has applied for the position of the head coach and is among the three front runners.

Courtney Walsh is another top name in the hat. The West Indian fast-bowling great has served as the bowling coach of Bangladesh for the past three years, a position from which he recently resigned.

Dean Jones

Even so, the overwhelming favourite for the position is Misbah-ul-Haq, who was paradoxically lauded as the front-runner before he had even applied for the post. Misbah formally applied for the position after resigning from the PCB cricket committee.

While he might be fully cognizant of what the position entails, Misbah might have got a taste of what is to come given the criticism that he is facing over the manner of his application. Given that he was a part of the cricket committee that decided against renewing Mickey Arthur’s contract, for him to then apply for the position vacated by the South African reflects a clear conflict of interest. The criticism, hence, is fully justified.

Sure, he might have only considered applying for the position after the cricket committee had decided the fate of the previous coaching staff, but that doesn’t undo the fact that the matter wasn’t dealt with properly – something the PCB should also take responsibility for.

Even so, the bigger question marks are over what lies in the future. For, the fact remains that if and when Misbah is given the job, every action of his will be similarly scrutinized.

Courtney Walsh

Let’s not forget that Pakistan cricket is still paying tributes to Misbah for what he did as the captain of the national side as the captain – especially in Test cricket. Is he willing to get his hands dirty at another thankless job just a couple of years after his retirement, which is something that the national cricket team hasn’t really recovered from in the Test arena?

What, of course, would be different for Misbah in the coaching role is the fact that unlike his days as the captain, he won’t be able to influence anything on the field as he did as a captain and batsman. The coaching role means taking the onus of on-field matters that others are directly involved in – especially when the position is that of the head coach of Pakistan.

Another predicament with the national coaching position is how former Pakistani cricketers, even legends, seem to struggle with it. This is especially true when the coach takes on the position while those who played alongside him are still a part of the team.
Misbah-ul-Haq, Dean Jones and Courtney Walsh are the leading contenders for the head coach position

Whether Javed Miandad or Waqar Younis – two of the biggest names who have had major clashes with players, often their former teammates, as the national team coach – ex-players have it tougher than foreign coaches.

Another interesting angle is that Waqar Younis has also applied for the position of the bowling coach, with no one else coming remotely close to him among the applicants in terms of pedigree. While the Waqar-Misbah combination worked perfectly as the coach and captain, would Waqar be willing to work under Misbah as the head coach? Miandad, who of course has other personality issues, refused to work under Waqar as the batting coach because he was “senior”.

Misbah-ul-Haq with Sarfaraz Ahmed and Mudassar Nazar

Misbah-ul-Haq with Sarfaraz Ahmed and Mudassar Nazar

Of course we’ll look into all these angles in detail once these matters are finalized. Jones and Walsh are pretty strong contenders as well, and others might apply as well.

And indeed, this is not to suggest that Misbah won’t be able to replicate his successes as the captain in the coaching role. However, he needs to know what he is putting at stake, especially given that feathers have already been ruffled in the media – especially among the former cricketers – just over his name being in the hat.