Misbah & Younis: A lasting legacy

Misbah-ul-Haq and Younis Khan have carried the torch for Pakistan for long. However, they have not quite got the recognition they deserved.

The retirements of Misbah-ul-Haq (above, left) and Younis Khan (right) will be a big void to fill for Pakistan.   -  Getty Images

Two of Pakistan’s stalwarts will have played their last match for their country by the time you read this. Misbah-ul-Haq, the Pakistan skipper, and Younis Khan had announced before the series against the West Indies that they will retire from all forms of the game after the third and final Test. Misbah will turn 43 on May 28, while Younis is close to touching 40. They have had a long career, and it is a testimony to their fitness and the desire to do well for their country.

With so much cricket being played, and in all sorts of formats, it is not easy for the modern cricketer to cope. However, Misbah and Younis have carried the torch for Pakistan for long and they will be missed for sure. It will be a big void to fill for Pakistan, and though there will be young players waiting for their opportunity, the fact that these players have played for so long suggests that the Pakistan selectors are not quite happy with the younger lot coming through.

Younis became the first Pakistan batsman to reach the 10000-run mark, something that he will, no doubt, be proud of. He has not quite got the recognition he deserves for his batting, but once he puts his bat away is when the importance of his batting will be realised.

The sub-continent has produced some fine cricket writers, but somehow they haven’t been able to convey how good Misbah and Younis have been for their country. The same is the case with the two Sri Lankan legends, Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara. It’s only after Sangakkara delivered the MCC Spirit of Cricket Lecture, and started playing for Surrey in the English county championship that he got the credit he deserved. Jayawardene too was given his due after he became the batting consultant of the England team for the tour of the UAE. So, when a player, especially if he is English and even though has not achieved even a quarter of what the sub-continent players have, is talked about as a legend, sadly most in the sub-continent will believe it too.

The final of the Indian Premier League will be played on May 21. It’s been 10 years since it all started, and it has incredibly changed Indian cricket. Talent meets opportunity has been the maxim of the IPL and it has lived up to it, though, perhaps, not as much as expected. What has happened is that because of the dazzle of the IPL and its huge coverage, many an ordinary player had got to the opportunity to play for India ahead of much more deserving players who are not playing in the IPL. One good innings, or one good spell of bowling gets a player so much mileage that he becomes almost a household name overnight. If the same publicity is given to those who play the Ranji Trophy and do well there, then those players too would be on the fringes of playing for India. Unfortunately, not only are there no crowds for the other domestic tournaments but even the media hardly goes to all the matches. The coverage for these domestic tournaments in the media is minimal with the print media giving only a few column inches as against page after page for the IPL. The electronic media virtually ignores the Ranji Trophy and other domestic tournaments.

Have a look at most of the players who have gone on to play for India after they were selected on the basis of their IPL performances. Apart from the odd ones the others have faded away to such an extent that they are not even in any IPL teams now. They were not in the Ranji teams anyway, so their cricket has been more like a flash in the pan.

Most of the franchises that picked some uncapped players will be regretting their decisions of having spent the big bucks on these players. If anything, the scouts who push these players need to be accountable. However, these scouts are so good at their PR with the owners that the big-ticket player may be forgotten the next season, but the scouts and advisers will stay on. The one massive plus point of the IPL is that it has made cricket a great career option not only for the players but also for those who are associated with it. That’s why it baffles me when some of those who owe their jobs and earn a living because of the IPL are ready, at the drop of a hat, to rubbish the League.

But then, that’s why Mera Bharat Mahan.