Misbah: ‘I regret not leading my team against India’

The outgoing Pakistan Test captain wants bilateral cricket relations to improve between the countries.

Misbah-ul-Haq admitted he had been thinking about retirement since 2015.   -  AP

Pakistan’s long-serving Test captain Misbah-ul-Haq termed not leading the national team against India in a Test series as one of his biggest regrets as he bids adieu to his playing days. “What can one say? It is not in our hands but yes it is my regret that I couldn’t lead the team against India. Specially when our Test side was doing so well,” Misbah said in an interview.

“I also see not winning the 2011 and 2015 World Cups as the unfulfilled ambitions of my career,” he stated.

Misbah said politics had put a stop to India-Pakistan bilateral ties since 2007 but after he became captain in late 2010 he remained optimistic he would get a chance to captain in a Test series against the arch-rival. “It didn’t happen all these last seven-eight years. Although I have played in India and I know their people want to see both teams play regularly against each other,” he said.

Misbah, 42, said a Test series against India would have completed his cricket career. “I have achieved a lot in my career; that is why I decided to retire from T20 internationals in 2012 and ODIs after the World Cup 2015. And now I think after taking everything into count this is the best time for me to also retire from Test matches,” he said.

He confirmed the three match Test series in West Indies starting from later this month would be his final for Pakistan. “It is a personal decision and the Pakistan Cricket Board has nothing to do with it. I have been thinking about it for a while now,” he said.

The senior batsman said that given the strength of the Pakistan and Indian Test sides it was a shame they had not played against each other for so long. “We became No. 1 in Test rankings they also achieved this pinnacle and that too without playing against each other. I just hope bilateral ties resume as soon as conditions improve,” he added.

Challenging tours

Misbah confirmed he had thought about retirement from Test matches by end of 2015 but the tours to England, New Zealand and Australia spurred him on to continue leading the side. “These were challenging tours and I knew that if I retired before then my critics would say I shied away from the tough battles and I also wanted to be with my team, a team that developed under my captaincy and achieve major success stories,” he said.

Misbah also made it clear he was under pressure from no one to retire. The Pakistan captain who turns 43 next month said he had seen lot of ups and downs in his career. “I made my Test and ODI debuts in 2002 but after 2003 I had to wait for four years before breaking back into the national side. It was a long wait but after that whatever I achieved was enough rewards for me.”

Misbah, who has appeared in 72 Tests, 162 ODIs and 39 T20s for Pakistan said he had not as yet decided what career he would adopt after stepping down as Test captain. “But I will continue playing domestic cricket or T20 leagues.”

Misbah admitted he felt disheartened with the recent spot-fixing scandal that broke out in the Pakistan Super League. After the hard work we put into reviving our image after the 2010 scandal, this came as a shock. I just hope the players now learn their lesson. And I maintain we need to have exemplary punishment for players found guilty of corruption in cricket,” he said.

PCB Chairman Shaharyar Khan also praised the outgoing captain for his contribution to cricket and announced that a befitting farewell function would be organised to honour the man. “Misbah was a great ambassador for us wherever he went and led the side. Other cricket boards have all sent us letters praising the team’s behaviour and his leadership,” Khan said.