South Africa have landed in Pakistan for a historic tour where they will play two Tests and three T20Is in Karachi, Rawalpindi and Lahore, but the series will prove to be more than just about the revival of international cricket.
Pakistan’s last series against New Zealand, where the visitors were able to win only one T20I and lost the other two T20Is and both Tests, was dismal to say the least. While Pakistan head coach Misbahul Haq and Waqar Younis may hide behind the fact that they were without the services of all-format captain Babar Azam, it was also their lack of initiative which caused the humiliation.
Misbahul Haq was brought on as the head coach and chief selector after Pakistan sacked Mickey Arthur as the head coach and Inzamamul Haq as the chief selector. Funnily, the committee that was supposed to review Arthur’s and Inzamam’s performance had Misbah as a part of it. He did resign from the committee afterwards, but it was quite clear what he had in mind when stepping down.
Arthur, after his sacking, was also surprised that Misbah who was supposed to review his performances, where the South African coach led Pakistan to a Champions Trophy victory, was then given his job.
Even Misbah wouldn’t have expected such a generous offer where he would be given two roles and the monetary incentive that came with both of them. However, he forgot that people who see a meteoric rise through the ranks of PCB are sooner than later brought down with the same intensity.
And so it happened. After disastrous results, Misbah opted to shed one post and it was that of the chief selector. His excuse, he wanted to focus solely on coaching, something he must’ve thought of before taking on the dual responsibility.
Meanwhile, Waqar was brought on the as bowling coach after sacking former Pakistan all-rounder Azhar Mahmood. While Azhar may not have pulled off miracles with the Pakistan bowling, he was surely a positive influence since everyone saw the rise of Hasan Ali during his times and also the rebirth of Mohammad Amir as the star in big matches.
It is important to see that this duo of Misbah and Waqar had also worked together previously as captain and coach, respectively, during the latter part of Misbah’s career. Even at that time, certain players, without coming forward openly, had reservations against Waqar. The return of Waqar created controversy for those players and later Amir, who has had enough with the mind games, openly criticised former Pakistan pacer for showing bias against players.
Even if you put aside the he said, she said version of the stories, Pakistan’s performance in international cricket is a clear sign that Misbah and Waqar are not the perfect fix for all of the problems currently staring the Men in Green in the face.
Pakistan’s batting on international tours is disastrous to say the least, even with a former world-class batsman like Misbah at the helm of coaching. Some may argue that Younis Khan holds the batting coach’s position, but he was brought in very late in the current mix.
Pakistan’s fielding is all over the place, which shows how much work (read no work) is being done in the aforementioned department. As the head coach, Misbah once again needs to be questioned over why it was happening and why the PCB didn’t hire one of the best fielding coaches in the world?
The only good thing that has made Pakistan a world-beater in international cricket is their bowling and even they were unable to dismiss complete New Zealand line-ups in seaming and swinging conditions, a fact which surely questions the effectiveness of Waqar as the bowling coach.
All in all, Pakistan may beat a visiting South Africa on their home turf in Tests and T20Is and Misbah and Waqar will try their best to add it as a feather in their caps. However, there is no question that the problems caused by Misbah and Waqar outweigh the ones they have solved during their tenure.