ISLAMABAD: While insisting that replacing skipper was no practical solution to the problems faced currently by Pakistan in ODI format, Test captain Misbah-ul-Haq on Monday emphasised players needed more one-day games in domestic cricket to excel in cut-throat international ODI contests.
“Mere replacement of the captain will not work as it’s the entire team that feature in contests. Therefore, only skipper should not be blamed in the case of team’s failure,” said Misbah while talking to reporters here.
Misbah was speaking here at the National Ground during a ceremony to celebrate Islamabad United’s victory in the inaugural Pakistan Super League achieved under his captaincy earlier this year.
Azhar Ali, of late, has come under severe criticism from several quarters for his spineless leadership after Pakistan were crushed 1-4 in the five-match series in England.
The criticism is not unfounded as Pakistan, who are presently placed at a pathetic ninth spot in ICC ODI rankings and are in danger of losing direct qualification for the 2019 World Cup, were whitewashed 3-0 last year in Bangladesh where Azhar led the country for the first time and failed badly as captain.
Losses to England (3-1, UAE) late last year and New Zealand (2-0, away series) this year were also conceded when Azhar was in charge of the ODI team.
“Change in Pakistan’s domestic cricket structure, focusing specially on one-day format is need of the hour, otherwise our one-day team will not be able to come up to the nation’s expectations,” said Misbah.
Unlike the Test team who are enjoying the top spot made under Misbah, Pakistan’s ODI team have struggled badly during the last year or so.
After the recent series loss to England the demand to remove Azhar as captain has gained momentum. Misbah, however, thinks otherwise.
“Pakistan cricketers on the domestic circuit have been facing shortage of one-day matches, which I think is the main reason behind the declining performance of our ODI team,” Misbah reckoned.
“There has been a specific focus in our domestic cricket on four-day matches and T20s, but somehow no particular attention was paid towards one-day format,” Misbah said, noting that currently players got very limited opportunities of competing in domestic one-day matches.
“When you play only four to five one-day domestic games during a year, how you can perform well at the international level? Our players should be given at least 15 to 20 one-day matches in a season,” he said.
Responding to a query, the Test skipper said he had long been expressing greater emphasis on one-day format and in recently meetings had also conveyed the same to the PCB.
Meanwhile, speaking on the occasion, PCB Governing Board member and the head of domestic cricket Shakil Shaikh acknowledged the shortcomings pointed out by Misbah.
The PCB in the light of Misbah’s recommendations had already decided to put special focus on one-day matches in domestic cricket, Shakil said.
“We have decided to increase the number of one-day tournaments. Earlier, there was only one national one-day event [during a season]. But now, we will organise three events, in which players will get around 20 matches,” he said.