Pakistan Test captain Misbah-ul-Haq received heavy criticism for his on-field tactics during his side’s fourth consecutive Test series whitewash Down Under against Australia. However, one comment that raised eyebrows was of the former Australian Test captain turned commentator Ian Chappell. In an interview with ESPNCricinfo, he had said: “Pakistan have now lost 12 Test matches on the trot in Australia, and somebody’s got to give them a kick up the bum. Cricket Australia have got to start saying ‘listen if things don’t improve we will stop with the invites’.”
He was continuing on how Pakistan’s fourth innings score of 450 during the first Test at Gabba act as a reinforcement for the Australian camp to mend their performances.
Commenting on Chappell’s remarks in his blog for Cricket.com.au, Pakistan skipper said: “I noted some very harsh comments from Ian Chappell about my place in the team, my leadership and about whether Pakistan should have toured Australia. I believe those comments were uncalled for and unbecoming to someone who has a vast experience of playing and watching cricket.
“The comments do not make any sense or suit a cricketer of his stature. Australia themselves have been on the losing side in the recent away tours. They were clean swept by a Sri Lanka side that did not have Mahela Jayawardena or Kumar Sangakkara and some of their players didn’t even have 10 Tests to their names. Then Australia lost the One-Day International series 0-5 in South Africa. In the recent past they have been whitewashed by us in the UAE and in India.
“If we apply Chappell’s comments to Australia, does that mean if they continue to get whitewashed on the subcontinent on a regular basis then they should also not travel there?
“And if Australia does not travel to Asia or the Asian teams do no travel to Australia then how are they going to improve?
“I think there’s been a gap between the teams because we hardly tour. If we tour Australia only every seven years then how are we going to improve? The next time we will go there, there might be 8-9 new faces and just two or three players that were part of the previous tour.”
After drawing a four-match Test series against England on the British shores in August last year, Pakistan topped the ICC Test Rankings and Misbah was handed the prestigious Test Championship Mace in September before the three-Test home series against the West Indies.
Misbah’s men were made to toil for a win in the first Test (Pakistan’s first day-night Test) at Dubai and a complacent show in Sharjah saw them throw away a chance of securing a whitewash. The defeat put Pakistan on a gruesome journey which does not seem to end any soon. They lost five consecutive Test after it — two in New Zealand and three in Australia.
“Ever since we lost to West Indies in the third Test in Sharjah in October, we have not been able to regain our winning momentum that saw us briefly rise to number one in the world earlier this year. It all started with the batting collapse there and then a substandard performance in New Zealand. We reached Australia on the back of three defeats and the team was low on confidence,” the 42-year-old wrote.
Pakistan entered the second Test high on confidence after their batsmen had almost chased the 490-run target at Brisbane. One-Day captain Azhar Ali’s prolific double-century helped Pakistan to a whopping 443. Yet, they ended up on the losing side. Recalling the Melbourne Test, Misbah said: “I feel what happened in Melbourne in particular was a massive blow. The batsmen, especially Azhar Ali with his superb double-hundred, had worked hard and helped us post 443 in our first-innings. When you have scored nearly 450 and dominated the match for two days you need your bowlers to back up the batsmen’s hard work. But the two sessions and 58 overs in which Australia scored 278 tilted the momentum that we had gained in the second innings in Brisbane back towards Australia. When you score 450 and the other team still goes ahead of you, that is simply demoralising.
“We always talk about batting in overseas conditions but it is actually bowling that wins you matches. When Asian teams tour Australia the bowlers have a bigger role to play than the batsmen. You need to have bowlers who can get you 20 wickets.”