Misbah-ul-Haq has stopped short of declaring he’ll lead the side on their tour of Australia this summer, but the Pakistan captain has stressed it will be extremely difficult for his team to claim an upset series win without him at the helm. The 42-year-old has been a rock in Pakistan’s middle-order throughout the first three matches of their current four-Test tour of England, notching 267 runs at 44.50 including a sparkling century in the first Test at Lord’s, while his calming influence has solidified an historically volatile side. Following ‘home’ Tests in the United Arab Emirates against the West Indies in October?, Pakistan will head to New Zealand in November before their three-Test series in Australia gets underway – under lights, with the pink ball – at the Gabba on December 15.
But the veteran suggests replacing his runs, not to mention his leadership, against Australia and New Zealand later this year could expose Pakistan.
“It’s really difficult to lead the team on these difficult tours,” Misbah told reporters on Wednesday. “For the sake of Pakistan, that’s why I’m here in this tough series.
“Everybody knows that whenever Pakistan, or any Asian side, goes into Australian conditions, they are really tough to handle.
“(We are) trying to plan for that also, because that could be really harsh for someone young (to take over as captain).
“We are looking forward to that (but) it will be a challenge for us in New Zealand and then Australia,” he said.
“Even as a batsman to replace me there, in Australian conditions, it could be a real challenge for a young captain or anyone who replaces me.
“(I’m) looking forward to that, let’s see how it goes after this series and how I plan my future.”
Azhar Ali became Pakistan’s second century-maker of the series with an excellent 139 during the third Test in Birmingham.
The right-hander has passed 50 in each Test but hasn’t been able to produce another match-defining to match his efforts that saw his name etched onto the Lord’s honours board, and it’s no coincidence Pakistan have lost the two Tests since that innings.
Misbah is well aware of how important he is to his side and remains confident he is the right man to steer Pakistan into the future.
“I don’t have that sort of fear otherwise I would have retired a long time ago,” he said with a wry chuckle when asked if he intends to carry on as skipper after the England tour.
“I’m always up for challenges and never thought of the results. That’s what I’m here for. I will keep doing that throughout in this Test match.
“Pakistan needs me after that.
“(But) we will think about that after this series. At the moment what’s important for me and Pakistan is how we go about this Test match.”
At his age, Misbah is used to fielding questions on whether he intends to carry on as captain at the conclusion of each Test series he plays.
Yet his record since taking over as skipper following Pakistan’s 2010 tour of England, tarnished by the spot-fixing scandal that engulfed pace sensation Mohammad Amir and then-skipper Salman Butt, is impeccable.
Eight of his 10 Test centuries have come during his own tenure while his average as captain is 55.55, up from his career mark of 48.62.
Misbah’s leadership skills have perhaps been just as impressive as his skills with the blade, taking a side tainted by controversy and banned from playing matches on their home soil to within touching distance of the No.1 Test ranking.