LAHORE - Pakistan skipper Misbahul Haq on Wednesday said that he was not worried about his future but stressed that several talented young players were capable of taking over from him and should be groomed for the captaincy.
Misbah, who turned 40 last month, is retained as captain until next year's World Cup but Pakistan have not picked his replacement yet. Twenty20 captain M Hafeez, 33, was the likely candidate to take over but he stepped down after Pakistan's disastrous World Twenty20 in Bangladesh in April where they failed to reach the semi-finals for the first time in five editions of the tournament.
Former captain Shahid Afridi, 34, has shown interest in one-day captaincy while Saeed Ajmal reportedly turned down the Twenty20 captaincy. Ahmed Shehzad, 22, is seen as ‘too young’ to handle the responsibility.
"There are lots of players who could be given the captaincy, Azhar Ali is doing captaincy, Umar Akmal is doing captaincy at domestic level," said Misbah when asked of the potential candidates to take over from him.
"I think when they get some experience and automatically when the time comes on them you can give them this responsibility, this is important that board or team management give confidence to whichever player they want to be groomed as captain," said Misbah. "All the youngsters do understand the game and are doing the hard work and performing and they have cricketing sense and that's what you need in the future for a captain," he said.
The veteran batsman had led Pakistan in Tests since 2010 and a year later was drafted as one-day captain after Afridi fell out with the management. Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) defied calls to replace Misbah, who led Pakistan to seven one-day series wins and was the world's top scorer in one-day cricket last year, with 1,373 runs.
Misbah said he was not worried about his position as his priority was to keep performing. "I have always said that captaincy is not in your hand, it's in the hands of the cricket board. For me the important thing is to stay fit and give my best performance. My focus is how I have to perform according to my best ability and that's what I am trying.”
"The biggest motivation is your passion about this game. If you don't have passion then you just spend time and you don't enjoy. When you have passion you compete with others and you try to be the best. Not only me the youngsters have very good fitness and all the senior players have worked hard and tried to push themselves. In future if we continue to push, our fielding level will increase automatically. In batting and bowling when your fitness is good it automatically improves too," he added.
Misbah also lauded the PCB’s plan to introduce fitness-based central contracts for the cricketers and believed the team would reap its benefit in the 2015 World Cup in Australia and New Zealand. "It is a constructive step because the better the fitness of the players, the more they will be able to endure pressure and perform consistently well," he added.
Misbah praised incoming head coach Waqar Younis, who will start his second stint next month. "Waqar has a lot of loyalty with the Pakistan team. When he was the coach he has very outstanding contributions," said Misbah of Waqar, who was head coach from March 2010 to August 2011. Waqar guided Pakistan to World Cup 2011 semi-final. Pakistan tour Sri Lanka for two Tests and three one-day in August.