MOHALI - Misbah-ul-Haq, the Faisalabad Wolves captain, has said a lack of international exposure is hurting the development of young cricketers in Pakistan. Pakistan have not hosted an international match since March 2009 after a terrorist attack on Sri Lanka's team bus in Lahore.
"Definitely, it has had a huge effect," Misbah said in regards to the attack. "When there is international cricket in your country, there is a positive impact on your cricketers. If there is no international cricket, and you don't get to see players in action, it makes a difference to your own team and to the players currently playing for the national team. When you are playing in your country, the confidence you gain from performing at home helps when you play abroad."
Faisalabad were knocked out of the Champions League after losing their second straight match. The batsmen, apart from Misbah, struggled against international quality bowlers and failed to put up competitive totals, which Misbah attributed to a lack of quality cricket. "I have said it earlier in Pakistan too that exposure and skills will only improve when you play more cricket. The more you play under pressure, the more you will learn to handle it, and you will become an expert at handling situations.
"It is unfortunate for Pakistan that there is no such cricket there, which we need to think about quickly," he said. "Right in front of your eyes, you can see players from all parts of the world come here to play the IPL. There are different leagues in other countries and you can see a tangible difference. You can see that in Indian cricket, young players are mature by the time they come into international cricket. They know how to handle pressure, how to build an innings, how to respond with the ball under pressure."
When asked about the manner in which his team was ousted, with an eight-wicket loss to Otago Volts followed by a seven-wicket defeat to Sunrisers Hyderabad, Misbah chose to take a pragmatic approach. "When you lose games, you are disappointed but I think it's a good experience for the team. Most of the guys haven't played any international event.
"By playing in a tournament such as this, they come to know of the demands at the international level. It's a big ask for them to come straightaway and perform here. Any player who plays at this level needs a little bit more exposure and experience, which we don't have. They can learn about how to improve, how they are going to perform, how they are going to get ready for this.
"There is a mental barrier, when you have not played at the international level. When you play at the highest level, you cross that barrier and break through. Then slowly, you conquer those barriers. The more times you cross the barrier, your ability will improve that much more and you will gain more experience too. You learn from your opportunities. They (the squad) have got three matches here.
It will help them in the future, I am sure."
Saeed Ajmal, who is the only other member of the team with significant international experience, has been assisting Misbah in teaching the rest of the squad how to handle the pressures of playing on this kind of stage. "We try to tell them what the demands of international cricket are and how to handle pressure," Misbah said. "How to prepare yourself for this kind of cricket. Whenever we play, we work hard with them to overcome this. They did that at the domestic level, but this is a different scenario. A different platform for them. "