KARACHI - Saeed Ajmal has said that he declined an offer to captain the T20 side because he wanted to be "relaxed" about his cricket. In an interview with ESPNcricinfo, Ajmal said he was reluctant to take up the captaincy, which was offered to him after Mohammed Hafeez's resignation in April, because he felt he was better as a team player.
"I don't want to put myself forward for captaincy. I think I am better as a team player. I do think about being captain of Pakistan, but I am reluctant too," Ajmal said. "Captaincy in Pakistan is not easy. The captain ends up being blamed for anything that goes wrong. Just look at Mohammad Hafeez. He resigned after our exit from this year's World T20. Why? It's because all the blame was being dumped on him. I have been approached for captaincy but I declined. I want to be relaxed about my cricket. God has blessed me with a sunny disposition and I want to keep it that way."
Hafeez had quit following the team's group-stage exit from the World T20 and the selectors are still looking for a T20 captain. Pakistan's next T20 match is against Australia in October as their short tour to Sri Lanka in August does not include any T20 games. Ajmal also praised Misbah-ul-Haq's performance as captain, saying it was better than former Pakistan captain, Imran Khan. Ajmal said Misbah has been criticized unfairly despite being one of the leading run-getters in the side.
Misbah was appointed captain of the ODI squad in 2011 and has led Pakistan in 71 games of which the side has won 39. He has a batting average of 47.21 as captain and in the 32 ODI games over the last 12 months, Misbah has an average of 52. The PCB has also backed Misbah, retaining him as Pakistan captain until the 2015 World Cup.
"Misbah-ul-Haq has been outstanding in this role. In fact, when you consider the circumstances in which he has performed his job, I would say his services as captain are greater than even Imran Khan's," he said. "Yet he doesn't always receive his due. He's been a tremendous leader during an extremely difficult time for Pakistan and he's been our leading run getter. Yet each time we lose a match, people forget about his magnificent contributions. They start demanding that he be dropped. I really fail to understand this. Even as a batsman, people complain he's too slow, that he blocks a lot, does a lot of tuk-tuk. This is not fair to Misbah. He is a watchful batsman and becomes extra-watchful if the team is losing wickets from the other end, which often happens with us. His approach is appropriate and serves the interests of the team. I can tell you as a bowler that it pleases me greatly to see Misbah standing at the crease. If he is batting, it gives me heart that I will have runs to bowl at."