Misbah-ul-Haq: Nothing Pakistani about him
Misbah-ul-Haq has played the game in his own style unlike many other glamorous Pakistani cricketers.
In cricket, there are multiple ways in which a batsman celebrates upon reaching a milestone like a half century or a century. Many take off their helmet and look up at the skies thanking the almighty, few others kiss the ground & the bat, while some just raise the bat and acknowledge the applause of the crowd. But in my living memory, I have never seen a batsman perform push-ups to celebrate a century.
An act which the Lord’s crowd would not have expected
Well, this is not a figment of my imagination but it is exactly what Pakistan skipper Misbah-ul-Haq did after reaching his century against England at Lords. When asked about this act, Misbah was quoted by Cricinfo as saying, "We did a camp in Abbottabad before the skill camp in Lahore, and we used to do an honour code every time, we just stepped into the ground and did ten push-ups. And I promised them, if ever I score a hundred, I will definitely do that to remind you that we were there."
Whatever be the reasons it definitely defied the odds and was not what the traditional crowd at Lords would have expected from a batsman who had reached his century.
But such has been Misbah’s career, that he has more often than not challenged the widely held norms. Take for instance his age, he made his test-debut at the age of 27, that’s the time when most of the great sub-continent batsmen are already in the middle of their career. Today he is 42 years old and with this century he incidentally became the oldest captain to score a test century.
62 test matches in 15 years
In these 15 years since his debut in 2001, he has played only 61 Tests. Again one gets a feeling that a batsman of his calibre should have played more test matches. It should be noted that between 2003 & 2007, he did not play a single test due to inconsistent form.
A moment of adrenaline turned him from becoming a Javed Miandad to a Chetan Sharma in the 2007 T20 World Cup final against arch-rivals India in South Africa. Fans will recall that Pakistan was one shot away from winning the World Cup when Misbah decided to scoop the ball over fine-leg only to be caught by the Indian fielder. Emotional Pakistani fans never forgave Misbah for that shot and it is his misfortune that almost ten years down the line people still remember him for that one shot.
From Tuk-Tuk to fastest 50 & 100 in tests
He was nicknamed as “Tuk-Tuk” (Urdu word for the sound coming from the bat when a defensive stroke is played) for his slow batting. But he answered his critics by scoring the fastest fifty in test cricket in 21 balls and equalled the record for the then fastest test century in 56 balls (the record for the fastest century was broken by New Zealand’s Brendon McCullum). He may not have the flair that one has become accustomed to seeing from Pakistani players. But his average of almost 50 suggests that he is more than effective.
Also read: Misbah-ul-Haq: Pakistan's invisible hero
It has been just one day since his century and already the focus has shifted on to two other Pakistani players - Mohammad Amir (for his comeback) & Yasir Shah (for his 5 wicket haul). Three more days of test cricket and people might just forget that a certain Misbah-ul-Haq had scored a century on day one.
Will he ever get is due credit?
But Misbah will not complain. He is not only used to shedding off the limelight but also knows that he will have to take the blame, as always, if Pakistan lose this test match. Maybe when he has hung his boots, Pakistani fans will acknowledge his contribution to Pakistan cricket. Till then, Misbah will score runs and be prepared to be scrutinised for the slightest of mistakes.