Pakistan cricket seems to be obsessed with wanting their top cricketers to retire. Be it Misbah-ul-Haq, Younis Khan or Shahid Afridi, there is frequent call for their retirement. No other cricketing nation has debated on the retirement of their cricketers like Pakistan in the recent days.
Interestingly, whenever former Pakistan cricketers are asked to comment on a player’s longevity, most of them respond saying it is time up for the cricketer. This question is often posed when an experienced player goes through a dip in his form, and then the statement calling for retirement of the failed cricketer gains huge mileage. What is strange is that no one wants the concerned cricketer to decide for himself when he should hang up his boots.
Many have called for the retirement of Younis Khan, but within days of their call he replies with a century. The situation is such that though he is only 23 runs short of becoming the first batman to score 10,000 for Pakistan, Younis was forced to remark that his future depends on his team, the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB), and what they expect of him. Although he is 39, his last eight Test matches starting from 218 against England, followed by 127 and 57 against the West Indies have been commendable. But what gets highlighted are his knocks of 2 and 2 against New Zealand and 0 and 21 against Australia, before he silenced everyone with a 65 and unbeaten 175 towards the end of Australian series. Also, why Khan’s failures get highlighted often is because others fail to contribute enough and he is expected to score in every innings.
Currently the pressure to retire is at its peak on skipper Misbah, who is 42 years old, an age when many cricketers turn coaches. But Misbah is as fit as any other cricketer. The danger of playing so long is that a slight dip in form ignites debates on when he would hang up his boots, and that’s exactly what is going now. In his last six Test matches he has hit two half centuries including a knock of 96 against West Indies at Abu Dhabi. But what triggered the call for his retirement was Australia’s recent clean sweep over Pakistan. Since 1999, this has been Pakistan’s fourth consecutive 3-0 whitewash in Australia, and 12th straight defeat.
It is a known fact that the tour to Australia will be a tough one. The question then is as to why didn’t these critics of Misbah call for a younger captain to take over much before the tour? Be it Younis, Misbah or Afridi, allow the selectors to take a decision on them rather than humiliate these gems of Pakistan cricket through frequent call for their retirement.