Karachi: Pakistan's long serving Test captain Misbah-ul-Haq is overjoyed at the response of the Pakistani people to the return of international cricket on home soil after six long years.
Misbah, who has been Test captain since late 2010 and retired as captain from one-day cricket after the World Cup, said the enthusiasm of the crowd in Lahore during the first Twenty20 against Zimbabwe was unparallelled. "It didn't seem like it was the revival of international cricket in Pakistan, it was as if the team was playing its debut match," Misbah said according to the "Dawn" newspaper.
The senior batsman said he had only witnessed a similar sort of atmosphere while playing in India. "I have never seen this kind of support before, the crowd was enjoying and appreciating each and every run taken by the team," he said. International cricket returned to Pakistan last weekend when Zimbabwe played two T20 matches at the Gaddafi stadium before jam packed houses.
Misbah felt that in the six years no Test team toured Pakistan and the national team was robbed of from getting the crucial home advantage. "Home advantage is huge because you are aware of the pitch and other conditions. We have seen the example of New Zealand in this year¿s World Cup; they lost the cup when they played their only game outside New Zealand."
But he admitted that the Pakistani cricketers had adopted to playing their home matches in the UAE and said they felt at home there. "We felt that we had some sort of home advantage while playing in UAE and Abu Dhabi because we had played so many matches there and never lost a Test series in UAE."
On cricket in general, Misbah lamented that in modern day cricket the focus of the new age cricketers had shifted to monetary benefits. He said this was killing the passion for the game. ¿I spent my own money in the early days of my career, a time when people would think it was impossible for someone from a small town like Mianwali to represent Pakistan, he said.
Misbah also called upon the Pakistan board to empower the captain and coach in selection matters. Misbah said the selection committee had complete control on who to pick, with the captain having only an advisory role. "They only ask for the captain's opinion and it is up to them to select the team; the captain himself has no authority," he added.
"If we want good results we need to empower the captain and the coach as well." He also felt that Pakistan needs to start a cricket league on the pattern of the Indian Premier League (IPL).