PCB, team management ignored advice to relook spin bowling attack before World Cup, says Misbah Ul Haq

Pakistan players celebrate a wicket during the ICC Cricket World Cup 2023 match against England in Kolkata on November 11, 2023.
| Photo Credit: ANI

Former captain Misbah Ul Haq has claimed Pakistan Cricket Board ignored his suggestion to have a reassessment of the national team’s spin bowling attack in the World Cup upon the insistence of captain Babar Azam and head coach Mickey Arthur.

Pakistan, who were facing an improbable situation to make the semifinals, failed to progress into the final four for the third consecutive World Cup on Saturday after England won the toss and opted to bat.

While Pakistan vice-captain and frontline spinner Shadab Khan has just two wickets to show in six matches, part-timer Iftikhar Ahmed (four) and youngster Usama Mir (four) have had marginally better returns.

In fact, Mohammad Nawaz, who has got a long backing from the team management, garnered a mere two wickets in five matches of the league stage.

Misbah said in a TV interview that despite the advice from him and Mohammad Hafeez, PCB chose to not have a relook at Pakistan’s spin attack.

“When the Pakistan Cricket Board chairman (Zaka Ashraf) asked for my and Hafeez’s advice for the World Cup. I told them clearly (that) they needed another spinner since the form of Shadab (Khan) and Mohammad Nawaz was a source of concern since before the Asia Cup,” Misbah recalled on Ary News Channel.

Former captains Misbah, Hafeez and Inzamam Ul Haq were appointed in the PCB’s technical committee to advice Ashraf on cricket-related matters.

Hafeez had resigned after the team’s dismal show in the Asia Cup with Pakistan failing to reach the final.

In fact, Inzamam was also named the chief selector of Pakistan for the second time in August this year.

But Inzamam stepped down from his position in late October while the team was struggling in the World Cup, following allegations of conflict of interest.

“I told them the performance of the two spinners didn’t evoke confidence and they should revisit their spin bowling plans,” Misbah added.

Misbah said spinners play a crucial role in subcontinental conditions, adding that he had suggested the team management to take necessary steps to strengthen this aspect.

But the former skipper rued the fact that team’s captain Babar and head coach Arthur did not see value in his inputs.

“They just kept on saying that we are carrying the same set of players, (or the) same team for more than a year and they didn’t want to disturb it,” he said.

Pakistan had leg break bowler Abrar Ahmed among travelling reserves but at no stage he was drafted into the squad.

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