Mohammad Amir may be the centre of attention in the build-up to the first Test
against England at Lord’s , but Thursday’s match is also a milestone for
Pakistan captain Misbah-ul-Haq.Selection rows and fall-outs with previous
Pakistan regimes mean that experienced batsman Misbah is now making his
first Test tour of England at the advanced age of 42.It was six years ago that
Amir, new-ball partner Mohammad Asif and then-captain Salman Butt tarnished
the reputation of Pakistan cricket with their involvement in a spot-fixing affair
that saw the trio conspire to deliberately bowl no-balls during the 2010 Lord’s
Test against England.All three were given five-year bans and jail sentences.The
intervening period has not been easy for Pakistan, who have had to get used to
playing all their “home” matches in the United Arab Emirates because of
security concerns arising from an armed attack on Sri Lanka’s team coach in
Lahore in 2009.But under Misbah’s shrewd guidance Pakistan have become
tough to beat in the UAE and a competitive side abroad, traits reflected in their
third place in the current world Test rankings — one position above
England.Indeed they have yet to lose a Test series in their adopted home, with
England beaten in two of those campaigns for an aggregate 5-0 scoreline in
Pakistan’s favour.An experienced batsman who has had a calming effect on the
players around him, Misbah has overseen the reintegration of Amir into the
side.Having coped with the understandable interest in Amir making his return to
Test cricket at Lord’s, the scene of the crime, Misbah had no problems in
fending off enquiries about how long he intends to keep playing for
Pakistan.”My retirement has been discussed every series,” Misbah told
reporters at Lord’s on Wednesday.”I could have retired after the UAE against
England (last year) — but we’ve been playing together for six years.”I decided I
need to be here in a tough series for Pakistan, and I really want to do well
here.”Misbah has a fine Test record, with nearly 4,500 runs at an impressive
average of nearly 49 in 61 matches.Yet for all his experience, there is still
something special about playing a Test at “the home of cricket”.”There are no
nerves,” said Misbah. “That’s something you always wait for.”It’s a big occasion
— everyone wants to play at Lord’s, just to perform well here and get the respect
of every spectator and supporter.”But for Misbah it is the health of the Pakistan
team, rather than personal goals, which remains his priority.If you analyse what
we did in the last six years, it’s overall discipline, belief — consistently playing
the same team,” he saidWe missed bowlers — but Yasir Shah came in, and
they’ve been outstanding.”With the batting line-up, it’s discipline”.He added
“Luckily, we played most cricket in UAE, have got used to conditions and made
the most of it.”It’s given us good confidence, and that is really helping in Test