Misbah backs bowlers, challenges batsmen


Pakistan captain Misbah-ul-haq has backed Pakistan's seamers to do well in England, and asked his batsmen to rise to the challenge of English conditions.

Misbah believes this tour presents Pakistan with a great opportunity to develop their team, and has backed his men to do well.

Speaking during the media event to launch the Test series against England, Misbah said: "This is the biggest challenge for us in a long time,

"This is the best chance for us, and me as a captain, to perform here especially in these conditions. That's the point we have to prove.

"To perform in England, Australia, even South Africa, these are the tours where you really develop your team. The 2010 tour, I think, was a tough tour, but guys like Azhar Ali did well in tough conditions and situations, and that makes you a better player."

The two Pakistan players making comebacks, Yasir Shah, who was suspended for doping and Mohammad Amir, banned for five years for spot-fixing, have been impressive in the warmups, both claiming wickets. Misbah though called on the batsman to prove their worth, saying:  "That's a fact that, whoever comes from Asia in these conditions, the batting really has to stand up,

"If you can put good scores on the board, the Pakistan seam attack is good, and we've got the best spinner at the moment who's really bowling well. We really have to stand up as a batting unit and give them good scores, and we are capable of doing well against them."

Redemption has been a common theme running through the media portrayal of the Pakistan team ahead of this tour. From the board down to the players, Pakistan are desperate to restore the image of their cricket, once world-beaters but now perceived as a group of fractious, egotistical yet talented individuals who are their own worst enemies.

Misbah sees this tour as the culmination of six years of steady progress in Test cricket, saying: "I think we've done really well in the last six years and all credit to the players,

"We've understood what was going on with the Pakistan team at that time, and they responded really well in terms of performances, roles and especially, their off-field behaviours. It's about restoring that image for Pakistan and, as a whole, it's quite satisfying."

The skipper was initially violently opposed to Mohammad Amir's return to the team, but his views have softened, he commented: "Obviously those are decisions not in your control,

"More importantly it is the fans and how they reacted, they wanted to see him back playing and so they [the PCB] made the decision with the support of the ICC. So we are there to support him, everyone wants to see him playing again."

On the issue of how the English public will receive Amir and the Pakistan team as a whole, Amir is not at all bothered, saying: "Honestly speaking, I don't care about these things,

"Personally I focus on what's going on in the middle, and how [Amir] performs when he bowls, that's what we are looking for.

"He's got the best chance to prove himself out in the middle, and he doesn't need to worry about what's happening with thousands of spectators saying something. He just has to focus on what's going on in the middle.

"I think he's bowling really well even on flat tracks in T20 cricket, one-day cricket, four-day cricket,

"His pace is there, he's swinging the ball, he's got all the tricks to get batsmen under pressure. But one more thing is that he's more mature. He wasn't that mature at that time [in 2010], but that maturity can help him now."

Pakistan take on England in the first Test on July 14 at the home of cricket, Lord's.