He is a 40-year-old man who stabilized a sinking ship after the spot fixing debacle. He has far too often had to cover for the mistakes made by his team mates. He is the epitome of tranquility and has stood up against adversity.

He has risen from cricket obscurity and should be given the ‘luxury’ to enjoy his last few ODI matches for the country he has served so well without nearly enough acknowledgment. But he still has to deal with the weight of the world on his shoulders.

He is the captain of the Pakistan cricket team – the lone warrior surrounded by a self-destructive flock of youngsters. His name is Misbahul Haq .

Misbah has been the one constant in the Pakistan batting lineup over the last four years. And yet he is the one who is the most criticized. Hard to believe, right?

It is preposterous to think that this man, who has literally carried perhaps the least talented of all Pakistan teams, comes under so much scrutiny.

He is Pakistan’s most successful Test captain. Under his leadership Pakistan has managed to whitewash both Australia and England in Tests. Yet he is criticized, questioned, even dubbed ‘geedar’ by some people in the Pakistan cricket fraternity. 

To call such statements ‘harsh’ would be an understatement. To call them analytical would be absurd. To question the motives and sincerity to Pakistan cricket of those using such language, might well be the only logical explanation, considering the fact that these ‘experts’ are supposed to read the game better than your average cricket follower.

Misbah’s Test captaincy record with limited resources is close to miraculous but there is scepticism with regards to his leadership skills in limited-overs cricket. That is reasonable when you consider his win/loss record. However, to question his batting is beyond the realm of logic. It is not like Pakistan is spoilt for riches with regards to batting resources, neither in the World Cup squad, nor among those overlooked for the tournament.

Misbah is the only Pakistan batsman who averages over 40 in the current team. His strike rate is questionable yet better than the likes of Ahmed Shehzad. His strike rate is also owing to the responsibility of rebuilding and consolidating an innings when the rest around him are falling like a pack of cards. Pakistan’s batting without Misbah would not just look weak, it would look comical.

Just to give you an idea, since 2012, when Pakistan has batted first, more than 38% of the times, we have failed to bat out our full quota of 50 overs and that is with Misbah steadying the ship.

Imagine a Misbah-less ship. Remove Misbah from the Pakistan team and what remains is a spineless batting order not even capable of lasting 40 overs, let alone 50.

Some have suggested the inclusion of Asad Shafiq while others want Shoaib Malik as his replacement. Let’s compare: Asad Shafiq has a strike rate of 68.37, and an average of 24.97. Misbah’s strike rate is 5 runs per 100 balls better and his average is nearly 19 runs more per innings compared to Shafiq.

Shoaib Malik, meanwhile, averages 18.9 since 2010; and it is not as if he wasn’t given an extended run in the team. He was given 12 consecutive ODIs in 2012/13 and he only averaged 26.3 during that period.  

Hence, those questioning Misbah, and his place in the team, must first come up with alternatives based on stats, facts, figures or performances rather than personal preferences.

Let’s be honest, Misbah isn’t as naturally gifted as Lara, de Villiers, Ponting or Inzamam. Why would he be loved by Pakistanis? We are a country obsessed with superficiality, and hanker after intangibles. We believe in miracles and are plagued by our lure towards the supernatural or the phenomenal.

Ranging from our social structure, to our impatience with democracy, to our inept nature of falling for everything that is out of the ordinary, we have been fooled countless times.

What else do you expect from a country where there is little, if any, source of amusement? What else do you expect in a place where most fear for their lives or their livelihood?

Misbah is not the miracle man; he is the constant. He is not a rock star; he is a dockworker.  He is not someone with freakish talent; he is a thorough professional.

He is everything that we ignore. He is everything we don’t want to be.