ISLAMABAD - After the retirement of magnificent Misbah-ul-Haq and superb Shahid Khan Afridi, it will be difficult for current crop of players to fill their void while both the cricket greats will be missed and remembered in years to come.

Pakistan cricket team’s ICC World Cup 2015 campaign came to end with the loss in the quarter-finals at the hands of Australia after which most successful captain of Pakistan cricket Misbah-ul-Haq called it a day from representing the country in One-day Internationals, despite being permitted by Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) to continue leading the green caps in Test matches.

Though Misbah didn’t have aggressive approach yet he will always be remembered as a gentleman, soft spoken and always ready to render his services whenever the country needs him. He was handed over the captaincy at a time, when Pakistan cricket was at its lowest ebb. M Amir, M Asif and then national team captain Salman Butt were found guilty of spot-fixing, Pakistan team was in total disarray, but he came up with wonders and faced worst criticism for his defensive approach, wasting too many deliveries and was never given due credit, but he remained firm and the ultimate result was his praise across the globe as the most successful captain Pakistan cricket history.

It was his brilliant batting, which, on number of occasions, saved Pakistan cricket team’s blushes, and whenever Misbah got out early, the national team always struggled with bat through their full quota of overs. It is true, at some occasions, his overcautious approach cost the team dearly, but on majority of occasions, it was Misbah who led from the front and helped the team register remarkable victories against top Test playing nations. He always played for the country and never went for personal glory or records. His most memorable triumphs would be against England, Australia, Sri Lanka, where he managed to completely outclass the opponents in Tests and imposed whitewash, a very rear feat, which none of his predecessors had managed to achieve for the country.

After criticising Misbah for years, now the same circles wanted him to carry on leading the national ODI side for at least six more months to groom future captain. If the PCB is ready to follow this idea, it will be wrong as the board should have appointed a young vice captain, who could learn from Misbah for the last five years or so. If five years are not enough to groom a young talent, then six months are also not ample for this purpose.

The PCB must move forward appointing a young captain from the available options. It is quite possible the move may backfire for the time being, but it will bring better results in the longer run. South Africa, Australia, Sri Lanka and even India gambled with young captains and all of them proved huge success. The PCB must adopt the same policy, if they really care about Pakistan cricket or else they should take two steps back and appoint either Shoaib Malik or Younus Khan captain for the short term, and groom young captain under them.

Both maestro Misbah and Boom Boom Shahid Khan Afridi will be remembered for a long time and it will take special efforts from generation next to fill the void left by them. Misbah had played 162 ODIs, and batted in 149 innings, remained not out on 31 occasions, scored 5,122 runs and 96 was his highest. He was very unlucky not to score a single century for the country in one-dayers, he had 42.50 average and also taken 66 catches. He has also represented Pakistan in 39 T20 internationals in 34 innings and remained unbeaten on 13 occasions and scored 788 runs with 87 was his highest score. His 37.52 average was far better than majority of players, he scored three half centuries also and taken 14 catches. In Test matches, Misbah played 53, and in 22 innings, he remained unbeaten on 16 occasions and scored 3,736 runs, 161 his highest and his 49.15 runs average speaks volumes about his abilities. He scored eight tons, 25 fifties and also taken 39 catches. Even at 40, Misbah is still the fittest players in Pakistan cricket team. Had the team played like a unit, the Misbah XI could have clinched the World Cup trophy, which could be the ideal send off for the super gentleman of Pakistan cricket.

On the other hand, Boom Boom Afridi was one and only super mega star of Pakistan cricket. He enjoys tremendous fan following not only in Pakistan but also across the globe. Whenever he came to bat, the entire crowd pinned high hopes from Boom Boom, no matter he was playing against any given opponent. Lala had great fan following especially among the Pakthoons, who are not ready to listen to any logical thing when it comes to Boom Boom. Afridi played 398 ODIs, and in 369 innings, he remained unbeaten on 27 occasions and scored 8,064 runs and 124 was his highest. His 23.57 average was pretty ordinary when you compare his talent with others, but on number of occasions, he not only let himself down but also the entire nation and fans by playing casual and unwanted stroke. He also took 127 catches, scored six tons and 39 fifties, took whooping 395 wickets with 7-12 as his best. He has so far played in 77 T20 internationals, batted in 71 innings remained unbeaten on 11 occasions, scored 1,142 runs with 54 as his best with 19.03 average, took 81 wickets with 4-11 as best and also took 20 catches.

Afridi's Test record is much better, as he played in 27 Tests in 48 innings, remained unbeaten on one occasion and scored 1,716 runs with 156 as his highest, had a respectable 36.51 average, scored five tons, eight half centuries, and took 10 catches, while in bowling, he took 48 wickets with 5-43 as his best. Afridi could have easily become the most blessed all-rounder of the country had ever produced, but his poor shot selection and trying to hit every ball out of the park had prevented him from becoming so. He was the best entertainer and super star of masses and will continue to enjoy it for a long time even after his retirement.

It would take extraordinary efforts from the current crop of players to replace such talents. Pakistan cricket team will definitely miss both maestro Misbah and Boom Boom Afridi in years to come.