Azhar Ali and Umar Akmal have the potential to be my successor, says Misbah-ul-Haq

"To me there are lots of players who could be given the Azhar Ali and Umar Akmal"

“To me there are lots of players who could be given the captaincy…like Azhar Ali and Umar Akmal”

Image courtesy of: ESPNcricinfo

Pakistan captain Misbah-ul-Haq has announced that batsman Azhar Ali and wicketkeeper-batsman Umar Akmal have the potential to be his successor and take over the reigns when he decides to retire.

Ul-Haq’s comments come after he turned 40 last month.

“It is important for the board to decide who they want as captain. They should start grooming and giving them the confidence,” ul-Haq said. “To me there are lots of players who could be given the captaincy…like Azhar Ali and Umar Akmal. Both are doing captaincy (in domestic cricket) and I think when they get some experience you can safely hand them the responsibility.”

With the 2015 World Cup less than a year away, ul-Haq noted that the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) have to start grooming one of the youngsters to succeed him as captain.

“I don’t think there is any problem as we have players who can take over the responsibility,” ul-Haq said. “All the youngsters understand the game and are doing the hard work and performing but you will take some time, one-two years. Both [Akmal and Azhar] have cricketing sense and that’s what you need in the future.”

Ul-Haq also refused to say whether his captaincy was in jeopardy after all-rounder Shahid Afridi stated that he was open to becoming a leader once again.

“I have always said that captaincy is not in your hand, it’s in the hand of the cricket board,” he said. “For me the important thing is to stay fit and give my best performance. My focus is on this, that how I have to perform according to my best ability and that’s what I am trying. Rests of the things are not in your control and I don’t even think about it.”

Speaking about the month-long fitness camp, ul-Haq pointed out that the players would benefit from it in the long run.

“You might not get an immediate result,” he said. “However, each player knows it has enhanced endurance. Your base is on your fitness in any sport and when you are fit you have better performance in all the three departments. Especially in such heat when you push yourself you increase your endurance, your strength is improved and you get improved in all the departments.

“The biggest motivation is your passion about this game. If you don’t have passion then you just spend time and you don’t enjoy. When you have passion you compete with others and you try to be the best. Not only me the youngsters have very good fitness and all the senior players have worked hard and tried to push themselves. In future if we continue to push, our fielding level will increase automatically. In batting and bowling when your fitness is good it automatically improves too.”

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