Johannesburg – After suffering a 3-0 series whitewash by the Proteas, Pakistan captain Misbah-ul-Huq lamented the lack of Test cricket played by his team and their inexperience in adapting to different conditions.
“Not playing as much Test cricket as other countries is a concern for us, and whoever does the scheduling should consider this,” Misbah said in Centurion on Sunday, after the third and final Test ended with two days to spare.
“We are only playing four or five Tests a year. That's a big worry for developing good Test players and for making sure we have enough players for Pakistan.
“We also need different pitches to play on. When we go to Australia, South Africa, New Zealand and England, it is an area of concern.”
It is easy to sympathise with Misbah: he spoke of the same issues after each of the team's three losses, and he does have a point.
Pakistan play their domestic cricket at home, but for security reasons, cannot host international matches and are forced to play in Abu Dhabi and Dubai instead.
It is a logistical nightmare for them, plus they are burdened with the extra costs.
While the pitches may be similar to those in Pakistan, they are not exactly the same, and they do not enjoy the benefits of having home supporters and the usual familiarities which other teams take for granted.
“We have to really consider that we need to get good sporting pitches for fast bowlers,” said Misbah.
“That will help us with technique and to adjust to the conditions here.”
Misbah repeatedly blamed his team’s inability to adapt to the pace and bounce of South African wickets.
Bowling coach Mohammad Akram went as far as to say one of the reasons the team suffered so many injuries on this tour was because of the different texture and softness of the ground conditions.
Facing the new ball was not easy for either of the teams and South Africa's captain Graeme Smith alluded to this fact in his post-match press conference.
However, in South Africa’s case, the middle and lower order always chipped in when the need arose.
AB de Villiers, South Africa’s only century-maker in the series, scored two 100s while Asad Shafiq and Younus Khan both scored 111in the Cape Town Test.
It should be noted, though, that South Africa had bowled themselves into positions where they were not always required to produce centuries.
Over the three Tests, they declared in one innings, chased a mediocre target for victory in another, and in the case of the last Test, did not have to bat a second time.
“The major difference between the two sides is the conditions,” Misbah said.
“When the number one team is playing in their own conditions, everything is going their way.
“They can exploit their conditions because they know how to bat and bowl here. Conditions really affected the results. They beat us in all departments.”
Misbah said there were a few positives which came out of the series, but he was still disappointed Pakistan had not capitalised on the rare occasion they had the upper hand.
“The way Asad Shafiq played is one of the positives Ä there were centuries by him and Younus Khan. Rahat Ali took six wickets here, in only his second Test, and Saeed Ajmal took 10 in Cape Town,” he said.
“We performed in patches, but we needed to put together performances as a team.
“In the second Test match, we were in a good position but the batting collapse is our major issue and we have to just sort it out.”
Misbah hoped the team would have more success in the forthcoming Twenty20 and one-day international series.
“It is a different story when you play in a different format,” Misbah said.
“It will be really good to have new players come in. They come in with fresh minds and that will really help the team.” – Sapa