The names Misbah-ul-Haq and Younis Khan will forever be etched in Pakistani cricketing folklore. Their names will also be remembered for their fantastic efforts, resilience and the great way they carried themselves wherever and whenever they played. Ambassadors, battle-hardened cricketers, cricketing greats, role-models are just some of the words that spring to mind when talking about the two veterans.

The two stalwarts served the volatile world of Pakistan cricket with dignity and pride. The fact that they served Pakistan for so long speaks volumes for both men. The crazy world of Pakistan cricket rarely affords time or patience to many of its cricketers, yet Misbah and Younis lasted for many years.

The saviour

Misbah came to the fore in 2010 when Pakistan cricket was on its knees after the spot-fixing scandal in England. There were calls from some quarters for the team to be banned from international cricket and the need of the hour was for a hero and saviour to come forward and rescue Pakistan cricket.

When Misbah was appointed captain, there were some raised eyebrows within the corridors of power at the Pakistan Cricket Board. However, what ensued was simply remarkable. In his own methodical and simple style he built an empire that will be long-remembered. He built a team of solid and reliable cricketers very much in his own mould, men who he could rely upon and men who he knew would not let the nation down.

Misbah’s methods were criticised at times and his style of play did not appeal to many, but he built a fortress in the United Arab Emirates, Pakistan’s adopted home after the terrorist attack on the Sri Lankan team in Lahore in 2009. His style of cricket was well-suited to the surfaces of Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Sharjah. His modus operandi was simple, as he went about initially reinforcing the team, then building it along his own lines, and then taking it to the No 1 spot in the ICC Test rankings.

It was simply the stuff of dreams. Respected by his team-mates and peers, Misbah always cut a commanding and studious figure. Intelligent, calm and composed are three words rarely used in Pakistan cricket, but Misbah was the embodiment of all three. His critics never gave him an inch, but in return Misbah gave them smiles, results, assured words and performances.

The run machine

Younis Khan’s illustrious career can be looked upon as a guide for any young cricketer wishing to make a name for himself in the cut-throat world of international cricket. From humble beginnings, Younis became the record run-scorer in Test cricket for Pakistan, as well as being the record-breaker for the highest number of catches in Test cricket for his country.

A patriotic man, Younis always stood up for what he felt was right, something which at times irked those at the helm of Pakistan cricket. Whatever issues he had off the field with those in authority, when on the field he gave his all and provided many memorable performances over the years.

His beaming smile, his languid and unorthodox batting style, he was a man who could bat and bat and bat. Many of his runs came when his country needed them the most and on many an occasion he made runs when he was being written off by his critics. Well-respected all over the world, Younis’s levels of fitness could only be marvelled and to the end he took great pride in being one of the fittest players in Pakistan cricket.

The two legends can walk away from Pakistan cricket into the sunset with their heads held high, knowing full well that they served their nation’s flag with dignity. Theirs are careers which young cricketers all over the world can look at and try to emulate.

As Younis and Misbah walk away from the Pakistan Test team, what now for the future for both men? Well, the PCB is very keen to utilise their services and both men know they will be in huge demand, although some family time may be the order of the day first. It would appear that coaching seems to be the favoured option for both greats and the PCB would be well-advised to utilise their services to particularly look at why Pakistan is not producing world-class batsmen. Perhaps there is a need for Misbah and Younis to work at junior levels, identifying batting talent and working with that talent to groom it and bring the best out of those individuals.

Worrying times ahead

With the two stalwarts now heading away from the Pakistan Test team, the harsh reality is that this spells worrying times ahead. Very much like when Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis left the scene, the concern is that who will be the replacements for the experienced duo? The fact is that replacing great players like Misbah-ul-Haq and Younis Khan is not going to be easy. The void to fill would be large if one of them was retiring, but with both departing at the same time, the gap is absolutely huge.

It’s very easy to say that someone, somewhere will step up, but the reality is that whoever that someone is will not have the experience, the know-how, the calmness under pressure and the mental resolve that the two retiring greats had. Tough times lie ahead for the Pakistan Test batting line-up and new heroes will need to step up to the plate quickly.

As the dust settles on the incredible scenes and fitting farewell at Roseau, Misbah-ul-Haq and Younis Khan can walk away from international cricket with their heads held high and with satisfaction knowing full well that they served their cricket-mad nation with pride and to the best of their ability. As many would say around the globe, we salute you and thank you, Misbah and Younis.