Misbah ul Haq was never going to be Pakistan’s hero. The Universe, the Stars, the Oceans and the Mountains had all conspired against him. Pakistan lives vicariously through its heroes, so they need to see them do heroic things physically, like change the course of the wind or make the mountain come to him.
Nothing reflects an average Pakistani’s fascination with heroes better than the position of the Pakistan cricket captain, the man who in the eyes of an average Pakistani stands up to the dysfunctional and archaic institution that is the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) and produces scintillating performances on the ground despite the system while their nose at the tools of control — the manager, selection committee, chairman etc. This is why this is the most coveted job in Pakistan cricket.
This is why there is always so much controversy and drama surrounding great sporting rivalries. Think of Bodyline, think of Kolkata 99. And then there’s the England-Pakistan drama. Both these cricketing nations have higher profile rivalries with Australia and India respectively. This probably explains why this particular rivalry hasn’t always been talked about in the same vein. But one look at any series between these two and the fierceness and intensity is absolutely unquestionable. To say that the cricketing relationship between England and Pakistan is fraught with controversy, discord and drama that would put a soap opera to shame is easy. Yet it would be reductive to understand this narrative as just a conflict between a new nation and their old colonial masters, in a post-colonial world, although it is a vital part of this relationship. If one begins to peel off the layers and tries to understand this relationship, it becomes clear that the most essential element that makes this rivalry so exciting, is that the two parties give each other a lot of importance, whether they are always willing to acknowledge this or not.