A strict diet plan, regular training key to Misbah Ul Haq's longevity in cricket: Mushtaq Ahmed
14 May 2017 - 22:47
By Rizwan Rehmat / The Peninsula
Pakistan's Test skipper Misbah Ul Haq relies on a strict diet regime to stay in shape and never misses a training session, according to former Pakistani leg-spinner and World Cup hero Mushtaq Ahmed.
"Misbah is the only international player appearing in Test matches at the age of 43 and the reason for his longevity is his self-imposed disciplined way of living off the field," Ahmed said.
The Pakistani Test skipper played his 75th and final Test against the West Indies this week. Misbah's team-mate and former skipper Younis Khan also featured in the final Test of his career as the two top batsmen said goodbye to international cricket.
"When it comes to diet, then Misbah and Younis Khan are the greatest examples to follow," Ahmed said.
"Misbah is 43. He doesn't eat carbs in the night. He doesn't dig into chapatees (bread) or rice. Never. He is always training in the morning. You can't teach this," Ahmed added in a TV interview broadcast in Pakistan.
"At PCB's academy, that's what we are trying to instil in the minds of the youngsters," Ahmed, 46, said.
"We tell the youngsters that nothing is possible without fitness, proper diet and rest. Being the cricketers of the 90s, we can still run for 6-7 kilometres every day in an hour's time.
"Quality training is never wasted. It becomes part of your system," Ahmed, who played 52 Tests for Pakistan, said.
Ahmed was captain Imran Khan's key bowling weapon when Pakistan won the 1992 World Cup final in Melbourne.
The former leg-spinner said Pakistan players are lagging in general fitness standards followed around the world.
Ahmed, who appeared in 144 ODIs, said scratchy fitness standards and inadequate bench strength have caused Pakistan to lose ODI games that they should have won.
"For the last two years, we haven't played good cricket. What has happened is that Pakistan have played most of their cricket in the UAE where the pitches suit our spinners," Ahmed said when asked about the reasons for poor ODI form since the 2015 ICC World Cup where Pakistan reached the quarter-finals.
"Even if we score around 250 over there, our spinners would win us matches. I am talking about spinners like Saeed Ajmal, Shahid Afridi and Mohammed Hafeez. The game would be decided in their 30 overs."
"The moment when Ajmal and Hafeez had their actions scrutinised and were taken away from the game, Pakistani spin department suffered. Now when we go to countries other than the UAE, we see that a score of 300 is actually par score in ODIs these days," Ahmed said.
"The other thing that really matters these days is fitness and diet. When you come in after your first spell, you should have energy and enthusiasm to bowl another few overs at the death," Ahmed said.
"Take a look back at Pakistan's recent ODIs. There are so many games that we seem to have lost in the last 5-7 overs. There have been instances where we have lost games which were ours for the taking.
"Pakistan has lost games they should have won. The reason for such losses is that we are not fit as some of the other teams," he added.
"I was with the England cricket set-up for six years. I will tell you their routine. In the English summer, the sun sets around 10 or half past 10 in the evening. The England players would be in bed by 8:00pm following a light dinner at 6:00pm during Tests or ODIs.
"When you sleep for eight regular hours every day, only then international sportsmen can thrive fitness-wise. Even a good sleep can help you recover from small niggling injuries," he said.
Ahmed, who played for English counties Somerset, Surrey and Sussex in his distinguished career, said new skipper Srafraz Ahmed could change Pakistan's fortunes by way of bold captaincy.
"Sarfraz's body language is aggressive. He is always on alert and he is involved with all plans. (Former captain) Azhar Ali was also good but positive leadership is a must," Ahmed said.