Playing for Pakistan is like ‘mental torture’ – captain

KARACHI, (Reuters) –  Pakistan  cricket’s endless parade of controversies and scandal has made  playing for the national team akin to ‘mental torture’,  according to captain   Misbah-ul-Haq.
Since appointed test captain in October after Salman  Butt was banned for spot-fixing during last year’s test series  against England, Misbah has led a team dogged by corruption  allegations and political in-fighting.
Following five-year bans imposed by the ICC on Butt and  two other players in February,  Pakistan have    been rocked by the departure of    sacked  one-day captain Shahid Afridi, who  resigned in acrimony in May citing differences with the Pakistan  Cricket Board.
“It is a mental torture to go through such things  and it affects your performance,” the 37-year-old batsman Misbah  told Geo Super sports channel in an interview.
“It is bad for Pakistan cricket and people taunt us at home  and abroad.”
Misbah, who took over the reins of the one-day side after  Afridi’s dismissal, said Pakistan’s players needed a union to  educate them and improve communications with their coaches and  paymasters in the wake of a number of ugly contractual disputes.
“A players association can play a positive role in preparing  and grooming players for international cricket and in  understanding their contractual obligations,” said Misbah, whose  appointment as one-day captain sparked a row with Afridi.
“Once the contract is signed it is no use for players to      complain about it. These matters must not be discussed in the  media, it is better for players to directly speak to the board.”
Misbah’s comments follow leg-spinner Danish Kaneria’s legal  challenge against the board’s decision to overlook him for  national selection.
Despite the troubles, Misbah said he remained fit and  passionate about the sport.
“I am mentally up for international cricket. As long as I am
performing I will carry on,” he said. “Age is no bar for me.
“I feel a cricketer only matures after the age of 30.  Fortunately that is what happened to me.”

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