Historic centurion Misbah remembered fondly at Penicuik

Misbah-ul-Haq equalled Viv Richards' world record
Misbah-ul-Haq equalled Viv Richards' world record
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When Misbah-ul-Haq hit the shot that earned him a place in sporting history this week by equalling Sir Viv Richards’ fastest-ever Test century, reverberations were felt across the cricketing world – and all the way to Penicuik.

For Pakistani captain Misbah’s journey into the record books contains more than hint a of tartan tinge having, nine years ago, spent part of his career as professional at the Midlothian club while plying his trade in the (then) Scottish second division out of their Kirkhill ground.

But, while Misbah had no trouble harnessing an Australian attack including Mitchell Johnson, Peter Siddle and Nathan Lyons in Abu Dhabi – Pakistan are prevented from playing at home following the terrorist attack in Lahore five years ago – it seems he had much more bother seeing off Scottish bowlers.

In his five games for Penicuik, he amassed one run short of a century with a top score of 41. However, there were mitigating circumstances according to ex-colleague Willie Morton, who also played for Warwickshire.

“I remember Misbah as a really nice big bloke who came in mid-season and played a handful of games for us when our professional, Graham Manou, had to return home to Australia en route to a place in an Ashes series.

“There was talk at the time of another Pakistani, Imzaman, joining but in the end we got Misbah until his country called him away to a training camp.

“Misbah had to adapt to our conditions midway through a season but while he may have struggled for runs his class was only too apparent.

“What has been great, too, is the fact that he didn’t just leave and forget us. Subsequently we were joined by another Pakistani pro, Mo Ramzan, and through him Misbah would let the lads know he was thinking of the club.”

Misbah, right, whose whirlwind knock helped Pakistan clinch victory and a series win, can also claim the fastest half century in Test cricket off 21 balls which is three better than South Africa’s Jacques Kallis.

Surprisingly, he wasn’t the only sporting celebrity to don flannels for Penicuik in 2005. Adds Morton: “Coincidentally, Misbah’s debut came on the same day as (Scotland goalkeeper) Andy Goram returned to play for Penicuik.

“By contrast with Andy turning out in a Sussex 2nd team sweater with a hole in the back Misbah was always immaculate in appearance.”

Misbah returned to Scotland a couple of years ago to face Scotland and Morton recalled then: “I remember batting with him once at West Lothian and he told me just to stay there and he would score the runs.

“He obviously didn’t know the way I played and must have wondered what was going on when I kept swishing away!”

Penicuik president John Downie recalls Misbah visiting his home to finalise terms.

“Pakistan happened to be in Scotland playing at Hamilton Crescent, Glasgow, and he was happy to stay on.

“It’s fair to say he didn’t set the heather alight and he did play some stupid shots going in at No.4 such as stepping across his crease and leaving his leg stump exposed.

“But he was a good bloke who was a member of a team that gained promotion; in that sense he played his part including with some seam-up bowling off a couple of strides.

“He took over the flat in Penicuik that our departing pro occupied and seemed happy enough at the club until Pakistan recalled him.

“I drove him to the train station and he apologised for not fulfilling his potential.”

On the other hand perhaps Scottish league cricket at that time was of a higher standard than was generally realised!

Certainly Misbah is now up in lights and his 56-ball century surpassed similar efforts by Aussies Adam Gilchrist (58) and David Warner (69) as well as their 1920s star Jack Gregory (67) while West Indian Shivnarine Chanderpaul had a 69 ball ton.