Misbah-ul-Haq is to step down as Pakistan chief selector to focus on his role as head coach.

Former Pakistan captain Misbah was appointed as head coach and chief selector in September 2019.

The 46-year-old will continue to carry out selection responsibilities until a new chief selector starts work on December 1.

Misbah's decision to concentrate solely on his coaching role may have come as a result of the introduction of a new Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) code of ethics, which was ratified in July.

That code aims to put greater emphasis on resolving issues of conflict of interest.

Misbah told PCB chief executive Wasim Khan in Islamabad last week during the National T20 Cup that he no longer wishes to head up the selection panel.

He said: "I have thoroughly enjoyed the dual roles but after reviewing the past 12 months and looking ahead at the workload in the next 24 months of my tenure, it is appropriate that I invest and dedicate all my time, energy and attention to one role from now on.

"Coaching is my passion and my ultimate objective remains to contribute to the development of players and help the side achieve bigger successes. When I was appointed last year, I was offered the coaching role first and then given the option to also head the selection committee, which I had graciously accepted.

"I am grateful to the Pakistan Cricket Board for their understanding and for supporting my thought process."

Pakistan's upcoming tour of England does not come with the caveat that Joe Root's side must return the favour in future, Misbah-ul-Haq has insisted.

Despite the ongoing coronavirus pandemic resulting in India pulling out of fixtures in Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe, Pakistan are set to follow West Indies in touring England for three Tests and Twenty20s between August and September having named a 29-man squad on Friday.

West Indies arrived in England earlier this week ahead of Tests that will take place at bio-secure venues in Southampton and Manchester, and the Pakistan series appears likely to follow a similar format.

Even though the contests will likely be staged behind closed doors, they can still be lucrative to the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB), with West Indies and Pakistan willing to tour a country still grappling with COVID-19.

That has raised suggestions that Pakistan have only decided to travel with the proviso England visit their country in future, something they have not done since the attack on the Sri Lanka team bus in Lahore in 2009.

"It is not in our minds that we are coming and keeping in view something that the ECB has to do for us in return," Pakistan head coach Misbah said.

"At the moment the PCB [Pakistan Cricket Board] is just thinking about the restart of international cricket. That is very important to us, to get the players back on the ground.

"Obviously, in a bigger picture, we are not expecting anything in return. Overall we want not just the ECB but all cricketing nations to help each other so this game can grow. It's important for the cricket fans in Pakistan and also for Pakistan cricket that countries start touring Pakistan."

The prospect of playing in empty stadiums is one few countries around the world have experience of.

However, having staged 'home' Tests in front of sparsely populated stadiums in the United Arab Emirates since the Lahore attack, Misbah believes Pakistan will be better prepared than most when cricket resumes.

"Nobody understands it better than us because we played much more cricket than any other team in the world with empty stadiums in the UAE," he said.

"Obviously in a bigger picture, if we want to resume international cricket, we have to start it from somewhere."

Misbah also said he was hoping for the best for ex-Pakistan captain Shahid Afridi after the latter revealed on Twitter that he had tested positive for coronavirus.

"My prayers are with him, all well wishes with him that he gets out of this soon," Misbah added.

“Throughout the COVID situation he was helping the poor, doing a very good job. I think he was doing a lot of work in the area of Balochistan and the northern areas just to help the people."

Babar Azam has been confirmed as Pakistan's new one-day captain, while Azhar Ali will remain in charge of the Test team.

Batsman Babar is to lead his country in white-ball cricket for the 2020-21 season, the Pakistan Cricket Board confirmed on Wednesday when announcing the new list of central contracts for the upcoming campaign, which begins on July 1.

The 25-year-old averages 54.17 in his 50-over career for Pakistan and sits third in the International Cricket Council’s batsmen rankings, behind India duo Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma.

He had already replaced Sarfraz Ahmed in charge of the Twenty20 side but will now be skipper in the ODI format too, though it is unclear when Pakistan will next be in action.

A one-day tour to the Netherlands was cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic, meaning they may not play a 50-over fixture until they take on South Africa in October.

Ali, meanwhile, is to continue in the Test job, with Pakistan scheduled to play a three-match series against England during a tour that also includes a trio of T20 games.

"I want to congratulate Azhar Ali and Babar Azam for getting captaincy extensions," Misbah-ul-Haq, chief selector and head coach, said. "This is absolutely the right decision as they also require certainty and clarity on their future roles.

"I am sure they will now start looking to the future and start planning so that they can build sides that can perform at the expected levels."

Meanwhile, Naseem Shah and Iftikhar Ahmad were the two new additions to receive central contracts – but Hasan Ali, Mohammad Amir and Wahab Riaz were all absent from the 18-man list.

Amir and Wahab "remain in contention", however, as Misbah is hopeful the experienced duo can help aid the development of Pakistan's up-and-coming fast bowlers.

Misbah said: "The selectors have made the tough decisions to leave out Amir, Hasan and Wahab but considering Hasan missed most of the season due to an injury and Amir and Wahab decided to focus on white-ball cricket, this was the right move.

"However, Amir and Wahab are senior and experienced bowlers and they remain in contention as we believe they can still contribute to the Pakistan men’s cricket team and also mentor our young battery of fast bowlers."

Misbah-ul-Haq says the prospect of Pakistan facing England behind closed doors is "not ideal" but believes it could provide a much-needed lift for "depressed" cricket lovers.

Pakistan are due to start a three-match Test series against Joe Root's side at Lord's on July 30, with three Twenty20 matches also on the itinerary

The coronavirus pandemic has left that schedule in doubt, with England's Test series versus West Indies already having been postponed.

Spectators appear unlikely to be allowed in to venues if and when cricket returns and although Misbah would be disappointed to see the tourists play at empty venues, he thinks international action can help to lift the gloom.

The Pakistan head coach and chief selector told Stats Perform: "It's not ideal obviously, you'd love to go there and perform in an atmosphere with spectators - they are the most important part of any sport.

"It's not ideal, but if you look at it another way, people are mostly locked down in their homes and no sport is going on at the moment.

"They have nothing to watch and mostly COVID-19 news everywhere and people are depressed. In that sort of situation, if we can start sports, if we can start cricket, at least fans can watch that cricket on TV sitting at home and they can enjoy it.

"If you look at in that way, I think if we can do that with proper safety barriers and nobody is in danger, I think we can just go ahead and start from somewhere."

Misbah expects Pakistan players to be ready to hit the ground running when they are able to take to the field again.

He said: "I think in this situation, it's more towards individual responsibility as professionals; what we can do, how we are working.

"We are obviously just trying to communicate to the players that whenever we hit the ground again, the basic thing we need would be fitness. Obviously if we are fit enough, if we maintain our fitness levels, we can regain our form or skill quickly.

"If we lose our fitness in these isolation periods then it's going to be tough because once we are back on the job it will be difficult for us to either work on the skill or fitness. it's important for the players to physically and mentally prepare yourself."

Misbah-ul-Haq has backed spinner Yasir Shah to have a big impact for his Pakistan side as they prepare to take on Australia in an upcoming two-match Test series.

The Pakistan side have undergone a revamp following a frustrating 2019, with Azhar Ali replacing Sarfraz Ahmed as Test captain, while Misbah has been appointed as both coach and chief selector.

Australia provide Pakistan's first opponents in the longest format since this overhaul, with matches set for Brisbane and Adelaide later this month.

Yasir was one of the players involved when Pakistan last toured against Australia in 2016-17, as the visitors succumbed to a 3-0 series whitewash.

And Misbah claims the experience from three years ago means Yasir, who took 1-24 from Australia A's brief first innings in this week's warm-up match, is well placed to spearhead Pakistan's bowling attack this time around.

"Our young fast bowlers and spinner Yasir Shah are our biggest positives," the coach told a news conference. "[Yasir] is aware of Australian conditions and he also had better preparation playing domestic cricket at home.

"He bowled lengthy spells there and he knows exactly what was missing during his previous tour here. So I am hoping that our preparations are better than before.

"It's important for us to take 20 wickets because you can't win without it. I feel our batting line-up is capable enough to put up 400 to 450 runs on the board, so it also helps our bowlers along the way."

Pakistan lost 2-0 in the sides' Twenty20 International series that ended last week, but Misbah believes the introduction of several fresh faces has given the tourists cause for optimism.

"Overall, when you try out different options and search for solutions, you have go through all of that," Misbah said.

"Obviously, when you are settled, you get the results. But if you want to improve a few things, you should also think about the future for back-ups.

"If you need to try new players, you need to look past that [the loss]. Obviously, we were looking to win those games. But we were looking far ahead by giving a few players the experience they need.

"There are a lot of positives for us, and this is definitely going to help Pakistan in the future."

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