'It's a mental torture to go through such things'
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 has 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.
'A players association can help groom players for international cricket'
"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."
'Age is no bar for me'
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."
He also added that political intervention can lead to a resumption of bilateral cricket ties with India and open the doors for his country's players in the lucrative IPL and Champions League Twenty20.
'Only political intervention can lead to a resumption of bilateral ties'
The batsman said he found it frustrating that cricket ties are getting affected because of politics.
"I don't think it is in the hands of players or cricket authorities as far as Indo-Pak cricket ties are concerned. I think politics decides ties between the two countries. And only political intervention can lead to a resumption of bilateral ties," he said.
Misbah said it was unfortunate that Pakistan, despite being a top cricket nation, was not being allowed to play in the IPL.
"It does irritate you. But one can't do anything. Relations between the two countries are always dictated by political issues."
'The more India-Pakistan play each other, the more audiences will mature'
The national Test and one-day captain also stressed the need for resumption of regular bilateral ties with India.
"Playing India is very important for us from a cricketing and financial point of view. The more we play against each other the more mature the audiences will also become. There is always something special about playing against India and the players do miss contests against them," he said.
"As such there has been no tension between players -- we sit together and we get along. But when we play obviously there is great pressure on both sides because of the hype and expectations that come from a Indo-Pak match," Misbah added.