Australia v Pakistan, 3rd Test, Hobart, 5th day

I'm willing to take advice on captaincy - Yousuf

Osman Samiuddin in Hobart

January 18, 2010

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Mohammad Yousuf chats with Abdur Rauf on the second morning, Australia v Pakistan, 1st Test, Melbourne, December 27, 2009
Mohammad Yousuf: "I have just started it and have only done six Tests so far and the circumstances I took it up in, nobody wanted to do it" © Getty Images
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Five of Mohammad Yousuf's nine Tests as captain have been against Australia in Australia. Each one of them has been lost and the latest defeat in Hobart, to seal yet another whitewash - Australia have four 3-0 series wins on the trot now against Pakistan - is demoralising enough for the inevitable movement to begin in Pakistan demanding his removal.

Though Yousuf has been an amiable, well-liked leader of his men off the field on this tour, his on-field captaincy has led to much criticism, particularly in its essential defensiveness; his timid tactics on the fourth morning at the SCG was the worst embodiment of it, allowing Australia to sneak in and win a seemingly lost Test.

Yousuf's batting returns as captain have been poor; he averages under 34, with a solitary hundred in nine Tests. In this series, where much has depended on him, he hasn't scored big, averaging less than 30 and making just one fifty in six innings. He conceded that leadership may have affected his output, but insisted that he would like to continue as captain.

"Maybe [it has affected my batting]. I have good form but I don't know, I am just not making runs," he said. "I've been in better form on this tour than in my last two tours but just not making enough runs. I enjoy my job and I would like to keep doing it. I am trying to do it sincerely. Maybe my captaincy is affecting my batting. Maybe. There is a lot of pressure on me, to speak to batsmen and bowlers, but somebody has to do the captaincy. I have just started it and have only done six Tests so far and the circumstances I took it up in, nobody wanted to do it. I have done ok I think.

"I am a new captain and captains are not born. It takes time. I am willing to take help from anyone. They say I made mistakes. I probably did, for sure. It can happen. But tell me what to do, and then if I don't learn or am not listening, then criticise me. I am ready, I will speak to anyone about it."

Right through the series Yousuf has insisted that expectations about his side - "young and inexperienced" - have to be realistic, even if this Australia side was beatable, more so than past sides this decade. Australia, he said, were still the top side in cricket but bigger names have come in the past and returned vanquished.

"Australia looked a beatable side people say, but what about ours, how beatable did we look?" Yousuf asked. "We could've been better than them in Sydney but the pressure got to us. We've been bowled out chasing 120 before with bigger names in the team, like against South Africa in Faisalabad [in 1997-98]. That had such big names in it, you name me one here, in this side.

"What happened to past Pakistan teams here? Yes Australia was strong but we were strong as well back then. Think of the names we have had, the biggest names in Pakistan cricket, who have been part of losses here: Wasim, Waqar, Inzamam, Saeed Anwar, Shoaib, Akhtar, Saqlain Mushtaq, Azhar Mahmood, Abdul Razzaq, Moin Khan."

Pakistan's next Test assignment will be Australia again, but this time in England in July this year, for what is a two-Test 'home' series. Things might change by then, but patience and a few changes in the side might make for brighter prospects, said Yousuf.

"If we are honest, all of us stakeholders, if we put together an honest team, we can have a good team. It will take time. It took India time as well, a lot of time. We can make this side better. We are weak in a few areas. We lost the series and are disappointed. But the way they played, a young side, inexperienced, I am happy with that."

Osman Samiuddin is Pakistan editor of Cricinfo

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Osman Samiuddin Osman spent the first half of his life pretending he discovered reverse swing with a tennis ball half-covered with electrical tape. The second half of his life was spent trying, and failing, to find spiritual fulfillment in the world of Pakistani advertising and marketing. The third half of his life will be devoted to convincing people that he did discover reverse swing. And occasionally writing about cricket. And learning mathematics.
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