Middle order November 23, 2006

The nervous 190s: a nice problem to have

When Mohammad Yousuf grew his beard he also grew in stature

When Mohammad Yousuf grew his beard he also grew in stature. His stunning performance this year places him second only to Vivian Richards, a batsman so great that it seems indecent that anybody might surpass him. Another 149 runs at Karachi and Yousuf will nudge ahead of King Viv's record of 1710 runs in a calendar year.

Before any of you point out that more Test cricket is played these days, Viv set his record in 19 innings, Yousuf is on 17. Whether or not Yousuf's transformation from a gifted wastrel into a grafting wonder is anything to do with his religious conversion is a moot point and something that it will never be possible to prove convincingly. But it is clear that Yousuf has become a phenomenon.

With Inzamam's dip in form in Test cricket, Yousuf has emerged as a serene and silky leader of Pakistan's middle order. His batting has acquired a surreal quality whereby his calm state of mind dominates proceedings. Yousuf's touch and timing is such that his bat caresses and kisses the ball to the boundary, a sharp contrast to the wonderful brutality of Viv Richards.

No doubt Yousuf's zen-like performance in 2006 has won him a seat at the high table of Pakistan cricket. For much of his career he was dismissed as a flat-track bully and a man who would shrink to the occasion. But the last two years have seen Yousuf firm up his resolve and thrive under pressure. Multan may have been as flat as a paratha but it was a pressure cooker situation. On a final day when Pakistan are prone to disaster, Yousuf summoned up his will and fought a mental battle to guide his team to safety. The technical battle has rarely been a problem for him.

Yet one doubt hangs over Yousuf, just as it does over his fellow troopers in Pakistan's middle order. To raise themselves to the level of true world masters, Yousuf, Inzamam, and Younis Khan must show their class on pitches that don't favour batsmen, on pitches that spit and bounce, and against balls that swing and seam. Such a test is fast approaching in South Africa. Let's hope the final judgment is a favourable one.

In the meantime, it is fair to celebrate Yousuf's achievements of 2006, a stunning performance by a batsman of such grace and poise that he seems unfit for this age of biff and bang. Of all the mishaps in the world, a spot of bother in the nervous 190s is a nice problem to make your own.

Kamran Abbasi is an editor, writer and broadcaster. He tweets here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • testli5504537 on January 27, 2012, 3:11 GMT

    I didn't know where to find this info then kaoobm it was here.

  • testli5504537 on December 1, 2006, 0:27 GMT

    A stunning performance from a player respected the world over. Does Pakistan have any more tests in 2006 so that he can extend this record?

  • testli5504537 on November 27, 2006, 18:23 GMT

    And he has done again at Karachi, 22nd century and only 46 runs away from Sir Richard's 1710 runs. I was at Multan stadium when he was playing a big knock and nodoubt it was a treat to see him and Lara playing amazing innings. I was doing commentary for radio and what a joy it was to describe both innings. I cannot compare Yousaf with Richards, both r poles apart, have different techniques,styles and temperaments. Both r great and of course Sir Richards was more mature, more seasoned than Yousaf. Iam not belittling Yousaf, he has a class of his own and that is unmatchable. He needs some more years like current one to reach greatness of Viv Richards and he has himself acknowledged it at Karachi today . I salute his humble attitude.

  • testli5504537 on November 27, 2006, 17:32 GMT

    mohd yousuf will be the greatest pakitan batsman has ever produced.He has still got time he has only warmed up let us hope that his great form continues.Insha allah.

  • testli5504537 on November 27, 2006, 12:56 GMT

    yousaf is class act but in a differnt mould.sir viv.was super bat who cuold tharsh any attack on any surface. yousaf has to prove this as yet. his main asset is his ability to pick lenght early .this put him in the catigory of very few batsman who are easy on eyes.his real test is coming on s.a. tour in jan.2007.if he score one 190 on that tour he will really be puching sir viv. for the title of most dominating batsman at a strach.i think if one look into the hot streaks of modren batsman it will become much easier to draw a conclusion in this respact.

  • testli5504537 on November 27, 2006, 6:52 GMT

    Hard luck sami. But pl. stay cool as you appear to be in scheme of things. Captain and couch want you to be in S.A bound side .We look farward to get some good performances from you in that tour. no one knows your game batter than you so we expact a good show this time.

  • testli5504537 on November 26, 2006, 18:45 GMT

    he is a phenomenon

  • testli5504537 on November 25, 2006, 22:50 GMT

    mohammad yousef batted really well in the first two matches against west indies. i hope he keeps it up and performs well in the 3rd match in karachi. i hope inzaman gets back into his form.

  • testli5504537 on November 25, 2006, 18:33 GMT

    Let's look at what we have today in world cricket. Firstly, Bangladesh and Zimbabwe, masquerading as test teams and depreciating the game; Sri Lanka, depending on the wizadry of Muttiah's bent wrist for test victories; Australia, bullies beating teams in a watered down, weak era of test cricket;Pakistan, promising much but not delivering enough amid the muddle often created by its cricket administrators; England, still thinking that the empire exists and Brittania really rules; West Indies, only saving glory being Lara and still living in the 1980s; South Africa, tough on the surface but a soft underbelly and with a leaning toward choking;India, perpetually flattering to deceive; New Zealand still searching for true pedigree despite its grit. Of today's heroes, who would have made it in the era of Richards, Holding, Marshall, Thompson, Lillee, Hadlee, Garner, Croft, Roberts, Imran Khan, Bedi? Jacques Kallis is a week-era joke who could not have averaged 45 in the decade 1978 to 1988. I would have loved to have seen Graeme Smith face up to Thompson and Lillee, he could not have made a test fifty against them far less get a test century.And what about huff and puff Mcgrath? he is an excellent bowler but could not have made the West Indies team in the early 1980s. Yousuf for all the talk has made a lot of runs off run-of-the-mill attacks. Two 190s off Dave Mohammed, Corey Collymore, Daren Powell,et al, is nothing to sit by the fire and tell one's grandchildren. I think that he is an exceptional talent but could he have made the Pakistan team in the era of Majid Khan,Javid Miandad, Mustaq and Sadiq Muhammed, Asif Iqbal,Imran Khan, who all faced sterner test from greater bowlers? Can you imagine Virender Sehwag caning an attack of four taken from Marshall, Roberts, Holding, Garner, Clarke or Croft? Also remember that the seemingly creditable New Zealand team of the present era was no better than Bangladesh and Zimbabwe back in the 1980s. Remember Ken Rutherford? He would probably have averaged between 40 to 50 in this era, but back in the 1980s, it was painful to see him face up to the West Indies. Rumour has it he used to wake up in the middle of the night, screaming, "Malcolm Marshall! Malcolm Marshall!" It is all about relativity. It is always problematic comparing outside of eras but it brings soundness to some of the hysterically emotional arguments one hears sometimes. Case in point, there are some guys who were average to good in the mid-1970s to late 1980s who would have been cricketing gods with some of the poor lot playing world cricket today. In this era, the likes of Mohinder Amarnath, Wasim Raja, Derek Randall, Kim Hughes, etc, would have been cricketing icons. But they came up in a tough era and are not considered "greats" by yesterday's standards. Tino Best, for instance, would not have been allowed in the West Indies dressing room in the 1980s unless he was getting an autograph from someone. But he actually made the team in this era. Can you believe that such names as Lincoln Roberts, Suruj Ragoonath actually played test cricket for the West Indies? Of the current players, there are some who would have walked into their respective teams at any point of history. But there are only a few. Ponting, Lara, Tendulkar, Dravid, Pollock, Ahktar, Muttiah, Warne, Yousuf, Ul Haq, to mention a few. Flintoff is a good prospect, but I am wary of classing him with Botham, as the Poms are doing. England has a history of catching at straws to keep their morale high and to maintain the belief that they have something to offer, when in reality they are engaging in the pastime of hyperbole. David Beckham is a classic example of their hyperbole. Enough said.

  • testli5504537 on November 25, 2006, 18:32 GMT

    yousuf is the greatest batsman of all time no one is above him

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