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November 29, 2006

Middle order

Yousuf's humility deserves the record

Kamran Abbasi
Mohammad Yousuf missed out on a double-century for the second time in the series, losing his wicket at 191, Pakistan v West Indies, day five, 2nd Test, Multan, November 23, 2006
 © AFP
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Mohammad Yousuf stands on the threshold of history. Today--barring a stunning fightback from the West Indian tail, an unusually fruitful opening partnership from Pakistan, or freakish weather--Mr MoYo will get his chance to break Vivian Richards' record of most runs in a calendar year. Forty-seven runs separate Yousuf from the top spot, an unlikely opportunity for a man once known for his lazy elegance. There is, of course, nothing remotely laid back about his approach now. Yousuf has replaced lazy elegance with lofty elegance. He is a batsman who makes hard work look easy. He has shown that you can mix cricket with religion--each to his own I say. And his recent display of humility and insight has nudged me into rooting for him to take the record, despite my personal estimation that no batsman has ever matched King Viv.

Yousuf dealt with this particular comparison expertly by stating his own reverance for cricket's greatest master blaster. I agree with Yousuf: there is no comparison.

The second comparison foisted upon Yousuf is the one Inzamam-ul Haq discussed in his newspaper column. Yousuf, said Inzy, is the best ever Pakistani batsman, better than Javed Miandad, and better than Inzy too. Can this be true?

For help I turned to Saad Shafqat, my friend and co-author of Javed's autobiography. Saad offered the following analysis:

"Is MoYo better than JM?

Well, it's always treacherous comparing batsmen from different eras, but I can think of three important comparisons between MY and JM in which JM comes out ahead.

First, JM has played some phenomenal innings - Sharjah 1986, Georgetown 1988, Colchester 1981 - that have cast a longer shadow and created more ripples than anything MY has done so far.

Second, at the top of his game JM was for a while considered first among equals within the elite batsmen of his day - Gavaskar, Crowe, Border, Gooch, Gower, and Richards. (Actually Richards was perhaps always a bit ahead of the pack but JM easily rubbed shoulders with the rest.) MY, in contrast, is still not considered in the same league as his elite contemporaries - Dravid, Tendulkar, Lara, Ponting, Kallis, and even Inzy. MY could still get there, but he has yet to prove himself against this group.

Third, JM brought a lot more to the side than his batting. He was and is a tactical genius and he knew better than anyone how to fight the good fight. His legacy for Pakistan is not just in the batting stats he has left behind but in fact he transformed an entire nation's psyche and made it believe in it's own possibilities.

Oh, and of course JM had mastered the basics like running between the wickets, an area in which MY is a trainwreck."

I agree. Javed was a true master who erased any doubts about his record against the best teams in that 1988 series and in the way he almost single-handedly held together Pakistan's batting in the 1992 World Cup. He also hit the world's most famous six. Viv Richards once said that if he ever had to choose anybody to bat for his life it would be Javed. There can be no higher compliment.

In cricket there are statistics and then there is influence. Influence in cricket, like influence everywhere else, is hard to measure. In my view, Javed influenced more games than any other Pakistan batsman. Yousuf has begun to be more and more influential but he is still well behind Javed and even Inzy.

This doesn't mean that Yousuf does not deserve the utmost respect. He has conducted himself with remarkable honour and modesty. And he is right to point to his innings at Lord's this year as his best. I was lucky enough to be at the home of cricket to see the innings, possibly the most perfect innings ever by a Pakistani batsman. For the brilliance of that double hundred alone he deserves to break the record.

But whether or not he surpasses Viv Richards, Yousuf is a winner today. As some of you have pointed out already, Yousuf's success is a triumph of humility in an age of hubris. Let's hope the Karachi crowd gives him an appropriate reception.

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

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Posted by Hassan on (November 24, 2009, 17:50 GMT)

My ranking would b Inzamam ul Haq ( The match winning King on top ) Muhammad Yousuf Javed Miandad

Posted by nalin on (March 6, 2007, 10:17 GMT)

Javed Miandad is the King of Pakistan batting. Long regarded as one of the three batsmen who could turn a match around. (others were Viv richards & Arjuna Ranathunga). Modern day cricket ia all about scoring runs so the pitches are prepared to favour the batting. Even the powerplay helps batting. So batsmen with higher averages are easy to find these days. But in 70s, 80s & early 90s the situation was different. That is why Viv Richards , Javed Miandad, Greg Chappell is still considered as greats of that era. yousuf is more consistent than Inzi but not as eligant as Zaheer Abbas. If Yousuf plays the way he has been doing, he will become on of the best batsmen in pakistan but still not good enough to beat the Great Javed.

Posted by Asim on (January 15, 2007, 5:17 GMT)

Ok everyone is talking about the differences between Javed, Yousaf and Inzi but the fact is that they all different players with different techniques. Javed was a totally different batsmen,however, his contribution for the pakistan team over decades is praiseworthy. Inzi is like a rock, if he stays on the pitch for than 40 or even 30 runs, anything could happen. When it comes to technique Inzi is probably the best. Yousaf has elegant, stylish and rock solid technique as well and his high back lift and quick reading of the pitched ball is quicker than Inzi and JM. The comparison between players of different countries depends upon their technique, like asian players are mostly back foot players due to the nature of grouds, however, others due to fast pitches are front foot players. But the actual thing to compare is the technique. Yousaf has better instance than sachin, dravid and ponting but not better than lara. Lara has the best foot work and standing instance being as a batsmen. Its a long debate but finally i would like to say that Yousaf is always under estimated and under rated as a batsmen, Greg chappel said once that he could be the dyanamic player but he doesnt realise his skills. As someone said as well if someone could drive better than yousaf, than its michael schumacher.

Posted by faizan on (December 21, 2006, 13:43 GMT)

Muhammad Yousaf bhai you are jussssss the greatest of alll. I lovee uuuuuuuuuu alot. Be brave and keep your best form ticking.

Posted by Dawar on (December 9, 2006, 22:52 GMT)

Two Y's are better than Inzi. Inzi out early against fast bowlers and always aboard his record is very bad. Big shame for the big man.

Y's = Mohd. Yusuf & Younis Khan.

Posted by Raja Asif Mustaf on (December 6, 2006, 10:33 GMT)

M.Yousuf is no doubt a world class batsman that Pakistan has ever produced.He is cool and calm customer but is very dangerous when having a peice of wood"BAT" in his hand.He can power in to any attack with ease and decipline manner.He know the demand of the team and the place himself as a best fit for any situation.He is aving a very firm and cool head on his shoulders.He have a cricketing mind that is always in thinking about how to score and how to handle the game.He is as humble as he is geious in his game.I wish him the more success and blessing in his up-coming tour and rest of the life."SKY IS THE LIMIT M.YOUSUF "

Posted by Rauf Khan on (December 5, 2006, 1:55 GMT)

MY is NOW among the top 10 ALL TIME GREATS. People should never compare him with JM. I'm proud that MY is Pakistani and he deserves all the praise. Congratulations that not only you break Viv's record but are now among the "ALL TIME GREATS"

Posted by Amjad Islam Mogul NYC on (December 4, 2006, 14:58 GMT)

Mohammad Yousif is one of the best player in the history of Cricket and there is no doubt about it his performence is more the excellent this year,i want yousif bhai to Continew with same Spirt and become a all time legend of Cricket, Allah baili

Posted by Old_Friend on (December 4, 2006, 6:44 GMT)

Asalam O Alikum First of all I would like to congratulate whole nation and especially to Muhammah Yousaf for his great batting performance including record breaking event. It is really great honor to have Pakistani batsman on top of a Record.

Well most of people there are talking about Javaid Miandad and Muhammad Yousaf while some are really ignoring Inzimam ul Haq.

I think so it is drawback of our people that we change our whole comments by watching just single phase of some1’s performance. If someone make 2 hundreds in one series we start crying that he is the best he is the best and if someone fails to do than we shout about his place in team.

It is a good phase of cricket in career of Muhammad Yousaf we should admire it but should not think that it is the whole career. He has to play a lot in future. This performance put him in best batsmen ever by Pakistan. But he has to play a long good cricket to be the best. He just breaks TWO RECORDS and I think so it is not ENGOUGH to say him BEST. He has quality to be the best but still again a lot good cricket has to play.

We Pakistani have a lot examples of great phase of cricket by players like Saeed Anwar, Zaheer Abbass,Wasim Akram , Waqar Younas n many more but that was just a SINGLE GOOD PHASE.

In my point of view if you want to give ranking to players than Inzimam is the Best Batsman ever (Including Test n one day). And Wasim Akram is the Best Bowler.

At the end, Muhammad Yousaf please continue your good performance because I m your big fan and I want to see you to be the BEST . Good Luck! Allah Hafiz

Posted by Umar Sheik on (December 4, 2006, 5:32 GMT)

Yousaf is a very good player, i think this year is best of his career, i think after he became muslim Allah has given him more blessings. He deserve it. GOOD LUCK MUHAMMAD YOUSAF

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Kamran Abbasi
Kamran Abbasi is an editor, writer and broadcaster. He was the first Asian columnist for Wisden Cricket Monthly and wisden.com. Kamran is the editor of the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine. @KamranAbbasi

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