Captaincy December 6, 2007

Let it go, Captain Khan

Let it go, Captain Khan

Younis Khan, suggest reports emanating from Bangalore, is about to turn his back on the Pakistan captaincy for a third time. We all know that Younis loathes nothing more than being somebody's dummy. We all know that the unreasonable reactions of Pakistan fans turn his mind from the captaincy. But if the reports are true and Younis does not lead Pakistan in Bangalore, he will be the dummy and an unreasonable one at that.

Admittedly, Pakistan's decision-making has defied logic. Yasir Arafat rushes in too late to play. Shoaib Akhtar leaves his hospital bed to open the bowling. Kamran Akmal remains Pakistan's wicketkeeper for his batting and not his glovework. Abdur Rauf is summoned but blocked by the board. Meanwhile, Pakistan's stand-in captain is an agitated bystander.

What power can Younis expect, though, as stand-in captain? He keeps the seat warm for his younger leader, and it is churlish to complain since this is a situation of his own making. The captaincy and the power could have been his.

Statistically, Younis is one of Pakistan's best ever batsmen. Everybody who scoffed at his heroics at Kolkata needs to remember that Pakistan have an abysmal record of saving a Test match on the final day. Far more illustrious Pakistan batting line-ups than this one have flopped miserably in less trying circumstances.

Yet Younis has never managed to capture the broad acclaim to match that of the people he rubs shoulders with in the records table. Some of this reluctance is down to Younis's unpredictability, although he is increasingly reliable. Some of it is down to juvenile mockery of his bottom-slapping technique of player motivation.

Much of this ambivalence, however, is entirely explained by his bizarre relationship with the Pakistan captaincy. The first refusal could be explained by principle. The second explained by emotion. Many Pakistan fans have been exasperated by these decisions. How could somebody refuse the national leadership role? This third hesitation will eradicate any sympathy for Younis's stance. The question is a simple one: What matters more to Younis, his pride or the opportunity to rescue this Test series for his country?

Let it go, Captain Khan. Your pride infuses your play but your pride is also diffusing your senses. The best answer to people in the squad or in the PCB who might undermine you is to show them what you are capable of on the field. That is where you win the argument, not in press conferences, syndicated columns, or air-conditioned boardrooms.

A Pakistan team with its third captain of the series will be a limp challenger to India's dominance.

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