Age of Khan February 3, 2009

Reluctant Younis picks his moment

It could be any other moment that Younis Khan has been offered the captaincy

It could be any other moment that Younis Khan has been offered the captaincy. Pakistan cricket is in crisis and Darrell Hair is making a play for the headlines. Yet this occasion is much different. Hair's most recent rant is a sideshow and Younis has grabbed the captaincy with both hands. Indeed, his previous reluctance has meant that this ascendancy to the captaincy comes when Pakistan cricket is at the most crucial turning point in its history.

Pakistan's form has been variable for years, nothing new there. Its administration has been dysfunctional, nothing new there either. But this last year has questioned the viability of Pakistan as an international cricket nation. Form and organisation become secondary issues when your very existence is threatened.

Sri Lankan has ridden to Pakistan's rescue when all other major nations have turned away. It is a debt that Pakistan cricket must remain mindful of and repay at the appropriate time.

But as Shoaib Malik discovered, a drought of cricket is accompanied by a deluge of expectations. We should be clear what those expectations are. They are not that Pakistan should crush Sri Lanka into the dust, though a victory would be a joy. The real test of Younis Khan's Pakistan is whether or not it can fight its corner with pride and passion.

Younis, the best batsmen in the current team, has no reason to doubt his place, and the captaincy should bring out the best in his competitive nature. As captain, he is naturally an encourager and cajoler, involved in every development of play.

His example will count for much but he will require the support of his senior colleagues. This is not a moment for Pakistan's cricketers to indulge their private agendas. The condition of Pakistan's cricket is too perilous. It is a moment for unity, spirit, and a reminder that pulling on a green cap is the most important occasion in a Pakistani cricketer's career.

Sri Lanka will be formidable opponents. Younis Khan will need time to settle into his leadership role. But the success of this forthcoming tour should not be judged by the result. It should be judged by the attitude and resolve of Pakistan's players. Reluctant Younis has picked his moment with care. Can he seize it?

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