Ethics and morality February 16, 2009

The curious case of Mohammad Yousuf

Why should players be unable to hold ICL contracts and play international cricket

The Pakistan Cricket Board is inquiring again into the circumstances of the forfeited Test at The Oval in 2006. It is an inquiry without a clear purpose. The match is now recorded as a technical defeat but the result is an irrelevance.

Although it was a moment when Pakistan cricket fought its corner in the world of cricket politics, two consequences have caused immeasurable damage. First, the rift between Inzamam-ul Haq and Bob Woolmer became ever wider. Second, the controversy ushered in Naseem Ashraf's disastrous reign as head of Pakistan cricket.

It was also the year that Mohammad Yousuf claimed the record number of Test runs in a year. Yousuf batted beautifully. He was easy on the eye yet his mind was tough. He was unbeatable and unswerving in his commitment to score more runs. The best years of his career were upon us. But the plummeting trajectory of Pakistan cricket has claimed him as a major victim.

Yousuf has done himself few favours. He has harboured a thinly veiled grudge over the cricket board's failure to appoint him as captain. His decision to turn to the ICL was rash and career threatening. And now, it is hard to imagine that his decision to see out his ICL contract is driven by principle rather than self interest.

Nonetheless, Yousuf has just cause for complaint. The purge of religion from Pakistan's team identified him as its most obvious target, and Shoaib Malik failed to bind his senior colleagues--and most notably Yousuf--to his cause. Too quickly, Yousuf moved from being indispensable to being yesterday's man, when his form and ability merited a greater respect and expectation.

The greatest failing, however, is that the Pakistan Cricket Board, like all other international cricket boards, slavishly followed the BCCI's lead in condemning ICL cricketers to a career without recognition or international cricket. Hence, whether Yousuf has arrived at his position through laziness or greed, the central point is valid: Why should players be unable to hold ICL contracts and play international cricket?

If there is an inquiry that the PCB needs to conduct with urgency it is one that questions the legitimacy of the stance of its fellow cricket administrations. Indeed, Pakistan cricket has lost more current international cricketers than any nation to ICL. How long will this abuse of cricketers and their international careers be allowed to continue without a serious challenge? This may not have been Mohammad Yousuf's intention but it should become the cause that reunites Pakistan cricket and gives the new cricket board immediate credibility.

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