ICC Champions Trophy 2009 October 16, 2009

An honourable man who deserves better

Younis is a rare kind in an age of PR-savvy, media-trained, brand-conscious and commercially minded cricketers

I met Younis Khan for the first time earlier this month. I had always wanted to meet him and, when I saw the Pakistan team at the ICC awards at the Sandton Sun in Johannesburg, I asked Osman Samiuddin, our Pakistan editor, to introduce us.

We shook hands, and then Younis gave me a hug. It was a natural, spontaneous and very subcontinental gesture. There was warmth in it and, if you wanted look for it, perhaps a message. In his simple and honest way, Younis has been trying to spread this message: make use of cricket as a positive force, for lifting spirits and for spreading goodwill; but treat it as a sport where, inevitably, there will be good days and bad.

We chatted briefly. Pakistan had beaten India a couple of days prior to that and Younis felt for MS Dhoni. The previous day, he said, he had been chased by a few members of the Indian television media seeking a quote or two damning the Indian captain. "Why are you after Dhoni," he asked them, "winning and losing, it keeps on happening. Today, it is his turn, tomorrow it could be mine."

It is easy to like Younis. His is a rare kind in an age of PR-savvy, media-trained, brand-conscious and commercially minded cricketers. He doesn't weigh his every word: he speaks what comes from within, and his earnestness is both refreshing and endearing. He wasn't wary of expressing his reservations about Twenty20 even when he was playing it, and he willingly walked away from it at a time ageing cricketers see it as a handsome retirement benefit.

His captaincy came up in the conversation. "You shouldn't walk away from it this time," I said in jest. "No, no," Younis said with utmost seriousness, "some good things are happening in our cricket. Kuchch karke jaana hai (I want to do achieve something before going.")

Two days later, with the semi-final on the line, Grant Elliot lobbed the simplest of catches to Younis at short extra cover, and Younis, his broken little finger in a bandage, went at it gingerly and spilled it. Elliot went on to win the match for New Zealand and Younis was asked the inevitable question at the press conference: was he worried about what people were likely to say given Pakistan's history?

Not at all, Younis said. It was only a few days ago that he had run out Gautam Gambhir with a direct hit with the same hand and he was a hero; today he had dropped a simple catch and he would be a villain. Such things he had learnt to take in his stride.

Perhaps he was being naïve, but then, honourable men have the right to expect better from the world.

Sambit Bal is the editor of ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • testli5504537 on August 2, 2010, 10:01 GMT

    Hindsight offers a 20/20 vision.Makes one think that it is better to be a mediocre cricketer in any other country than be a talented one in Pakistan.Younis Khan was faced with the ultimate dilemma,perform and run Afoul of the bosses of PCB and not to mention members of his own touring team,or underperform and be accused of "throwing" a match.Its admirable to see this genial cricketer hold on to his equanimity and good behaviour in the face of these troubled times.Class..however remains permanently..

  • testli5504537 on December 10, 2009, 11:35 GMT

    "Honourable men have the right to expect better from the world".....Well said...

  • testli5504537 on November 11, 2009, 7:45 GMT

    I agree with all of what Sambit said here about Younus. My comment is that it should not have been up to Younus to decide whether or not to play in that condition. The team manager physio should act with strict professionalism in deciding whether a player is match fit or not based on simple tests. Clearly there are serious questions whether Younus was fit to play.

  • testli5504537 on November 10, 2009, 7:01 GMT

    I don't know about Younus being an honorable man or not . He might well be honorable , but he is a very poor leader and doesn't lead from the front and he simply cannot qualify for the Pakistan Team as a player on his performance which is pathetic . He should announce his retirement before he is booted out. In this last ODI in Abu Dhabi his series total is 22 . Hardly a performing score from a batsman . even these 22 runs were scored at very low scoring rate . In the 2nd ODI he dropped a crucial catch and in the 3rd ODI he ran out in form batsman Salman Butt and threw his wicket away in the vetry next ball . For the next world cup we need to begin team building . Passengars such as Younus should be shown the door .

    S.N. Kazi

  • testli5504537 on November 10, 2009, 5:54 GMT

    I disagree with Younis,s decision to include himself in the side while he was injured.This is an unpardonable mistake, who else could do such a silly thing in world of cricket"? He put hilself first instead of putting his country first. Lately he has proved to be a bad captain too and a batsman who cannot justify his position in the team.Its time for him to say 'au revoir' to cricket.

  • testli5504537 on October 20, 2009, 16:12 GMT

    Hmmm Nice Article ... Younus should stay as a captin atleast for the coming Worl Cup

  • testli5504537 on October 20, 2009, 15:56 GMT

    The fact of the matter is that Younis' value as a captain outshines his value as a batsman, besides you cannot judge his batting by the previous tournament as he was injured...Pakistan cannot ask for a better captain given their situation

  • testli5504537 on October 20, 2009, 12:35 GMT

    He is one of the best resources that Pakistan has..Make use of him and hats of to the Board for backing him up,Well done :o)

  • testli5504537 on October 20, 2009, 6:34 GMT

    At this time Younis Khan is a perfect captain of pakistan cricket team, because he is a brave man. Everyone know before his leadership our cricket team moral was very down. But now we won T20 world cup and also very well played in champions tropy better than india, WI, SA, SL and england. Younis khan should be our captain at least upto 2011 world cup.

    On the other hand he is one of the best batsman of the world. Younis bhi carry on, never listen those persons who dont know about cricket and only they can say match was fixed etc.

  • testli5504537 on October 20, 2009, 6:03 GMT

    IT's only in the sub continent, cricketers are made to believe that they are playing with the sentiments of the country. But, summoning a captain for losing a final is just atrocious.Certainly, YK is not a kind of man, who not even in his wildest dreams think of doin 'that'!

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