New Zealand 2009 December 4, 2009

Yousuf's test of leadership


Mohammad Yousuf: a captain trying to earn respect © Associated Press

Mohammad Yousuf's team is in a dominant position after two further days of gripping Test cricket. It is an advantage that Pakistan could not have contemplated until the bowlers got to work. Daniel Vettori and colleagues are doing a good job in talking up their chances but Pakistan will be mortified if they fail to level the series from here.

It is especially frustrating being a Pakistani supporter at the moment. There are genuine reasons for excitement, almost exclusively resting with Pakistan's diverse and penetrative bowling attack. The other beacon has been the batting of the Akmal brothers, especially Umar who will have an opportunity to put the match beyond New Zealand on the third day.

But some of their fellows and the strategies are causing perplexion and inviting criticism. Yousuf is baffled by criticism as he is making decisions by consensus, including the surprising call to send Umar in at number three when more experienced batsmen were available.

Listening to debate and discussion is an important part of leadership, as is being able to see a solution that might not be your own. But experts reckon that 80% of leadership is decision making, and Yousuf must move from merely reflecting the consensus view to listening to the discussion and making his own decision.

By that route he will adhere to one of the tenets of good captaincy demonstrated by Mike Brearley, and explained in this week's Times by Michael Atherton: "A good captain doesn't demand respect, he earns it."

When Yousuf came out to bat at number three in today's second innings, the heat was one. His country needed experience in the middle. Yousuf made the right decisions. First he appeared and then Misbah. That's how you earn respect and silence your critics. With that attitude Pakistan have a chance of turning this series on its head.

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