July 20, 2010

Saad Shafqat

Why are Yousuf and Younis missing?

Saad Shafqat
Mohammad Yousuf and Younis Khan walk off the field after the match ended in a draw, India v Pakistan, 2nd Test, Kolkata, 5th day, December 4, 2007
"It increasingly appears that, more than anything, Mohammad Yousuf and Younis Khan are paying the price for having run afoul of the PCB bosses"  © AFP
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Only in Pakistan could you have the country’s two best batsmen sitting at home while the national side takes a beating. It’s really baffling when you consider that only four Pakistanis have ever attained a Test batting average over 50, and Mohammad Yousuf and Younis Khan happen to be two of them (the other two being Inzamam ul Haq and Javed Miandad). When Pakistan last toured England, Yousuf emerged as one of Wisden’s Five Cricketers of the Year, and Younis made 173 (run out) at Leeds. Batting together on the Headingley pitch, they compiled 363 for the third wicket.

Bewildered fans are now asking: what are these two doing sitting at home? Most perplexing is the absence of any coherent explanation for their exclusion. They have been cast as troublemakers, tarred and feathered, fined and sentenced – but for what? No one is quite sure.

Yousuf’s troubles started when he grumbled about his omission from Pakistan’s World Twenty20-bound squad in 2007. Soon afterwards, he joined the ill-fated Indian Cricket League and found himself tied up in legal and financial knots. Back in the Test squad last summer, he went on to captain Pakistan in New Zealand and Australia, but that didn’t turn out so well. There was an inquisition, and he was made out to be a criminal.

Younis’s trajectory has been even more Shakespearean. He appeared set to scale great heights after making a triple-hundred in Karachi and then pulling off a miracle by leading Pakistan to the World Twenty20 championship in June 2009, mere weeks after the terrorism in Lahore. But the tour to Sri Lanka that followed was a disaster and he was removed from the team. Younis was ensnared by an inquisition too. There was a lot of tut-tutting, and he too was made out to be a criminal.

How could we have come to this impasse? There is good reason to believe that much of it has to do with an inept, moody, and vindictive PCB administration. The charges against Yousuf and Younis haven’t matured beyond innuendo, and it increasingly appears that, more than anything, they are paying the price for having run afoul of the PCB bosses. It could have been something as trifling as a heated exchange of words, a glare and stare, a sneer and a jeer – and here we are.

In all the political infighting, interpersonal friction, media frenzy, and gossip mongering, it is easy to lose sight of what Mohammad Yousuf and Younis Khan truly represent. The bare fact is that they are batting legends. Yousuf is nothing less than a torchbearer for Asia’s wristy batting esthetic that drives fans into rapture. Younis is a tenacious fighter who has repeatedly played his heart out for his country. Neither is over the hill: Yousuf is not yet 36 and Younis not yet 33.

As things now stand, there are two schools of thought on their recall. One view is that these players were responsible for politics and disarray within the team, and we should forget about them and look ahead; this will undoubtedly mean continued batting embarrassments out in the middle, but will be good for the team in the long run. The competing view is that one must do whatever is necessary to strengthen the spine of the middle order. If that means recalling Yousuf and Younis, then let us not delay.

The PCB’s visible stance on this issue remains tentative. Meanwhile, the public mood is split and you can find opinions on both sides of the divide. The fan base ultimately just wants runs, and won’t quibble over who makes them and how. All it takes to change the prevailing sentiment is one influential innings. If either Younis or Yousuf is given the opportunity and makes a hundred, all will be forgotten. Perhaps that is what the PCB is afraid of.

Saad Shafqat is a writer based in Karachi

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Posted by Waseem on (July 20, 2010, 17:13 GMT)

Posted by: ats at July 20, 2010 9:16 AM

just for your knowledge Mr shafqat, inzamam's average is 49.60 and not over 50.

Sir g he is just 10 runs short of 50 n his avg after 2000 is mnore than 55

Posted by M. Khalil on (July 20, 2010, 17:09 GMT)

If we see the attitude of PCB Bosses it seems that first they want no one should point out their mistakes and make public what politics they play in selecting their hand pick players "purchees" and a Panjabi block has hijacked whole PCB. a Non Panjabi player like Younus Khan is untouchable now, while Shoaib Malik being Panjabi and a biggest Purchi can do what ever. Mohammad Yousuf on the other hand is from Panjab, but he made bosses unhappy yet you can hear he can come back.

WE SIMPLE FOLLOWERS OF CRICKET WANT POLITICS AND RACISM MUST NOT HIJACK CRICKET AFFAIRS. Yousuf and Younus must be taken back and the reason of all ills Mr. Shoib Malik should be thrown out of team. We should never make captain such people like Cheaters and those who always play for themselves (like Shahid and Salman Butt.... )

Posted by Abid Mashwani on (July 20, 2010, 17:08 GMT)

We all know Pakistan cricket is about:

PCB Chairman (E. Butt) - Brother in law of Minister of Defence

Imran Farhat - Son in Law of selection committee member (M Ilyas)

S. Malik - political connections, was invited by PM while under PCB ban for ill doing, conspiring against country team.

Team manager - PCB chairman friend

Z. Haider - Nephew of selection committee member Azhar Khan

Players out of favor: either have no political connection or unluckily not from PUNJAB such as Fawad Alam, M. Sami, Asim Kamal, Yasir Hameed (for most part of his career), Sarfaraz, Younis Khan, M Yousaf (though from Punjab but poor family background).

So we are on path of PUNJAB eleven instead of Pakistan eleven.

Posted by Syed Sibtain Ali Raza on (July 20, 2010, 17:04 GMT)

What I say about these two players ?? No one need to listen me, Mr. Saad Shafqat writer of this article wrote down quite same as i might have shared here. Very good article. Hope PCB may read it fromt his great website but let me assure you nothing will pursue them to do things good. Money is every thing for them. Money Corruption Nepotism and that's all yet I'm optimistic about this top player Mohammad Yousuf because they will be forced one day when middle order will fail continuously.

Posted by Abid Mashwani on (July 20, 2010, 17:00 GMT)

This is a very good write, unfortunately we are fueling sports with politics and ethnicity. Writer did a great job in highlighting the importance of these two Y's and ineptness of the PCB administration, but failed to specifically name Mr. Butt the Baffoon and Mr. Yawar Saeed. Additionally, I will add actual villain of all this drama Mr. Shoaib Malik. I would not be surprise that it was Malik exclusion from playing elevens in Lords that led to below par performance from Akmal brothers (for their friendship) and thus frustrated Afridi to resign after playing rash shots.

To me the real and quick solution for Pakistan cricket is to get rid of Malik ASAP (though I like him as a player but no more as a part of Pakistan team). Although it is a hard ask for removing E. Butt since PCB patron would love to have more corrupt and incompetent person then himself under him, and unless Pakistan government changes, the Buffoon will stay as PCB chairman.

Posted by osmirza on (July 20, 2010, 16:53 GMT)

@Anonymous: But who says that Dravid and Kallis aren't legends? Did the writer imply anything to the contrary? Can't there be more legends at one time? And besides, the fact that Yousuf & Younus are legends of Pakistani cricket can't be taken away from them, whether someone likes it or not.

Posted by Murtaza Moiz on (July 20, 2010, 16:52 GMT)

If some people don't like Younus or MoYo return for tests, they should not expect to win than from current Pakistani test outfit which is already too fragile

Posted by Stromeon on (July 20, 2010, 16:45 GMT)

The PCB seriously needs to get some sense into its totally muddled brain. Younis and Yousuf are by far the best batsmen in Pakistan at the moment. Yousuf has scored the most runs in a calendar year not so long ago and Younis made a triple-hundred only last year. With the honourable exception of Salman Butt, none of the current Pakistan batsmen look like getting anywhere near 100 let alone 300. Younis would be the best captaincy material now that Afridi - who lets face it isnt a Test player - has resigned; he lead Pakistan to a memorable T20 triumph in England. They made cause a few divided opinions in the dressing room, but they produce results on the field. Younis and Yousuf would give Pakistan much needed stability in the middle order, they are great players. Good luck to them in trying to get back into the team.

Posted by Anonymous on (July 20, 2010, 16:42 GMT)

I don't agree with his article and all the hoola hoo about not including Younis and Yousuf in the national team. Both these players have been pretty useless in all format of the game from last couple of years. There performance on the tour on New Zealand and Australia were below average. Yes Pakistan were thrashed at lords but so what? We have been getting trashed by australia in Test matches for last 15 years even in the presence of Yousuf and Younis. So there absense do not make any difference. Its better to let these guys go and bring some fresh blood in, at least they will hold on to the catches that come their way and put in an effort in the field. Yousuf and younis had their time, now its time for some youngster to come and make name for themselves. An article is written everyday about having younis and yousuf but no journalist take into the account their recent performances.

Posted by ahmad ullah on (July 20, 2010, 16:33 GMT)

pakistan cricket board is the worst board of all. they dont want to respect senior player who carry them for country

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