Mohammad Yousuf added to Test squad
Mohammad Yousuf has been called into Pakistan's squad for the remainder of the England tour, as the PCB reacted swiftly to Pakistan's 354-run defeat at Trent Bridge. Danish Kaneria has also been axed from the group following his disappointing bowling display, with the left-arm spinner Raza Hasan called up.
The addition of Yousuf, who in March announced his retirement from international cricket, came just hours after England completed their big win in Nottingham. Earlier this year, Yousuf was handed an indefinite ban by the PCB after he captained Pakistan on their disastrous tour of Australia, during which the side fell apart under his control.
"We got a request from the tour management for Mohammad Yousuf and I then discussed with our selectors and we have okayed it," Mohsin Khan, the chief selector, told Cricinfo. "As far as I am aware Yousuf has been training and is fit. He has played in local club tournaments as well."
As a batsman, Yousuf has the potential to strengthen Pakistan's line-up immeasurably for the remaining three Tests, although he has not played any form of elite cricket since March. A team source told Cricinfo that Yousuf would definitely play in the second Test at Edgbaston starting on Friday, provided he arrived in time, and if he had the correct visa, which was as yet unclear.
"A man with his experience and his runs cannot sit out," the team source said. However, Cricinfo has learnt that the captain, Salman Butt, and the coach, Waqar Younis, were not consulted on Yousuf's inclusion and they were only informed about the reinforcements after the Trent Bridge defeat.
There was no similar call-up for the former captain Younis Khan, who has been playing county cricket with Surrey. But while Pakistan have gained an experienced player in Yousuf, they have also lost one of their veterans after the PCB said in a statement that Kaneria would be released to play county cricket for Essex.
The board said Kaneria would remain available to the Test squad if required, but for now Hasan, 18, would join the squad as his replacement. Hasan has played only two first-class matches and will almost certainly be second in line behind Saeed Ajmal for the Birmingham Test.
Kaneria struggled to have any impact at Trent Bridge, where he finished with match figures of 1 for 171, and he was also well below his best in the two Tests against Australia. The captain, Butt, told Cricinfo that the team hoped Kaneria would regain his spark if he was given a chance at county level.
"He [Kaneria] is our most experienced guy," Butt said. "We need to give him time to get back into form and to get his confidence back in a competitive game rather than sitting in the dressing room and getting frustrated. One way is to allow him to play on the county circuit which will give him a chance and be in the middle and dominate and get his rhythm going."
Butt said he and Waqar spoke to Kaneria for ten minutes after reaching the team hotel in the hours after Pakistan's loss. "He was obviously disappointed," Butt said. "But the best thing he said was he would come back strongly. That was what I wanted to hear."
Butt said the matter to release Kaneria, who has 261 Test wickets, was discussed between he and the coaches and the team management. Kaneria declined to comment.
England's coach, Andy Flower, would not be drawn on the merits of the call-ups. "We are not overly concerned with the decisions they make," he said. "We don't waste energy on analysing their decisions, we will play as well as we can whoever they put out."
Nagraj Gollapudi is an assistant editor at Cricinfo