England v Pakistan, 3rd npower Test, The Oval

Butt's duty to bond with Yousuf

Salman Butt has shown an impressive maturity right from the moment that Shahid Afridi's abdication thrust the captaincy upon him

Nagraj Gollapudi at The Oval

August 17, 2010

Comments: 23 | Text size: A | A

Mohammad Yousuf heads to practice on the eve of his Test return, The Oval, August 17, 2010
Mohammad Yousuf is back in the Pakistan team, but how will he gel with his young captain? © AFP
Enlarge
Related Links
Players/Officials: Mohammad Yousuf | Salman Butt
Series/Tournaments: Pakistan tour of England
Teams: England | Pakistan

Salman Butt has shown an impressive maturity right from the moment that Shahid Afridi's abdication thrust the captaincy upon him. When Pakistan defeated Australia in his first match in charge, to bring to an end a run of 15 winless years, Butt was quick to recognise that England, in their home conditions, would be tougher opponents.

Sure enough, after consecutive defeats, he stoically admitted that Pakistan had been terrible with their catching and that they had no place to hide. He also conceded that he and his batsmen were not showing enough patience to survive at the crease, and that as a consequence they were heaping too much pressure on the Mohammads - Asif and Amir - who are arguably the best fast-bowling pair in Test cricket.

But perhaps most importantly, Butt recognised - albeit grudgingly - that he had to accept the arrival of his former captain, Mohammad Yousuf, a man who earlier in the year had openly ridiculed him during the Australian tour for his slackness in the field. Yousuf going public then did not sit well with Butt. When one of the lurking local media recited Yousuf's lines to Butt, he shot back: "did I ask you [to read them out]?" There was no further reaction. He kept his thoughts to himself. It was a wise move.

It is once again time for Butt to be wise. As a leader he believes Pakistan need to be brave and have belief in the young, which is not entirely a bad idea in itself but even a kid doesn't start walking on its own - without a helping hand it would never stop falling down. At the age of 35, Yousuf is clearly well suited to carry out the fatherly duties.

But Pakistan not only need an anchor who can withstand the current pressure but somebody who can simultaneously drive them forward. As a mentor. Yousuf's flowing beard has many grey hairs, some as a result of his hard contemplation of the right move. He has hardly faltered in England: in terms of pure numbers, he is virtually on Salim Malik's back and crucially has played seven fewer Tests compared to Malik's 13; both men have three centuries but Yousuf has a double to his credit. Butt, who has played the same number of Tests in England as Yousuf, has amassed just 275 runs. Imran Farhat has 377 in seven Tests at 29. Yes, numbers can't tell the whole story. Yet, they cannot be ignored.

And in terms of the immediate challenge, Yousuf knows not only how but when to leave the ball in swinging conditions. There was evidence of that during his 40 against Worcestershire at New Road last weekend where he ignored 16 successive deliveries before steadily dominating the bowlers. Even if he could spend just 53 minutes at the crease as rains disrupted the two-day warm-up fixture, Yousuf was busy having lengthy chats with youngsters such as Umar Amin in the middle first, and then the dressing room balcony.

Even at The Oval, on Monday, Yousuf was animated in pointing out the ways and means of prospering in overcast conditions to the team-mates. He did not waste words. "He simply said one has to be calm and the formula is as simple as leaving the ball alone most of the times," Imran Farhat told Cricinfo.

Personally for Yousuf it is a bigger challenge. After his bitter separation from his team-mates in the aftermath of the winless Australian tour, which later led him to announce his retirement following a PCB-imposed ban, Yousuf has once again decided to come back. If he is to be believed he has no agenda. His only aim is to help his country.

Butt will have to take that statement at face value. He cannot afford to waste time brooding over Yousuf's motive. He also cannot afford to be insecure. So far he has shown the attributes that make a good leader: clarity of speech, original opinions, modesty, fearlessness, an ability and willingness to back his teammates regardless of form, and an openness to suggestions. Yousuf lacked many of those qualities, even if he remains of the best batsmen of his generation.

After his initial hard stance Butt has probably now accepted the fact that Yousuf can be useful. "With his runs he can walk in to any team," he told Cricinfo as soon as he was appointed captain. Now he says the team's youngsters should seek out Yousuf to learn. It is not a bad start, but the next challenge is for the two men to walk hand in hand.

Nagraj Gollapudi is an assistant editor at Cricinfo

RSS Feeds: Nagraj Gollapudi

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by Mali2000 on (August 18, 2010, 14:53 GMT)

An Excellent Column. I am extremely impressed. Probably one of the best article I read on Cricinfo.

Posted by ABRAR-JANJUA on (August 18, 2010, 13:34 GMT)

Correction Please @Majr Yousuf is not "Yohana" any more,Be careful man.When you are playing at International level then you must forget internal difference.Yousuf can be handy for youngsters in these conditions and he can guide them well.Butt should also forget bitter moments of the past for the sack of Pakistan cricket.

Posted by Kazzamers on (August 18, 2010, 8:56 GMT)

Well done Nagraj proud of u , u r a good wordsmith. I think yusuf should go 1 down and be fulcrum like dravid

Posted by ashankar on (August 18, 2010, 8:21 GMT)

It is true that Md.Amir is sort of an Akram in the making. But i guess he has long way to go and he should really try hard in the sub continent where pacers really would not get any assistance. There was absolutely no use in playing at dambulla in Asia cup which is perhaps only sub continent wkt to support seamers. we will look upto him in the WC. But have to admit tat it is really unfortunate for the lad to miss the sub continent exposure due to political issues.

Posted by PakiGr8ness on (August 18, 2010, 7:26 GMT)

Amir is better thaqn morne morkal asif is definitely better than morkel just lagging some points behind steyn on the rankings steyn is first and asif is second tho amir hasnt played many matches but his records suggest more- it was a good desicion taking yousuf into the team and dropping malik and putting in hameed is also good but i despise stuart broad for making kamran akmal play

Posted by   on (August 18, 2010, 7:09 GMT)

A very well-written column!

Posted by waqas9783 on (August 18, 2010, 5:08 GMT)

I hope Butt reacts like a smart guy and use the better resources at his disposal in a best way possible.

Posted by Percy_Fender on (August 18, 2010, 4:53 GMT)

It is a pity that Yousuf Yohana has to come in to the team in this manner. He is an alltime Pakistani great and it is sad that this fact does not find acceptance with the opinion makers in Pakistan. In fact Yousuf is one of the greatest batsmen of his generation. Because he has been a low profile player, he is not seen as anything but an ordinary middle order batsman from Pakistan. I am sure he will do well against England.

Posted by Ashar.Hameed on (August 18, 2010, 4:25 GMT)

It is a disgrace that we continue to select players who have repeatedly failed year after year. Butt and Malik are 2 prime examples currently in the squad and to make such a failure a captain is just pathetic. I guess as Pakistani's we are best at selecting the worst possible candidates for any job be it in sports or any other Govt. department!

Posted by Ashar.Hameed on (August 18, 2010, 4:13 GMT)

It is a disgrace that we continue to select players who have repeatedly failed year after year. Butt and Malik are 2 prime examples currently in the squad and to make such a failure a captain is just pathetic. I guess as Pakistani's we are best at selecting the worst possible candidates for any job be it in sports or any other Govt. department!

Comments have now been closed for this article

TopTop
Email Feedback Print
Share
E-mail
Feedback
Print
Nagraj GollapudiClose
Tour Results
England v Pakistan at Southampton - Sep 22, 2010
England won by 121 runs
England v Pakistan at Lord's - Sep 20, 2010
Pakistan won by 38 runs
England v Pakistan at The Oval - Sep 17, 2010
Pakistan won by 23 runs
England v Pakistan at Leeds - Sep 12, 2010
England won by 4 wickets (with 3 balls remaining)
England v Pakistan at Chester-le-Street - Sep 10, 2010
England won by 24 runs
More results »
News | Features Last 3 days
News | Features Last 3 days