Pakistan news May 14, 2017

'Had I been captain maybe I wouldn't have scored all these runs'

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Under Misbah-ul-Haq's captaincy, Younis Khan scored nearly 5000 runs and more than doubled his century count © Getty Images

It remains one of the most enduring what-ifs of Younis Khan's career: what if, in November 2009, he had not upped and left the captaincy? Where would he, and Pakistan cricket, be now had he continued?

Pakistan cricket is no longer as obsessed with that one, in light of the successes of the eventual beneficiary of that decision, Misbah-ul-Haq. But the question has hounded Younis' career since, up to and including this, his last series.

And now, as he steps away from international cricket as Pakistan's most prolific Test batsman, it seems he has found closure. "People say to me, you should've done more captaincy," he told ESPNcricinfo.

"But I think whatever happens, happens for the best. Had I been captain maybe I wouldn't have scored all these runs. People think that maybe I carry these regrets, but no. Had I done more, who knows whether I would be where I am today? If I had been captain for so long, maybe I would've been too distracted by other duties to score as many runs as I did."

Despite leading Pakistan to the World Twenty20 title in 2009, Younis' experience with the captaincy has been difficult. He turned it down first in 2007, having been groomed for it. In late 2006, as an interim captain, he had given it up in anger, only to accept it back a day later. When he resigned in 2009, it was under the weight of, effectively, a player revolt. And yet, over the last couple of years, he has spoken of another tilt at the captaincy, talk that has been encouraged by people around him.

Certainly it is difficult to imagine him having done better as a batsman. Though his last series was a poor one, under Misbah's captaincy, Younis scored nearly 5000 runs and more than doubled his century count: 18 in 53 Tests (16 in 65 before). It is a run that has established him as, arguably, Pakistan's greatest Test batsman and one of the finest from anywhere in the modern age.

"All the cricket I've played - for club, department, association, county, in Australia, wherever - when I'm gone if you ask any of them, they won't be able to say that Younis Khan left something in the tank. I gave 200% everywhere I played.

"Two-three years ago, I was about to retire but I got the motivation to try and get to 10,000 runs. As a captain, player, junior, senior, I put it all out there, whatever I had. Whatever I could, with bat, ball, in the field. No regrets either. We won a world title, we beat Australia, leveled a series in England. We performed, I performed so there's nothing left that I really wanted to do."

So much does he feel he has given to the game that, unlike Misbah, he does not foresee a post-retirement attachment within the game. When he became captain in 2009, he had spoken keenly of helping set up a players' association, something Pakistan's cricketers have never known. That is not, for now, on the agenda.

"Believe me - I think, in all, I've given 27-28 years of my life to cricket. So I have nothing in my mind about any future plans to get back into cricket. I don't know if I'll have any energy left after I leave to give to cricket.

"A players' association should happen for sure, but I don't think I have the energy to be able to do something like this. We should do this, and if others start it up, then I will stand by them for sure."

One thing he will be doing plenty of is fishing, a pastime in which he often sought refuge during his career. "A lot of the dreams I had which I couldn't get to while I was playing, I will now pursue. People think you achieve all of them in your career but actually this is a new career starting for me now."

Osman Samiuddin is a senior editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • OvaisXI on May 17, 2017, 8:14 GMT

    Salute to one of the greatest test cricketer ever, the only batsman to have scored a century in every country he played

  • bjcm12 on May 16, 2017, 23:59 GMT

    we would have seen Laras, Tendulkars and Pontings but this man is a legend where he has no security to play in his country. Great cricketing brain never broke under severe pressure.

  • woody3 on May 16, 2017, 20:13 GMT

    Larwood and Voce were quick, look at the film. Batsman had no helmets and ropy gloves. Bowlers could bowl 6 bouncers an over with no field restrictions. Yeah batting was a doddle for Bradman.

  • Cricinfouser on May 16, 2017, 15:25 GMT

    Thank you Misbah and Younis. Your services will be forever remembered.

  • nuraiz on May 16, 2017, 11:32 GMT

    Love and respect fm BD to these two greats of the game Fm pakistan. They had given all they had and what ever they could to their innate capacity and capabilities. If new talent is not coming Fm pak then it is not their fault. Misbah is not leading the ODIs and u can clearly see the limitations of pakistani players in that format. If misbah,s defensive culture is inculcated into pak then why sarfraz play so swiftly? All players are independent in the way they play. Infact he has given some sanity to the absurd AFRIDI culture that really destroyed and limited pakistan cricket to personal heroics!

  • Balochistan Tiger on May 16, 2017, 11:01 GMT

    Thanks to Younis for finally calling it a day. He is agood batsman and played well in most of the matches. But he couldn't help us win Ind in WCs.

  • cricfan1828755433 on May 16, 2017, 10:54 GMT

    Our legend really 1000 times salute u such a cricket hero we feel so proud we have legends love you and miss u u my favoute player ever am fan of u MissYou

  • Nez on May 16, 2017, 9:06 GMT

    True legend , i have been his fan from hos debut , truely honest and loyal player for country , personaly i feel he could have played 2 more years but its his desicion , great wishes for future !

  • byebyebaseball on May 16, 2017, 8:36 GMT

    You may not regret your retirement, but I [a NZ cricket fan] do! I'm old enough to always feel sadness and nostalgia as the truly great ones leave the international arena. Best wishes to all Pakistan cricket fans, and sincerely hoping you next generation of players excels and that your wonderful team will soon be able to play again in your home nation! And Younis -- Best wishes to one of the truly great as you retire!