Younis unlikely to be considered for captaincy
Younis Khan is unlikely to captain Pakistan, not at least under the current administration. Younis declined the captaincy when it was offered to him after the World Cup, the second time he had walked away from the position in the last seven months.
Younis had been Pakistan's vice-captain for the two years leading into the Caribbean tournament and was widely expected to take over the lead role from Inzamam-ul-Haq. He was eventually convinced to lead Pakistan during the Champions Trophy last year by Nasim Ashraf, the board chairman, after having walked away from the post the previous day. He was the preferred choice of many, including Ashraf before Shoaib Malik was appointed.
While fully backing Malik's appointment, Ashraf expressed his disappointment at Younis's decision to scupper the board's succession plan. "To be honest, yes [I was disappointed]," he told Cricinfo.
"Younis had been groomed for this position and he also deserved an automatic place in the team, just like Shoaib Malik," he added. "Younis has got leadership quality and it was part of a succession plan that the board had put in place. When he did that after the World Cup, I think it was because of personally taking that performance to heart too much and he was mentally I think depressed about it." By suggesting that Malik could remain captain for the next three World Cups, Ashraf has seemingly closed the door on Younis returning as captain at least under his tenure.
Since the decision, Younis has been playing for Yorkshire, choosing to make himself unavailable for the Abu Dhabi series against Sri Lanka. His refusal to play in the three-match series and be unavailable till September for Pakistan, while turning out for a county side, irked the PCB officials.
But Ashraf asserted that though he will appear for Pakistan again, he will not lead them. "Obviously he won't be captain, that has been decided. But in terms of playing I hope that he makes himself available and that he continues to play for Pakistan."
Ashraf revealed that Younis had sought, and been granted, permission to be unavailable till September, but added, "I want to also make it clear that people have to make themselves available first for Pakistan and then for anything else."
Ashraf also cleared up the confusion surrounding Shoaib Akhtar's withdrawal from the Afro-Asia Cup. Shoaib had initially said he was keen and fit to play for the Asia squad, though he had also preferred to skip the Abu Dhabi series. He was subsequently dropped from the Asia side on fitness grounds and Ashraf confirmed that the Shoaib was not fully fit yet.
"If anybody is not fit to play for Pakistan they are not fit to play elsewhere. Shoaib Akhtar had told me he was not fit to play in Abu Dhabi. He told me that he would be fit by September and that is a great motive for him. We didn't want him to get injured in the Afro-Asia tournament. But our policy is very clear: if you are not fit to play for Pakistan you cannot play anywhere else."
Osman Samiuddin is Pakistan editor of Cricinfo