Batsman cites lack of batting practice

Yousuf backs out of first Test

Cricinfo staff

October 1, 2007

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Mohammad Yousuf's decision to back off is bound to trigger speculation © AFP
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Mohammad Yousuf surprisingly pulled out of the first Test against South Africa in Karachi at the very last minute, citing a lack of batting practice as the cause.

Yousuf has not picked up a bat since the ODI series between an Asia XI and Africa XI in June this year. He was dropped from Pakistan's Twenty20 squad, to much surprise, and has since been on Islamic preaching missions through Pakistan.

Yousuf told reporters at the end of day one, "I haven't practiced for the last two months and I told the selectors I will not be playing the first Test yesterday. "I have no injury, but I felt I was not match fit."

Asked why he had not told the selectors he needed more time in the middle before he was selected for the 15-man squad, Yousuf said, "The selectors did not ask me about my match fitness when they announced the squad.

"During nets yesterday I felt I needed some more time before I should play in the Tests. I'm sure by the time second Test begins I will regain my match fitness."

Inevitably, there was speculation over Yousuf's decision, and the Indian Cricket League (ICL) reared its head in discussions on the matter. Yousuf was one of four players from Pakistan to sign up for the league, before he revoked his decision after discussions with the Pakistan board and announced he would play for his country instead.

But Yousuf downplayed the rumours, insisting that the decision was taken purely on the basis of his match fitness. He also denied reports that he had received any communication from the ICL indicating their unhappiness on his decision to not honour his contract. Rumours had it that there might be legal ramifications had he played for Pakistan.

However, Gaurav Seth, ICL's marketing and communication head, also denied any communication. "We've not sent any legal notice. It's not yet clear whether he wants to be a part of the league or not and we're waiting for his response. We hope to hear from him over the course of the next few days. We will then decide on a course of action."

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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