Younis offers to quit as captain
Pakistan captain Younis Khan has offered to resign his post following days of increasing rumour and speculation surrounding Pakistan's exit from the Champions Trophy in South Africa. The board has yet to take a decision on the offer, which was made during a meeting of a National Assembly committee called to discuss the issue.
Pakistan's semi-final loss to New Zealand, and Younis's crucial dropped catch off Grant Elliot, were the subject of an Indian newspaper report that hinted at more to the loss than what met the eye. The ICC immediately cracked down on the report and though it was retracted the next day, it snowballed in Pakistan in the following days, culminating in today's meeting of the National Assembly's standing committee on sports in Islamabad.
The meeting was called for by the head of the committee, Jamshed Dasti, who claimed that Pakistan's loss was the result of match-fixing, before he took back the allegations. At the meeting, Younis, already prepared with a letter of resignation, publicly made the offer to stand down, incensed at increasing media reports casting doubt on his and the team's integrity. The PCB turned it down at the meeting - and the committee told them to tackle the matter privately - but after the meeting Younis again, briefly, discussed the topic with Ijaz Butt, chairman PCB, and also in attendance.
But the PCB refused to confirm whether they had accepted the resignation, or clarify what the current situation was. "Younis did offer to resign during the National Assembly meeting," Ijaz Butt, chairman PCB, told Cricinfo. "The matchfixing allegations and Pakistan's loss was being discussed and this was stated by Younis. It was said in a public forum so we have to think this over and I have to discuss it with him separately. I have to discuss it further and will not comment any further now."
It is believed that in his resignation letter, Younis has also said he does not want to take part in the upcoming series against New Zealand or the tour to Australia towards the end of the year.
The development was criticised by former players, who blamed it on political interference and called it a blow to the sport in the country.
"Politicians have no need to interfere in cricket and they have not only snatched our captain but have damaged the game badly," Ramiz Raja said. "Our honourable captain was insulted by the investigation and we acted on baseless allegations."
Another former captain, Rashid Latif, blamed the media and the PCB. "I think the media was irresponsible by relaying an inauthentic statement by someone and Younus, being an honourable man, resigned over that. I don't see him taking his decision back," he said.
Younis, of course, has a history with captaincy. He once stepped down from his role as stand-in skipper, days before the 2006 Champions Trophy, because he was unhappy with the board administration over a number of seemingly trivial issues. Once the administration changed, however, he took up the role again. A few months later, after the 2007 World Cup and Inzamam-ul-Haq's resignation, he turned down the captaincy claiming later that the environment and circumstances at the time were not right for him to take it up. He only took over as full-time captain in February this year, after Shoaib Malik was pushed aside.
Osman Samiuddin is Pakistan editor of Cricinfo