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February 10, 2010
Mohammad Yousuf, Pakistan's Test and ODI captain for the New Zealand and Australia tours, has targeted one player in the aftermath of the disastrous tour for being a particularly disruptive influence. Though he gave broad hints during a lengthy TV interview, he stopped short of revealing the name of the player.
"There is no doubt there is only one player in the team who is disturbing team unity and other players. I spoke to coach Intikhab Alam and other management about it and they agreed with me," Yousuf told Geo Super. "I will only disclose his name to the chairman of the board, Ijaz Butt."
"Intikhab Alam (coach), Abdur Raqeeb (manager) and [Shahid] Afridi know who the player is and we discussed it as well several times," Yousuf added. "From New Zealand onwards Intikhab was telling me to be wary of him, but I wanted to see for myself. I saw in Australia how his body language was and we dropped him from the Tests. We decided in Australia during a meeting that we had to do something about him."
Pakistan lost the Test series 3-0 in Australia, were whitewashed 5-0 in the ODIs for only the second time in history, and lost the final game of the tour as well - a Twenty20 international at the MCG.
Though Yousuf was widely appreciated as a leader of the group off the field, his on-field captaincy came in for much criticism, in particular from the last day of the Sydney Test onwards. His cause wasn't helped by a statement from the board chairman midway through the tour - denied eventually - that the captaincy would change hands once the tour ended.
Yousuf said the statement had an effect on the side. "I don't know when the statement was made, but when it was, suddenly everyone in the team changed. Six or seven players started to see themselves as captains all of a sudden. At the start of the tour in New Zealand, the players were cooperating with me, but as the tour went on I felt they weren't because they knew I wouldn't be captain in the next series."
Yousuf defended his leadership, arguing that nobody wanted the job when the toughest challenges presented themselves. "I don't have natural leadership qualities in me but I have tried hard to do a good job of the responsibility given to me," he said. "It is unfair to compare me with Ricky Ponting as far as captaincy is concerned because he is far more experienced. I accepted the captaincy in the best interest of my country.
"If you look around the world every country's top performing player is the captain. If in Pakistan a youngster becomes the top performing player in the side by all means make him captain. I did it at a difficult time when nobody was prepared to do it."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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