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March 27, 2010
Mohammad Yousuf is preparing to retire from all forms of international cricket, a direct result it is believed, of the treatment and punishment the PCB handed out to him in the aftermath of Pakistan's recent Australian tour of which he was captain.
Yousuf was handed an indefinite ban as per the recommendations of an inquiry committee set up by the board to investigate why Pakistan lost every single one of the nine international matches in Australia over the turn of the year. Seven of those losses - three in Tests and four in ODIs - came under the leadership of Yousuf.
In their findings, the board blamed Yousuf for spreading infighting and indiscipline within the side and banned him for an indefinite period - along with Younis Khan - from all forms of the international game. He was subsequently not included in the central contracts list for this year.
Yousuf had taken over the captaincy last year when Younis stepped down following an ODI series loss to New Zealand in Abu Dhabi, at a time he says no one was willing to take the responsibility. Though he hasn't yet specified the reasons behind his decision, it is believed that the PCB's punishment and a lack of support from the board have made his mind up for him. Those close to him say that constant run-ins with the board have diminished his appetite to stay on.
"I have decided to quit cricket," Yousuf told the Urdu-language daily Jang. "This is not an emotional decision. I consulted my family, friends and elders before taking it."
In the past Yousuf has twice bid farewell to Pakistan cricket, after being upset over his treatment from Pakistan's selectors and management. In 2007, after being overlooked for Pakistan's World Twenty20 squad, he signed up with the ICL in protest. Though he was convinced to come back into the fold by the PCB - and paid handsomely to do so - he ultimately joined the league again in 2008. Both times he was barred from playing for Pakistan.
Underlining his decision each time was a strained relationship with the then captain Shoaib Malik. Yousuf publicly accused Malik of destroying his career and though he returned to the national team as Malik was deposed as captain, the pair have been involved in a public slanging match again after the Australian tour. Yousuf is scheduled to hold a press conference on Monday in Karachi to make the decision official and is expected to outline the reasons for his retirement.
If it is the final goodbye - and his current mood, say friends, indicates that he is serious - then Pakistan will lose the services of their most accomplished batsman of the decade alongside Inzamam-ul-Haq. He has over seven thousand Test runs from 88 Tests at 53.07, the highest average for any Pakistani batsman. He has 39 international hundreds, including 24 in Tests alone. Pakistan are due to play six Tests in England this summer, a prospect they must now consider - if Younis also misses out - without either of their most formidable middle-order batsmen.
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