Mohammad Yousuf retires

One of Pakistan's finest middle-order batsmen

A look at the numbers behind Mohammad Yousuf's fine career for Pakistan

S Rajesh

March 29, 2010

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Mohammad Yousuf will be remembered for his unhurried elegance and grace at the crease as much as for the runs he scored, but over his 12-year career he built up pretty imposing numbers as well. With a Test tally of 7431 runs, he is third in the all-time list for Pakistan, next only to Javed Miandad and Inzamam-ul-Haq. In ODIs he is in second place with 9458 runs, behind Inzamam.

Yousuf scored only six runs in two innings in his debut Test, and in his first year, his four fifties and maiden century all came against Zimbabwe. Over the first three years of his international career he had his moments, but lack of consistency meant his average just about touched 40 after his first 27 Tests.

The graph started going up in 2001, when a maiden double-century against New Zealand in Christchurch was followed by a century and another double against Bangladesh early the next year. Over the next six years beginning 2001, he had a golden run in which he scored 18 centuries in 46 Tests, including nine during an unbelievable 2006, a year in which he scored 1788 runs in 11 Tests, which remains the most by a batsman in a single calendar year.

That peak was followed by an almost inevitable trough, as over the next three years his average dipped to less than 40, with only one century in 15 matches.

Mohammad Yousuf's Test career
Period Tests Runs Average 100s/ 50s
Till Dec 2000 27 1736 40.37 5/ 11
Jan 2001 to Dec 2006 46 4666 66.65 18/ 15
Since Jan 2007 15 1029 38.11 1/ 6
Career 88 7431 53.07 24/ 32

Overall, though, Yousuf has every reason to be proud of a glittering career. His performances at Nos. 4 and 5 rank him among the best batsmen ever at those positions. Among those who scored at least 4000 runs at those two positions, Yousuf's average of 55.83 is bettered only by four batsmen - Greg Chappell, Jacques Kallis and Sachin Tendulkar. In fact, it's a touch higher than Inzamam and Miandad.

Best middle-order batsmen in Tests (Qual: 4000 runs at Nos. 4 and 5)
Batsman Tests Runs Average 100s/ 50s
Greg Chappell 61 4926 60.07 16/ 24
Jacques Kallis 87 7352 59.77 25/ 35
Sachin Tendulkar 152 12,570 57.13 45/ 50
Mohammad Yousuf 86 7091 55.83 24/ 31
Steve Waugh 110 6950 55.15 24/ 30
Mahela Jayawardene 100 8184 54.92 25/ 30
Denis Compton 67 5202 54.18 16/ 23
Javed Miandad 118 8393 54.14 22/ 41
Inzamam-ul-Haq 96 7011 52.32 21/ 35
Allan Border 105 6854 51.14 17/ 36

During that golden phase from 2001 to 2006, Yousuf was the most prolific Test batsman going around, averaging more than 66. Ricky Ponting, Kallis and Rahul Dravid were the others with 60-plus averages during this period, but none of them could quite match Yousuf.

Best Test batsman between 2001 and 2006 (Qual: 3000 runs)
Batsman Tests Runs Average 100s/ 50s
Mohammad Yousuf 46 4666 66.65 18/ 15
Ricky Ponting 71 6913 65.83 26/ 25
Jacques Kallis 60 5443 64.03 17/ 27
Rahul Dravid 66 5776 60.16 15/ 29
Brian Lara 57 5883 58.24 19/ 18
Matthew Hayden 76 7155 57.24 26/ 25
Inzamam-ul-Haq 46 3808 56.83 13/ 16
Kumar Sangakkara 60 4890 52.58 12/ 21

Despite scoring a bucketful of runs, though, there'll always be one question-mark against Yousuf, for his inability to turn on the tap against the two best bowling sides of his time - Australia and South Africa. In fact, that's a criticism that can also be levelled against the two other Pakistan middle-order giants of his generation, Inzamam and, to a lesser extent, Younis Khan. Younis averaged a respectable 38.08 against them, but Inzamam only averaged 33, and Yousuf less than 30. Yousuf only scored one century against those two sides in 18 Tests, though that was one of his best - when leading the team against Australia in the Boxing Day Test in 2004, Yousuf scored a dazzling 111, though Pakistan eventually lost the match. Yousuf's highest in 13 innings against South Africa was 83.

On the other hand, Yousuf was prolific against Bangladesh, Zimbabwe and West Indies: in 19 Tests against them he scored 11 centuries, and averaged more than 101. There's a similar discrepancy between his home and away numbers too - his home average of 65.25 was 20 runs more than his away average.

Pakistan's big three in Tests against Australia and South Africa
Batsman Tests Runs Average 100s/ 50s
Younis Khan 13 952 38.08 2/ 5
Inzamam-ul-Haq 26 1494 33.20 1/ 12
Mohammad Yousuf 18 979 29.66 1/ 6

Yousuf's ODI career didn't have as many sharp peaks, but he was consistent, averaging more than 35 each year from 2001 to 2008. The third and fourth positions were his favourites, as it gave him time to settle in and then work the ball and accumulate the runs. Among batsmen who scored at least 3000 runs at these two positions, Yousuf's average of 47.87 is next only to Viv Richards' 52.17. Yousuf also had 56 fifty-plus knocks in 162 games, an average of one such knock every three matches.

Best ODI batsmen at Nos. 3 and 4 (Qual: 3000 runs)
Batsman ODIs Runs Average Strike rate 100s/ 50s
Viv Richards 140 5791 52.17 91.19 10/ 41
Mohammad Yousuf 162 6367 47.87 75.39 12/ 44
Jacques Kallis 256 9532 46.95 72.81 15/ 67
Javed Miandad 181 6409 44.81 66.69 8/ 48
Dean Jones 142 5541 44.32 72.38 7/ 43
Ricky Ponting 327 12,625 43.53 80.87 29/ 76

However, as in Tests, there'll be questions about his ability to be at his best in the big games. He averaged 31.41 in Australia, 32.16 in World Cup matches, and 28.66 in the finals of tournaments. He didn't have a single World Cup century, and only one in 19 finals.

Those stats slightly diminish what was otherwise an outstanding 12-year international career. Given the problems that Pakistan have been facing with their batting line-up, Yousuf's absence is a hole that will be very tough to fill.

S Rajesh is stats editor of Cricinfo

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S Rajesh Stats editor Every week the Numbers Game takes a look at the story behind the stats, with an original slant on facts and figures. The column is edited by S Rajesh, ESPNcricinfo's stats editor in Bangalore. He did an MBA in marketing, and then worked for a year in advertising, before deciding to chuck it in favour of a job which would combine the pleasures of watching cricket and writing about it. The intense office cricket matches were an added bonus.
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