Door open for Yousuf return
The door has been left open for Mohammad Yousuf to return to international cricket by a board that has already provided relief to five of his fellow players it penalised so heavily in the aftermath of a winless tour of Australia. Irfan Qadir, the independent arbitrator hearing the appeals, asked the board to reconsider the ban on Yousuf so that he is "treated at par with the other players in these appeals." In response, the PCB said it had sent messages out to Yousuf that he should return.
On Saturday, Qadir reduced and removed the punishments of Shahid Afridi, the Akmal brothers and Younis Khan. Afridi's fine was removed altogether, those of the Akmal brothers reduced and the indefinite ban on Younis lifted. Last week the one-year ban on Shoaib Malik had also been lifted and later this month a similar ban on Rana Naved-ul-Hasan is also likely to be removed.
That leaves only Yousuf, who like Younis, was banned indefinitely by the PCB and removed from the captaincy of the Test and ODI side. In protest, Yousuf announced his retirement from international cricket. Since then a number of attempts have been made by Afridi and others to lure him back, but the advances have been rebuffed each time.
"Yousuf has not appealed, he has retired," Ijaz Butt, the board chairman told Cricinfo. "We have sent messages to him through others that if he takes back his retirement he can play for Pakistan again. But he declined that."
Yousuf's intentions are not entirely clear. Though he has ruled out playing this summer in Pakistan's tour to England, he has indicated he may be involved in the series against South Africa in the Middle East later this year. It is thought he is undecided about playing under this administration again. On Pakistan's last tour to England, Yousuf scored nearly twice as many runs in four Tests - 631 - as the second-leading run-scorer, with three hundreds at an average of 90.14.
"If he takes back his retirement he will be welcomed back into the side," Butt said. "He is a great player and has a few more years in him. He has done so well for us and particularly on the last tour of England he was outstanding, so we would definitely be welcomed back."