Pakistan news July 19, 2010

'I can play under any captain' - Mohammad Yousuf

Cricinfo staff

Former Pakistan captain Mohammad Yousuf is ready to come out of retirement sooner rather than later, further broadening the possibility of an appearance at some point for Pakistan in the summer.

Yousuf, who announced his sudden retirement after a win-less tour of Australia, had said recently he was targeting the tour of UAE later this year to make a return, but the team's struggles in the first Test against Australia at Lord's may have prompted him to change his mind.

"I am available any time for my national team," Yousuf said in Karachi. "If the team doesn't need me I stand retired. But if I'm needed, I am ready and available to serve my country. If PCB invites me with respect I will definitely go and join the team."

Ijaz Ahmed, Pakistan's assistant coach, hinted at Yousuf's possible return. "He can replace Afridi but the management haven't decided yet who will come. It could come out in a couple of days. Maybe later, somebody will come but not at the moment.

Pakistan made scores of 148 and 289 with only one batsman, Salman Butt, managing to pass fifty. They lost 11 of their wickets to Shane Watson and the part-time spinner Marcus North.

Though their bowlers competed well, the batsmen fell short mainly due to the lack of experience in the middle order, which was missing the pedigree of Yousuf and Younis Khan for differing reasons.

In the immediate aftermath of the Lord's loss speculation centred on the PCB sending out an SOS to Yousuf, but Ijaz Butt denied that was the case. The matter of Yousuf and Younis's return was considered at a meeting the chairman held with team management to appoint a new captain, but was deferred until after the second Test against Australia, officials insisting they were happy with the performances of debutantes Azhar Ali and Umar Amin.

"These are the only two players we are talking about, Younus Khan and Yousuf," Ijaz Ahmed added. "Let's see, it might be decided about Yousuf. Yousuf might be coming here."

Salman, 25, was appointed captain after Shahid Afridi announced another unexpected retirement from Tests. Afridi was named captain for the entire tour of England but quit after the Lord's defeat saying he wasn't enjoying Test cricket after all.

"He was the vice-captain as well. I hope he can manage this," Ijaz Ahmed said of Salman's promotion. "We have done a lot of talking to him and he has played really well and is shaping up well. I think he is getting mature and now he has got the responsibility as well. I think he will come good for that."

Yousuf has had problems in the past with Shoaib Malik when he was captain but said he was willing to play under Salman. "It's a PCB decision (appointing Salman) and everybody should respect it," Yousuf said. "I can play under any captain and have never felt degraded playing under anyone."

Yousuf added that he was in touch with the PCB chairman, who was kept aware of his plans to return.

Yousuf was the captain during Pakistan's shambolic tour of Australia, where the team came under fire for their performances. The PCB responded by penalising seven players it believed were responsible for the defeats, Yousuf among them. He and Younis were banned indefinitely, and as a mark of protest, Yousuf announced he was quitting the game "for now."

He was the only one among the seven punished players not to appeal against the sanctions, despite the PCB leaving the door open for him to return. However, since Yousuf didn't respond to those messages from the board the national selectors could not consider him for the tour of England.