Pakistan news April 26, 2012

Yousuf eager for international return

Mohammad Yousuf, the Pakistan batsman, has said that he's still passionate about playing cricket and would relish the chance to play Test cricket again. He took a fitness test under Pakistan coach Dav Whatmore on Tuesday in a bid to stage a comeback to international cricket.

Yousuf, 37, last played a Test in 2010, when Pakistan took on England in the controversial Lord's Test that was marred by spot-fixing. Yousuf has not featured in international or domestic tournaments in more than nine months due to personal reasons. "I never lost my passion for cricket," Yousuf told ESPNcricinfo. "There were certain commitments in my life that got higher priority for a while, but now I am hungry to play."

He made his debut 14 years ago and has played 90 Tests (scoring 7530 runs at an average of 52.29) and 288 ODIs (scoring 9720 at 41.71). He says he wants to focus only on Test cricket in the future. "I am least concerned about ODIs. My focus [right now] is Test cricket, I want to play it. My basics are right and I have lots of experience under my belt."

Yousuf, whose career has been plagued by controversy in the past, was banned by the PCB twice in 2010. First, for his poor performance on a winless tour of Australia and then for differences with Younis Khan, which the PCB said was a bad influence on the team. "I don't want to live in past, people learn from mistakes. I have always tried to do my best, but sometimes things go wrong," he said. "I can't change the past, but I can only hope to revive my career."

With younger players like Azhar Ali and Asad Shafiq now featuring regularly in the side, some feel Yousuf will find it difficult to break into the team again. "I am not against new blood being inducted in the side - it's good," Yousuf said. "No one plays forever, but I still have cricket left [in me] and I have a role to play."

Pakistan are slated to tour Sri Lanka soon after the IPL to play two Twenty20s, five ODIs and three Tests. PCB's chief selector Iqbal Qasim said that the board would discuss Yousuf's future during their next meeting in May. "He is training and that's what all players must do, but that doesn't mean he will be selected in the team," Qasim said. "If a coach is interested in a player he must convince the selection committee [first]."

Umar Farooq is ESPNcricinfo's Pakistan correspondent