Younis Khan has joined Misbah-ul-Haq in retiring from international cricket at the end of the tour of the West Indies in April and May. He announced his decision in Karachi on Saturday, two days after Misbah did likewise in Lahore, bringing an end to a 17-year Test career.
"People are calling me and asking me not to make any announcement to leave but now is the time," Younis, 39, said in Karachi. "A time comes in every player's life when he has to decide and I always tried my best to serve my county with my head high. No player always remains fit, the motivation never remains the same, so this is the time when Younis should leave the field after the upcoming series in West Indies."
The exits of Younis and Misbah after the three Tests in the Caribbean will cost the Pakistan team more than 190 matches worth of experience. Younis heads into the series 23 runs short of becoming the first Pakistan batsman to score 10,000 Test runs. Misbah, nearly 43, needs 49 for 5000.
"I always tried to be a good ambassador and serve my country to take it one step forward," Younis said. "If I've ever made a mistake in my career, if I've forgotten something, or done something wrong, please think of me as one of your own and forgive me, ignore me and let's move on.
"This isn't something sudden, this was always building up and few of my close friends knew it. Although I had a plan to retire after surpassing Javed bhai's [Miandad] runs record, then I was motivated to complete 10,000 runs so I have decided to get them. The reason I announced it beforehand was people start asking me for more, they could then ask me to take 11,000 or 12,000 or I may start thinking about reaching Sachin's 15,000 runs. Humans can never be satisfied but I am not of an age to make it that far, so I want people to respect my decision and allow me to fulfil my future plans."
Though Younis and Misbah leave on their own terms - unusual for Pakistan cricket - it is reasonable to think that eventually, a decision could have been forced upon them. It is understood the chief selector Inzamam-ul-Haq was keen for both to retire after the West Indies tour, allowing them a proper farewell and a chance for Younis to get to 10,000. Inzamam wants to build a younger side around a new Test captain and felt this was the time to do it.
Speculation of retirement had not followed Younis like it did for Misbah, but the lack of a big score until the third Test in Sydney, where Younis made an unbeaten 175, did raise the question. Younis had said then that his future depended on what the team wanted from him.
Pakistan coach Mickey Arthur knew that pressure would mount quickly on Younis and Misbah, especially if results did not go Pakistan's way. The situation Pakistan wanted to avoid was both leaving at the same time. Arthur said during Pakistan's tour of Australia that in an ideal world, he would want them to stagger their exits so that the impact on younger batsmen in the side could be more carefully managed. Younis and Misbah had a significant influence on the development of players like Azhar Ali and Asad Shafiq.
When asked how Pakistan would cope with him and Misbah leaving at the same time, Younis expressed confidence that Pakistan would be able to move on.
"In the past these things were said, what Pakistan will do with big stars leaving, it will be difficult ahead … but life never stops for anyone, it needs to move on," he said. "When I came in I shared the dressing room with players like Rashid Latif, Moin Khan, Inzamam, Wasim, Saeed Anwar and I thought what will happen if they fade away. All pressure will come on us as junior players.
"But after two to three years Pakistan still did wonders, like in 2009 I won the World T20 with youngsters around me … I think Sarfraz [Ahmed] has a chance here to stand up and take the Pakistan team forward and we should think this way."
Younis has played 115 Tests, having made his debut in 2000, and has 9977 runs at an average of 53.06 with 34 hundreds, the most for a Pakistan batsman. His best Test score - 313 against Sri Lanka in 2009 - is the third highest for Pakistan, after Hanif Mohammad's 337 and Inzamam-ul-Haq's 329. He was recently named one of Wisden's Five Cricketers of the Year, following his contribution in Pakistan's 2-2 drawn series in England last summer.