Mohammad Yousuf to lead Pakistan

Mohammad Yousuf has been appointed the new captain for the Champions Trophy in place of Younis Khan, following a startling day which began with the latter publicly refusing to accept the Pakistan captaincy in the morning. A PCB official confirmed to Cricinfo that Yousuf will take over as captain and Abdul Razzaq will act as his deputy. Younis, having apologised to the PCB for his actions, has been retained in the squad.

"The team is united and Younis's stepping down will not harm our chances in the Champions Trophy," Yousuf told AFP. "We have a balanced side and know what challenge lies ahead in the trophy and we will be equal to it."

The PCB said in an official statement that it "deeply regrets that Younis Khan chose to announce his withdrawal from the captaincy of the Pakistan Team for the Champions Trophy. He did so without prior consultation with the Board. His decision to renounce the captaincy was a breach of discipline."

The decisions come after a day-long emergency meeting of PCB officials, including chairman Shaharyar Khan, after Younis had sensationally declined to captain Pakistan in the Champions Trophy just two days before the team was due to fly to India.

Younis was appointed captain late last month after the ICC slapped a four-match ban on captain Inzamam-ul-Haq at the hearing for The Oval controversy and has been the official vice-captain for almost two years now.

But at a surprise press conference at Gaddafi Stadium, sitting alongside Bob Woolmer, a grave looking Younis told reporters, "I don't want to be a dummy captain and the reason why I have refused the captaincy will be revealed afterward." Giving no further details, Younis walked out of the press conference.

Bob Woolmer told Cricinfo that Younis had resigned for a number of personal reasons. "I am very saddened that he has resigned because he is a very good player. I have a great relationship with him. My view is that he has resigned for a number of personal reasons and those reasons are best told by Younis himself. I will get on with my responsibility as coach as best as possible and continue to prepare the team for the Champions Trophy."

In an AFP report Woolmer was quoted saying "I fought for him in the team and helped him fight for his place against all odds, but his decision left me sad and disappointed. It seemed he could not take the pressure of captaincy. I am a firm believer that things happen for the good but we must learn quickly because the people of Pakistan have high expectations of this team and the World Cup is getting nearer."

Speculation is rife as to what those reasons are. It has been suggested by some that the inclusion of Faisal Iqbal in the squad as a replacement for Inzamam, without the approval of Younis, triggered the reaction. Another theory argues that Younis was unhappy at being made captain only for the Champions Trophy and not beyond, a decision endorsed by the PCB's ad-hoc committee yesterday which confirmed their support for Inzamam as captain from the West Indies series onwards. All of this, as yet, remains unsubstantiated.

For a while, Younis's position in the team, for the Champions Trophy as well as subsequent assignments were in doubt. It has been learnt that during the meeting a few officials were in favour of removing Younis from the team altogether. The idea of a disciplinary committee to investigate his actions and subsequent punishment - including his removal from the team - had been mooted. Ultimately though, Younis apologised for his actions and expressed the desire to play on as a batsman.

The PCB said it had "noted that Younis's decision to renounce the captaincy was a breach of discipline. However, he has since expressed his regret to the Chairman for the unsavory incident and has conveyed to the Chairman that he is prepared to continue playing as a team member. "

Yousuf has some experience in positions of responsibility; he was official vice-captain before Younis took over on the tour to India in 2004-05 and had captained on occasions when Inzamam was absent. Having been groomed as a potential successor for two years now, the chances of Younis becoming captain in the short-term are, according to one PCB official, "extremely dim."