Before everyone and his uncle starts to get on the band wagon and take the credit for Younis Khan, the record must be set straight. The Pakistan manager Fakir Aizazuddin is quoted by the news agency Reuters as saying that he and the coach Javed Miandad had specially asked the home selectors to include him in the replacements called for after the one-day series was lost 3-2.
Younis Khan had already been selected to join the team for the Test matches even before the team left Pakistan and did not accompany the team because he is deemed to be a specialist Test batsman. The manager is further quoted as saying "we could have used him in the onedayers".
What I would like to know is why Mohammed Sami was not played in the one-dayers nor Mushtaq Ahmed. The Test at Auckland was the first time I saw Sami bowl. I had, till then, only heard of him as a promising fast-medium bowler.
Indeed he is all of that and more. He is a strike bowler who swings the new ball and reverse swings the old, he bowls wicket to wicket and is distinctly quick. He is certainly going to enjoy bowling in England later this year and will have a large say in the Pakistan team for many years to come. He reminds me a lot of Aqib Javed at his best and Aqib at his best was a quality fast bowler.
Pakistan won the first Test without working up a sweat. There was an early hiccup when it lost four wickets for 124, after being put in and had Parore caught Younis when he was five, the Test may have taken a different turn.
But once Younis started to put the New Zealand bowling to the sword, Pakistan never moved from the driving seat. A victory margin of 299 is a massive one.
After the shambles of the one-day series, it was good to see Pakistan click, more so in the absence of the senior players. Imran Farhat looks to be an exciting prospect. He has tighter defence than Imran Nazir but like him, he must learn the virtue of patience which Faisal Iqbal displayed.
But no praise can be high enough for Younis Khan. He is not a newcomer and has had his chances. But he has the ability to convert fifties into hundreds though he did not do so in the first innings when he was out playing an extravagant drive off the first ball of the second day's play.
It was too early in the morning for a rush of blood. When Inzamam returns, Younis will have to be re-slotted in the batting order but certainly his place in the side is assured and since he has a wide array of shots and is a fine fielder as well, there is no reason why he shouldn't be in the one-day team.
Without taking anything away from the Pakistan team's splendid performance we must bear in mind that in Test team rankings, New Zealand languishes near the bottom of the heap, above only Zimbabwe and Bangladesh. We must not allow our joy at winning the first Test to make us jump to the wrong conclusions. Wasim Akram, Saeed Anwar, Abdur Razzaq were all unfit and when they get fit will return. So too will Shoaib Akhtar when the matter of his suspect action is cleared. There is really no question of senior or junior. What matters is ability, temperament and mental toughness as exemplified by Courtney Walsh, Mike Atherton, Steve Waugh, Allan Donald and Aravinda de Silva.
New Zealand was missing several key players including Chris Cairns and Daniel Vettori. Without them, the attack lacked penetration and to describe it as a Test attack would amount to poetic license. But a win is a win and let us hope that it becomes habit forming.
What is it about the subcontinent that it shows up the worst in a touring team? Despite the presence of an ICC umpire and modern technology, Test matches are riddled with controversies, mainly heated verbal exchanges questioning umpiring decisions. Usually it is the visitors who complain that they were done in by the home umpire but in the Kandy Test it was Nasser Hussain who was the beneficiary of atleast two decisions given in his favour by the Sri Lankan umpire B.C. Cooray who seems to have had a nightmarish match.
In India, the Australian Michael Slater who had a slanging-match with Rahul Dravid and there was confusion whether the match referee had banned him or not. Teams from England and Australia cannot visit the subcontinent without getting themselves involved in one controversy or the other, whether it is umpiring or curried shrimps or pollution in New Delhi.
Somehow these two teams winning in the subcontinent has become something special and so the teams put pressure on themselves and this leads to extra enthusiasm and which leads to excessive appealing which leads to nastiness.
The match referee seems to be helpless to bring a modicum of decorum to the proceedings. A touring team is an ambassador of its country. The millions who watch cricket don't get a chance to have tea and cookies with the diplomats of these countries. These millions will judge a country by the way its cricket players behave on the field.
A Test cricketer must ask himself: "am I a good advertisement for my country"? Apart from playing for money, which no one grudges, a Test cricketer also plays for national pride and, at all times, a country is judged by his actions and behaviour. This needs to be drummed into all players when they don national colours.
And finally, though hardly light-hearted for the person concerned. Duncan Fletcher, the coach of the England team has been refused a British passport. Fletcher is a Zimbabwean but claims British grandparents. Not good enough reasons for a British passport according to the Home Office. He has been named as coach till 2003 World Cup. Perhaps, the Home Office is waiting to see how England does in the World Cup. When Bangladesh won the ICC Trophy, the coach Gordon Greenidge was given Bangladesh nationality. It's another matter that he was sacked soon after.