DateLine: 17th August 2012
Had Mohammad Yousuf been in any other Test cricket playing country he would have been gracefully recalled and included in the team after he had announced to stage a comeback. But in Pakistan unique traditions are set for its own. Mohammad Yousuf was discarded for selection in the Pakistan team which recently had a disastrous tour of Sri Lanka. The long illustrious service, experience and even the world record were of no avail or consideration.
Earlier Muhammad Yousuf had announced that he is still passionate about playing cricket and would relish the chance to revive his test career. Reportedly Mohammad Yousuf, prior to Pakistan Teamís selection for the tour of Sri Lanka had cleared the fitness test and had also impressed the coach Dev Whatmore with his form with the bat.
On the Sri Lankan tour Pakistan's unpredictable batting was once again fully exposed first in the oneĖday series and later in the Test matches, particularly in the first Test at Galle and then in the third Test at Pallekele. They were completely out of sorts in the first innings of both these Tests. On these occasions their batsmen threw in the towel much too easily without putting up any semblance of a fight. In fact they were just not equal to the task. Sri Lanka cashed in and eventually won both the one-day and Test series convincingly.
I believe Mohammad Yousuf should have been a part of Pakistanís batting line up and that certainly could have boosted the teamís morale and strength.
In fact, currently Mohammad Yousuf is the only batsmen who has an opportunity to emulate Pakistan's present record for Highest aggregate runs (Javed Miandad 8832 runs in 189 innings) and Most number of centuries scored in a career (Inzamam-ul-Haq 25 centuries in 200 innings) by an individual in Test cricket. Mohammad Yousuf has so far accumulated 7530 Runs (avg 52.39) in 90 Tests (156 innings) with the help of 24 centuries.
Could internecine jealousies be synergising and conspiring to keep him out? Are there any forces within the Board in high places wishing to keep him out?
Take a look across the border and note how patiently the Indian Board had waited to let Sachin Tendulkar accomplish the rare feat of scoring a century of centuries in international Cricket. Looking further away, ignoring the age factor and even performance the Australians have retained former Captain RT Ponting in their one day and test teams. Again, Jacques Kallis (37) another veteran is a regular part of the South African team. Shivnarine Chanderpaul (38) is the backbone of West Indies batting.
Honestly said, to ignore Mohammad Yousuf for his advancing age would be quite unfair, Pakistan Captain Misbah-ul-Haq is of the same age and the other senior player Younus Khan is nearly 35. There are many instances in past history as well when older players than Mohammad Yousuf had performed national duty for their teams. To quote a few, these include: England - DB Close (45), MC Cowdrey (43), TW Graveney (42) and RR Illingworth (43), Australia - RB Simpson (42), West Indies - GS Sobers (39) RB Kanhai (39) and FM Worrell (39), India - VM Mankad (42) and New Zealand - Bert Sutcliffe (43).
Mohammad Yousuf was at the zenith of his career in the season 2006-2007. He had established a new world record scoring 1788 runs at an amazing average of 99.33 in the calendar year 2006, by virtue of which he surpassed Sir Vivian Richards' Record of 1710 runs which had stood for 30 years. He achieved this record aggregate with a tally of Nine Hundreds, this performance earned him the title of ICC's player of the year 2007. His number of centuries (Nine) bettered the previous record of seven held by Vivian Richards (1976) and Aravinda DeSilva 1997.
Mohammad Yousuf last played for Pakistan in 2010 when he was wisely recalled by former chief selector Mohsin Hassan Khan to reinforce the touring Pakistan team in England. His arrival soon lifted the morale of the Pakistan team and his knock of 56 was instrumental at Pakistan's Victory at the Oval.
It is an irony of our fate that while the country has long suffered from political instability the Cricket Boardís policies too have remained inconsistent for most of the time Pakistan has been a Yest playing Country. One may except the two periods when one of our pioneers, Abdul Hafeez Kardar in the beginning and then quarter century, later famous all-rounder, Imran Khan were guiding Pakistan Cricket. But then men of great wisdom, acumen and vision like Justice Alvin Robert Cornelius and Air Marshall Noor Khan were at the helm of affairs in the Board, in those days of Pakistanís Cricket's phenomenal rise and glory. I can only wish that the present Board also follows the policies of those great legends and succeeds in restoring Pakistan Cricket's prestige.
No doubt Mohammad Yousuf's performance in his last four Test series, viz against Sri Lanka, New Zealand, Australia, England was not according to his own high standard yet he had made useful contributions with scores of 112 & 90 in Sri Lanka; 41, 83 & 89 in New Zealand, 61 & 46 in Australia and 56 against England all under trying conditions.
It would be in the larger interest of Pakistan cricket that Mohamamd Yousuf be recalled to serve Pakistan Cricket again, especially in view of the fact that Pakistanís next test series ahead is against South Africa - which currently is the best team in the world and there Pakistan will need the strongest available team.
The Chairman needs to exorcise the ghosts, brush aside internal politics and any pressure by vested interests that have partnered to sideline this National Hero. Simply stated - Pakistan Cricket needs him.
(Article: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author only.
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