Pakistan cricket woes take new turn
by AFP

Player:Younis Khan, Mohammad Yousuf, Mushtaq Ahmed, Inzamam-ul-Haq
Event:ICC Champions Trophy 2006/07

DateLine: 7th October 2006


Pakistan's cricketing woes took a new turn Saturday when Younis Khan withdrew his earlier decision to decline the captaincy after authorities appointed a new cricket boss.


In a strange twist, newly-appointed Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chairman Nasim Ashraf announced Younis and not Mohammad Yousuf would lead Pakistan in the Champions Trophy, which kicks off with the qualifying rounds in India on Saturday.


Ashraf, who took over as PCB chairman after incumbent chairman Shaharyar Khan resigned Friday night, announced the decision at a press conference in the eastern city of Lahore.


"Younis has been reappointed as captain and we have decided not to take Mushtaq Ahmed as assistant coach for the Trophy," Ashraf said, apparently on advice from Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf, who is also patron of the PCB.


Younis had refused to lead the team on Thursday, saying he did not want to be a "dummy captain", apparently over differences with some of the senior players and over the selection of Faisal Iqbal as 14th player.


Yousuf was subsequently appointed captain.


Mushtaq's appointment as assistant coach had been criticised, as a match-fixing inquiry conducted by Justice Malik Mohammad Qayyum in 1998 barred the former leg-spinner from holding any post with the team.


Pakistan's regular captain Inzamam-ul-Haq is facing a four-match ban over bringing the game into disrepute during the August Oval Test against England.


"Pakistan cricket is at crossroads as Shaharyar quits," screamed the front page headline of the country's premier newspaper Dawn as it summed up the last two months.


"Another day, another resignation. On Thursday, it was the ever-reliable Younis who, in a rare fit of anger, quit as captain to rock the Pakistan cricket boat. On Friday, it was Shaharyar Khan's turn to go one up," the newspaper said.


Daily newspaper The Nation said Khan was a victim of the recent bitter events.


"It is quite obvious that Khan turned out to be the fall-guy, the one to pick up the tab for the acrimony that had somehow crept in Pakistan cricket after the Oval fracas, when ours became the first team to have forfeited a Test match," The Nation said.


Former chairman Khan said he had been upset by the turmoil.


"Yes, I am hurt because of the recent events like the Oval Test and Younis Khan fiascos," Khan, a former diplomat, told AFP on Friday.


"I thought this is the right time to step down and pass the responsibility to someone else. The Younis Khan episode has hurt me more than the Oval fiasco," said Khan who had headed the PCB since December 2003.


Khan said the Oval fiasco was a stigma on Pakistan cricket but he hoped the new chief will help Pakistan cricket out of the current situation.


"I would not say its a crisis, and hope that Dr Ashraf will do his best to help Pakistan cricket in the future," said Khan.


The new chief, Ashraf, who played three first class matches for Peshawar in domestic cricket in 1969, vowed to redeem Pakistan cricket.


"I will work to the best of my abilities to help and lift Pakistan cricket," said Ashraf, who was due to meet team players before they depart to India.


The qualifying round of the Champions Trophy started Saturday but Pakistan, who will feature in the main rounds, open their campaign with a match against a qualifier team in Jaipur on October 17.

(Article: Copyright © 2006 AFP)


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