Sunday, March 28, 2010
Mullah Yousuf to reitre
It is sad to see that bearded wonder from Pakistan, Yousuf is set to announce his retirement from cricket. I don't know much about the politics of Pakistan's cricket, but to ban him just doesn't look right. Banning players isn't a joke and the PCB seems to have kept everyone in dark regarding the exact reasons for banning players of the stature of Yousef and Younis. Anyway, I do hope that Yousef is remembered for his cricketing achievements.
Yousef made his test debut against South Africa in 1998. He had a modest start to his career. The Aussies who toured Pakistan in 1998/99 weren't said to be impressed by his habit of opening the face most of the times in an attempt to run it down to the third man region, but weren't they wrong as he was able to amass over 7000 runs at an average of over 53.
He became an established member of the Pakistan squad in 99 as he started to show his class in the one-day arena, but for me the turning point of his career came when he scored 95 at Brisbane in 99/00. Yes, the wicket was a belter, but his ability to play late and his wrist work just dumbfounded the Aussies. He and Saeed Anwar seemed to be taking the fight to the Aussies before they came-back strongly to win the match. Anwar was very lucky to be dropped by a great fielder like Mark Waugh early in his innings as he doesn't drop many, but it was good to watch both play attacking cricket. The Aussie players including their captain Steve Waugh did acknowledge that Yousuf had improved as a player beyond recognition.
As the years went by, he became a very consistent run-getter for the Pakistan team. In 2006 he became the run-machine of the Pakistan's side as he scored 1788 runs at an Bradmanesque average of 99.33. To average 99 is simply an awesome achievement. During that period, he scored a fantastic double hundred against England in Pakistan. It was a series in which Harmison and Freddie had troubled him with short pitch stuff, but Yousef came good in the last test and helped Pakistan to win the match and the series against England. He also scored heavily against their arch-rivals India and the Caribbean team. To be frank, he was always a thorn in India's flesh. Kumble and Harbie must have got fed up with seeing the face of both Yousef and Younis. Khan as both of them scored very heavily against India during that period. He also was in great form in England in 2006 though Pakistan lost the series 0-2. In England, he seemed to be toying with the opposition bowling as England's bowlers never looked like getting him out! It was no doubt the golden period of Yousef's career.
His troubles started in the 07 world up as Pakistan couldn't progress beyond the first round and Pakistan were hit by the controversy surrounding Woolmer's death. Pakistan's cricket is always troubled by internal fights and politics and it seemed like they didn't want Yousef anymore in the side. Yousef took the step of joining the ICL and as expected wasn't allowed to play for the Pakistan team. It looked like we may never the graceful batsman from Pakistan again.
Thankfully he came back to play for Pakistan in 2009 as he left the ICL. Yousef immediately made an impact by getting a century in Lanka, but the ability to consistently get big scores seemed to be missing. The politics in Pakistan meant that Younis. Khan resigned from the captaincy as Yousef took over the mantle of captaining the side in NZ. He never looked like the right man to lead the national side and to be frank was lackluste in Australia as a captain and didn't even do well as a batsman. In his defense, it has to be said that it isn't just the captain, but other players also have to take the blame for their disastrous performance in Australia. Now, Pakistan did lose the series 3-0, but if the PCB wanted him out they could have asked him to gracefully retire, but the ban just seemed to be harsh.
Yes, Yousef did struggle in places like Pakistan and Australia, but there is no doubt that he was a world class player and it is sad to see that he has to retire from the game with controversies surrounding him. Fans will surely miss the graceful batsman from Lahore, who made batting look very easy with his customary high back-lift and great wrist work.
I would like to thank Yousef for bringing joy to millions of cricket fans around the world with his graceful batting.