It would have made for a fascinating contest to watch the Yousuf of 2006 against a Dale Steyn who has now become king. — AP File Photo
It would have made for a fascinating contest to watch the Yousuf of 2006 against a Dale Steyn who has now become king. — AP File Photo

As Pakistan announced its squad for the upcoming Test series against South Africa in UAE, the question on everyone’s mind was the batting line up.

With no Nasir Jamshed in the squad, and the promising Asad Shafiq in limbo, the selectors are sending an exceedingly inexperienced batting line-up against a lethal South African bowling attack.

Pakistan ended the tour of Zimbabwe with a shock defeat in the second and final Test that deprived them of a series win and captain Misbah-ul-Haq admitted that it was their batting that was letting them down time and again.

“We are struggling because of our batting,” he said. “Batting has been our weak area for the last one year. We have tried different combinations, but all of our batsmen are struggling.”

At 39, the Pakistani captain, along with Younis Khan, has become the mainstay of whatever is left of the Pakistani batting line-up.

Despite the knocks he’s taken throughout his career for his glacial strike rate, or his inability to convert 50s into 100s, Misbah has played saviour for a team that has provided little support.

Along with being an astute captain with a sensible head on his shoulders, Misbah has been carrying the team almost single-handedly.

But speaking of 39-year-olds in the news, there’s another one who’s come out of hibernation: Mohammed Yousuf.

The one-time star, clearly jaded by his fall from grace in the eyes of the cricket board, said a few days ago that he had given up any hopes to return to international cricket, despite his belief that, “even today I know I could have been playing Test cricket.”

Given the seeming dearth of batting talent in Pakistan it makes you wonder why a player of Yousuf’s talent was left to pasture so prematurely.

Mention Yousuf’s name to any cricket fan and their eyes light up with wistful nostalgia. Almost immediately they talk about his effortless cover drive and how he was, by far, one of the most aesthetically pleasing batsmen to watch in recent times.

Yousuf as a batsman rekindled memories of Zaheer Abbas, with the high backlift and uncomplicated batting stance. Every stroke was a fluid motion, the blade of the bat coming down like a symphony conductor’s baton.

None of this was made more vividly clear than during the Australian series in 2004, where Yousuf (then Yousuf Youhana) battled one of the most formidable bowling attacks of that era.

Pakistan had been demolished in the Test at Perth, and looked to recover in Melbourne.

Yousuf walked to the crease with Pakistan in trouble and it’s when he composed his masterpiece.

Dogged by critics for his lack of mettle when it counted most, he set out to defy his critics and took on Australia’s most feared bowlers in Glenn McGrath and Shane Warne. He scored 59 of his 111 runs against Warne; three sixes going straight over the spin legend’s head, the four boundaries scored without too much fuss.

It was a performance of sheer class, where he displayed every facet of his batting prowess. His every shot was struck with the intention to score runs. Unlike the current generation of batsmen who flail haphazardly at deliveries, swinging and missing, shuffling all over the crease for mere survival, Yousuf played with poise and confidence.

He hooked McGrath, drove him straight down the ground, blunted the threat of Jason Gillespie and made light work of part-timer Michael Clarke on his way to a glorious century. Playing as captain in the absence of Inzamam-ul-Haq, Yousuf proved that beneath his artistry, lay a well of grit and determination.

His technique wasn’t text book perfection like that of Sachin Tendulkar, nor did he have the quirky flourishing style of Brian Lara, with the extreme high backlift and split-step just before making contact.

Yousuf’s technique was fluid and efficient. It was a tribute to the wristy wizardry of Indian masters like Sunil Gavaskar and Chetan Chauhan. There were no extravagant movements, no awkward twitches. He made it look easy.

But as stylish as he was, he also collected runs. He had every shot in the book, whether it was the deft late cuts, the effortless tickles down fine leg, elegant off drives, lofty flourishes over long on, the bludgeoning hooks to square leg or his signature flicks off his pads. His intention was to always score runs.

If Inzamam was an overpowered American muscle-car, Yousuf was a sleek Italian supercar.

Whether Yousuf would still be the player at 39 that he was a few years ago is unknown, but with more than 7,000 runs in 90 Tests, at an average of over 50, it defies logic that a player of his talent and ability was left out to dry at a time when the well of new talent was drying up.

The lazy maestro took on Curtley Ambrose and Courtney Walsh in their backyard, smacked the rampaging Freddie Flintoff and Steve Harmison after the duo's monumental success in the 2005 Ashes and took on the mighty Warne. It would have made for a fascinating contest to watch the Yousuf of 2006 against a Dale Steyn who has now become king.

According to Yousuf’s own assessment, he could still have been playing today. How he would have shaped up is anyone's guess. The hollow conclusion to his story and the Pakistani batting blues may mean that this languid figure still lingers on in the minds of those who appreciate finesse. And despite the injustices he feels he was dealt, for cricket fans the world over, Yousuf stands as one of a rare breed of batsmen who added beauty and grace to a sport that’s become more and more about power and muscle.


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Comments (71) (Closed)


Ali H
Oct 08, 2013 08:48am

Ah..what memories :(

Googlie
Oct 08, 2013 09:00am

If Tandulkar can still play why can

Mike
Oct 08, 2013 09:36am

Nah....glad he is out. He was the one who was involved in mixing religion with cricket.

Muhammad Daniyal Rashid
Oct 08, 2013 09:44am

I have no words as how his career ended..

All I know is that he could have easily achieved a lot lot more.... !

THE BEST BATSMAN PAKISTAN HAVE EVER PRODUCED & THE MOST STYLISH BATSMAN TO HAVE EVER PLAYED THE GAME !

Shahryar Shirazi
Oct 08, 2013 09:48am

He is more interested in tableegh than to do justice to the game and tax payers money. Lets leave him alone. Shahryar

Shehzad
Oct 08, 2013 09:59am

He missed out because of his callous attitude and weak character. Regardless of being very weak, Pakistani cricket is better without him. Less infighting and politics.

Najmul Islam
Oct 08, 2013 10:29am

No doubt about his class and excellence, I want to see him back again on playing field. We all miss you Mohammed Yousuf!

Nomi
Oct 08, 2013 10:35am

There is no place for yousaf in the presence of "maestro" players like hafeez, imran farhat, taufeeque Umar and misbah, politics in team has destroyed pld and new talent, another example is Abdul Razzaq who was kicked out just beacuase was disliked by hafeez...so no need to mourn....it is the culture of our corrupt nation

ali
Oct 08, 2013 10:35am

Great Column

Shehzad Ahmed
Oct 08, 2013 10:58am

I think board should try his fitness and atleast give hime a series to send him off with respect. There are many who are consistently failing so if he doesn't perform its all over for him but if he has good fitness and can still prove his skills we would could benefit from it and can also use him to groom young talent. He is younger then Misbah so why we have so much problem with giving a second chance to a world class batsman? PCB he deserves a second chance if that doesn't work make it his send off series.

Jojo
Oct 08, 2013 11:00am

He possibly would have been still batting had he remained true to his original faith.

Mujaahid
Oct 08, 2013 11:12am

Great article, The guy broke Vivian Richards record scoring most runs in a calender year, I don't know exactly as to what happen with him and PCB, but what a loss. Miss him too much :(...

ZaM
Oct 08, 2013 11:16am

His own mistake.... when he was peaking he went to play ICL (unofficial league) as he was thinking that no body can keep him out of Pak Team so here you are......and the same thing happened to Abdul Razzaq

Rehan
Oct 08, 2013 11:27am

Went straight down the memory lane after reading the above masterpiece. Yousuf was a class apart. What a legend he was. Could not agree more.

Hail Yousuf!

arun
Oct 08, 2013 11:57am

Its his own fault. He masterminded the removal of younis khan from captaincy and became captain. he was not suited to be one. lost test match in NZ which pak should have won, hence could not win the series and the sydney debacle happened. he did make a comeback and scored a century and then he got into more trouble with ijaj butt of jokes, who was hell bent on destryoing pak cricket

asif
Oct 08, 2013 12:09pm

yes

Mohammad Rashid
Oct 08, 2013 12:28pm

No doubt he is a great batsmen unfortunately another victim of PCB politics...... :-(

Bob-Wuxi
Oct 08, 2013 12:29pm

Think about bringing Miandad back. Why stop at Miandad go all the way back to bring Zaheer Abbas back. Cricket is different from a singing career and even then the comebacks are often failures- just in case you don't know this.

rabia
Oct 08, 2013 12:34pm

when PM's favorites like najam sethi become the chairman of the cricket board...what else can u expect....PCB acts more like an enemy to the players instead of its caretaker....Shame!

Capt C M Khan
Oct 08, 2013 01:05pm

He would have been playing if he would not have come under the INFLUENCE of TABLEEGES and INZIMAM, Sad he was one of the Best Crickters we had. Swept in the wave of over zealous Islamist those are ruling Pakistan these days.

JT
Oct 08, 2013 01:09pm

Out of pure bad luck, or for more nefarious reasons (I will let the reader be the judge of that) political infighting followed him almost always. His captaincy was also riddled with mediocrity.

In addition the bad habit of not turning up for First class matches, so Yousuf had a lot to do himself in getting himself out of the team.

iftakhar
Oct 08, 2013 01:29pm

Good article and about time someone appreciated the legend Mohammed Yousaf. I beleive and many other proper cricket fans know that even at this age Yousaf would probably still be pakistans best batsman.

It was a shame that the selectors did injustice against him because he would have ended up with the most centuries ever by a Pakistani and would have gone on to break the most test runs record for Pakistan. If Misbah can still play at this age, who is half the player Yousaf is, then definitely Yousaf should have been still playing. But what do you expect from a corrupt system where there is safarish and nepotism.

anonRus
Oct 08, 2013 01:27pm

Poor Yousuf. He became Muslim thinking that'd be the only qualification he was lacking for becoming the captain. Even then, he could not. So much injustice in life, no?

Riaz Ahmad
Oct 08, 2013 02:22pm

He was a fantastic batsman but the way he, as a Captain, threw away Sidney test match, brough shame to the game of cricket and name of Pakistan, he should have been sacked on the day.

I have no regrets he is not in the team. All deceision on merit please and there should be no room for any cheats. Pakistan First, money after.

Bring back pride in cricket.

AmmarAshraf
Oct 08, 2013 02:18pm

He is averaging 37.20 since 2006 in FC. He never worked hard on his fitness. He was even involved in Team politics (Forced 7 to 9 players to take an oath on the Holy Quran that they would not accept Younis Khan as captain). He also got attitude problem. PCB told him to play full domestic season and in reply he said that first PCB should tell him why he was dropped from squad.

He was not dropped from test squad. He suffered groin injury just before test series against South Africa back in 2010. After that he played only 7 First Class matches. And last time he played (in 2011), he score ZERO in both innings of match i.e; KING PAIR.

Look at other players, when they are out of form or injured they go back to domestic.

Pakistan Team needs team players and Yousuf definitely is not one.

Atif
Oct 08, 2013 02:49pm

@anonRus:

You must be an indian; it is a popular indian (hence rediculous) belief that Yousuf converted to captain Pakistan. If that were all, why did he have to grow such a long beard and become a tableeghi?

Atif
Oct 08, 2013 02:51pm

@rabia:

Yousuf was dropped long before Sethi came. Sethi's concentration is certainly not on cricket but that does not mean we should stop talking facts and start blaming all ills on him.

kash
Oct 08, 2013 04:14pm

After his record-breaking year he got greedy. All those monetary awards distracted him, but he did not do any favours by not playing much domestic cricket. His fitness is poor. Presently, the leanest and fittest members in the team are younis khan and misbah (no joke).

He don't deserve place in team. Pakistan is currently a mediocre team trying their best. All this stuff about, not playing at home is nonsense. Personally, i think its a blessing in disguise that pak players are playing in foreign conditions. Its the only way they are going to learn.

Pakistan must improve their runrate in test matches and also find the gaps in odi to keep scoreboard ticking. In middle overs pak should aim for 6 singles per over. We played hit and run cricket at school, It really helped us in finding gaps. If no run, we were out so the aim was to hit ball and run and survive. Pak should do this in their training.

Taimur
Oct 08, 2013 04:20pm

@anonRus: yousuf captain pakistan, he proved that he cannot be a good leader but he is one of the best batsman Pakistan ever produced and he can still play for a series or two for graceful retirement with big thanks for his services to Pakistan cricket.

Taimur
Oct 08, 2013 04:20pm

@Shehzad Ahmed: exactly right, give him series or two to play and retire with grace, but with mafia in present selector and PCB i dont think that is happening, i wish he could come for a series or two.... what shame to PCB to treat him the way they are....Shame

Syed Zeeshan
Oct 08, 2013 04:29pm

For those accusing Tableegh for his debacle, should know that he made highest number of runs in a calender year in the history of test cricket, while he was still associated with Tableeghi Jamat, It's his fitness which did not allow him to continue, credit must be given to Misbah for his fitness at 39, Yousuf aged early. Simple!!

Rogers Evans
Oct 08, 2013 04:49pm

It is a tragedy that Pakistan spoils the career of talentd players. It is because if players like Yousuf keep playing, then there will be hardly any chance to the relatives of PCB officials. No one cares for the respect of country, but their own kids or relatives. You will see the thrashing of Pak Team by South Africa in coming matches. Cricket has becme a bad taste in Pakistan

Taimur
Oct 08, 2013 05:05pm

Mr. Haqqi, very good write up, it is so unfortunate in our country that players like Yousuf are ignored. I am big fan of Yousuf and i dont understand how on this earth PCB can keep batsman of this class kept out of the team which is struggling with bat every single match. It shows how shameless our selectors and how uncricket players are sitting on the helm of affairs. I think only Chief Justise can get him back in team.I cant imagine a reason why selector keeping him out?. They should be giving him opportunity to play few series and retire gracefully, But obviously one cant expect grace from disgusting mafia sitting in PCB and selector, this is more or less trend in country anyway. Pakistan do not respection people who served country that is one of the reason Pakistan itself doesnt has respect left for itself in world!!! I Wish Yousuf is given chance.

Parvez
Oct 08, 2013 05:19pm

Yes if he had understood that cricket is a sport........and religion your personal issue.

iftakhar
Oct 08, 2013 05:26pm

@Riaz Ahmad: You clearly dont know what you are talking about because he wasnt the one who dropped three catches of Hussey it was Kamran Akmal.

Someone who averages over 50 in tests and 40 in odis should have been in this team longer than he was but this is pakistan where corruption and nepotism exists and people with too many ego probloems

Gerry D'Cunha
Oct 08, 2013 05:37pm

yousuf was only wanted until he was a fresh convert muslim and yousuf sacrificed his religion only to keep his place and to find a high position in cricket - poor chap must be regretting for his sin

Ahmed
Oct 08, 2013 05:57pm

Yousuf's premature and totally unfair exit was largely due to Ijaz Butt and to certain extent Salman Butt who in 2010 had been instrumental in exclusion of both Younus and Yousuf. And then under Ijaz Butt SL team was attacked in Lahore. Ijaz Butt is synonymous with "death of Pakstani cricket". In any all inclusive Pakistani villain list, Ijaz and Salman Butt should definitely be there.

Fara
Oct 08, 2013 06:02pm

Tableeghi Jamamt ruined his career.

Khan
Oct 08, 2013 06:28pm

@Parvez: Are you really stupid? When did he say he doesnt want to play? And pray instead

a
Oct 08, 2013 06:36pm

@Gerry D'Cunha: That's pretty ignorant of you to say that he "sacrificed" his religion to play cricket. He woke up and came to right path of god. Live with it Mr Gerry.

syed
Oct 08, 2013 06:43pm

@Gerry D'Cunha: What a sick mind and full of hatred

obaid
Oct 08, 2013 07:04pm

@Parvez: It is a shame that people are challenging his faith. May Allah help him in this world and after. It is the shameful PCB that does not like practicing Muslim Prayers. They are happy with secular players. This was one reason to drop him, despite his performance and elegance....

R.Kannan
Oct 08, 2013 08:19pm

Yousuf clearly was unfairly treated for most of his career for reasons which PCB never explained but were clearly not based on cricketing merrit. Clearly, Yousuf was one of Pakistan's best batsman and arguably the second best after only Miandad. His contemporaries like Younis & Inzaman may have scored runs on batting paradises but Yousuf's knocks were generally against quality opposition.

yousafhaque
Oct 08, 2013 08:30pm

@Gerry D'Cunha: All are converts here.No one has migrated from Arabia.Pl don't try to mislead us so that we can't find the real reason of our misdeeds

Nadeem (US)
Oct 08, 2013 08:31pm

@Riaz Ahmad: Do you think, PCB and selection commettie think like that 'Pakistan First relatives and friends later." If they think like this then we would have Yousuf, Azhar Mahmood, Razzaq, Muhammad Sami, Fawad Alam and many more telented players in the team. God Bless Pakistan

Shehzad Ahmed
Oct 08, 2013 08:31pm

@Riaz Ahmad: Did you see the team he was give? Please go back to check the team roster and tell me how many of them became really good cricketer that too against the Australian side in Australia at the peak. He was a world class batsman not world class magician.

Shehzad Ahmed
Oct 08, 2013 08:49pm

@Riaz Ahmad: Here is the roster for your reference of the Sydney. How many of them are truly big names in Test Cricket and you would want to see in Pakistan Test and how many of them can make it to world Team? Imran Farhat Salman Butt Faisal Iqbal Mohammad Yousuf*
Umar Akmal Misbah-ul-Haq Kamran Akmal

Shehzad Ahmed
Oct 08, 2013 08:47pm

Also those of you who claim he was greedy why are we then looking forward to the return of M. Amir and M. Asif. They are disgrace to Pakistan cricket but they were so greedy the bring not only the game but the country to great disrepute.

DE
Oct 08, 2013 09:05pm

@Fara: he broke the record of most runs and centuries in a year in 2006. he was in tableeghi jamat then.

Awais
Oct 08, 2013 09:41pm

Yousuf was one of my favourite players but I am afraid he himself is the reason for his demise. Cricket requires fitness and he became a lethargic player with no fitness at all at the end of his career. When a player uses his feet to stop a ball all the time because he can not bend quickly, then he must go. Your fitness always dictate your full capabilities.

Najam Saeed
Oct 08, 2013 11:00pm

Considering that there are gaping holes in the Pakistan batting lineup, it is a no brainer to include Mohammad Yusuf in the team. He has been wronged before and here is an opportunity to correct and rectify the past mistake of not including him in the team. Not only he will score runs for Pakistan but the youngsters would learn a thing or two from his technique and experience. A perfect transition will take place when Pakistan team will have a blend of both old and new players as it happens with all the national teams around the world.
Pakistan Cricket Board and Selectors: Surprise Us!!!

Syed
Oct 08, 2013 11:24pm

@Ahmed: I agree IJAZ Butt is certainly to be blamed & is responsible for the turmoil in Pakistani cricket including ruining Mohammad Yousuf's carrier and for pampering & keeping Kamran Akmal in the team despite of witnessing so many times his clear involvement in fixing!!Only Allah will punish him!

Azher
Oct 09, 2013 12:23am

Dear Bhai Haqqi, by your logic and nostalgia should we not recall Hanif Mohammed or Majid Khan? no offense to Yousuf who in my mind was an absolutely masterful batsman really gave up on his fitness towards the end. Just like you rolled back the tape on his heroic achievements please pull up his last outings and check out his fitness. If you disagree then I say we assemble the best lineup that we ever had through the years with only requirement of being alive! I would field following 11. Hanif Mohammed, Saeed Anwar, Zaheer Abbas, Javed Miandad, Inzimam ul Haq, Moin Khan, Imran Khan, Wasim Akram, Waqar Younis, Shoaib Akhtar and Saqlain Mushtaq.......I hope you see the problem not a single current player in the lineup and I am sure this team will tee off many people.......

Khan
Oct 09, 2013 12:35am

Dont worry, soon they will call Imran Farhat, who might score a century after playing for next 25 years.. or at least beat his own best .. 22* I beleive??

skeptic
Oct 09, 2013 01:43am

@Gerry D'Cunha: it seems you are the one who is feeling the burn.

Imran
Oct 09, 2013 02:19am

Do you think we can bring him back? Dawn please create a voting utility in the sports section. I believe that Allah has tested his faith enough and we want him back. Please!

Azam Chowdhry
Oct 09, 2013 04:16am

PCB needs to wake up and correct their past mistakes. They must give Yosuf a chance which he deserves the most.

Ernest Bowen
Oct 09, 2013 08:43am

@Fara: Yes I agree with Fara the Tableeghi ruined his career, they are not to be blemed alone as he himself ruined his career too by changing his religion one does not change his faith for the sack of it, he lost his identy by doing so, God help him

Salman
Oct 09, 2013 09:58am

Dear Yousuf, you are a great player. You should go to England, play county cricket, make two double hundreds (which I am sure you can). This will be good enough for our cricket board. Please do it for your fans and for yourself. We are missing your batting badly.

B.Raju
Oct 09, 2013 03:46pm

Yousuf is certainly one of the top test batsman for Pakistan. He was much of a headache for Indian bowlers who found it very difficult to remove him. He also scored freely against both pace and spin. He had a distinct class and it is a real pity he does not represent his country anymore. A fitting substitute may take long years to emerge.The loss is certainly not his.

Shan
Oct 09, 2013 03:41pm

@Riaz Ahmad: Yousuf didnt threw the match, It was Shaib Malick and co e.g. Akmal speacially go and see the highlights how akmal didnt run watsom out even watson was surprised.....

Shan
Oct 09, 2013 03:46pm

@Capt C M Khan: Totally agree with you sir, what a waste, they destroyed our cricket and now our country...these Saudi funded Molvies...

Shan
Oct 09, 2013 03:52pm

Its more of Yousufs own fault in not keeping his religion away from his profession, he was asked to play for county and he said he was not available in Ramzan. He didnt played domestic cricket was never a good fielder and argued with PCB to be selected for the T20's.

Not only Yousuf but most of our cricketers once in the team do not try to improve them selves dont work on their fitness (Younus and misbah are the only exceptions and once afridi is dropped).

Another example is Razzaq he destoyed him self if he would have worked towards his fitness he could have been bigger than kallis.

Shan
Oct 09, 2013 03:55pm

@Gerry D'Cunha: Lol at you if you think that way... He was selected when he was a christian...

Raj
Oct 09, 2013 05:24pm

Selecting Yousuf would be a step backwards for Pakistan, as he is 39 now and wouldn't play for more than a couple of years. Pakistan should be looking at youngsters like Akmal.

humayun
Oct 09, 2013 07:58pm

@Shan : In test cricket yousuf broke the record of most centuries and runs in 2006. that statement proves that his Performance was excellent and being a practicing muslim had no impact on its cricket. Player should be selected on his performance not on his creed How can you accuse tableegi jamat for such state of Pakistan . They are only bringing people back to their religion. They do not take even a single penny from any individual or state. I challenge you to give proof that they are funded from saudia. Do not blame any one without having solid proof

humayun
Oct 09, 2013 07:56pm

@Shan : In test cricket yousuf broke the record of most centuries and runs in 2006. that statement proves that his Performance was excellent and being a practicing muslim had no impact on its cricket. Player should be selected on his performance not on his creed How can you accuse tableegi jamat for such state of Pakistan . They are only bringing people back to their religion. They do not take even a single penny from any individual or state. I challenge you to give proof that they are funded from saudia. Do not blame any one without having solid proof

humayun
Oct 09, 2013 08:35pm

@Shan : In test cricket yousuf broke the record of most centuries and runs in 2006. that statement proves that his Performance was excellent and being a practicing muslim had no impact on its cricket. Player should be selected on his performance not on his creed How can you accuse tableegi jamat for such state of Pakistan . They are only bringing people back to their religion. They do not take even a single penny from any individual or state. I challenge you to give proof that they are funded from saudia. Do not blame any one without having solid proof

humayun
Oct 09, 2013 08:47pm

@Shan : In test cricket yousuf broke the record of most centuries and runs in 2006. that statement proves that his Performance was excellent and being a practicing muslim had no impact on its cricket. Player should be selected on his performance not on his creed How can you accuse tableegi jamat for such state of Pakistan . They are only bringing people back to their religion. They do not take even a single penny from any individual or state. I challenge you to give proof that they are funded from saudia. Do not blame any one without having solid proof

Gerry D'Cunha
Oct 10, 2013 01:38pm

@Mike: I agree with your comment 'mixing religion with cricket' - taking sign of the cross before batting as christian and saying the kalma as muslum when batting now - will say the geta if selected in india

WAX
Oct 10, 2013 03:18pm

@Shan : PCB DESTROYED RAZZI