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Having Yousuf in the ranks would mean that either Azhar Ali or Asad Shafiq would have to make way for the veteran. -File photo

The sudden emergence of 37-year-old Mohammad Yousuf on the Pakistan cricket scene may not come as a surprise to cricket fans in the country, they have seen quite a bit after all. The prolific batsman had announced his retirement from the game several times but there was nothing official about it.

But Yousuf ‘passing’ the fitness test at the National Cricket Academy in Lahore under the eagle eye of coach Dav Whatmore and actually being in the reckoning for a spot in the Sri Lanka bound squad (series starts in June), was least expected.

The development is puzzling not because of the fact that he last played international cricket in 2010 but more because Pakistan now seem to have a pretty stable lineup in tests, the only format Yousuf is likely to be considered for.

There is no need to dwell into stats to recognize his batting ability which made him one of the best produced from the country, but there is little doubt that he clearly is a ‘has been’.

Yousuf had been focusing on preaching and was hardly seen on a cricket ground in the last 10 months or so, he skipped the entire first class season and didn’t feature in either the national T20 or One Day tournaments.

His last appearance in a recognized match on the national circuit was in the inaugural edition of the super eight T20 in June.

Yousuf did impress those assessing his fitness in Lahore with his dribbles, sprints and his flexibility but the question remains, is he actually in shape to last the rigours of international cricket having last appeared in Pakistan colours some 17 months ago?

More importantly, one wonders where he would be slotted if he wins back his place? Test match format, ODIs or T20s?

Let us dwell on limited overs varieties first: If chosen for an ODI, Yousuf would probably bat at number four in the middle order sandwiched between Younis Khan and Misbah-ul-Haq.

Pakistan has already been struggling to make a move with the bat in the 50- over format, and Yousuf’s inclusion would make Umar Akmal the only genuine stroke maker in the batting line-up, sit out if all-rounder Hammad Azam is given a chance. His lethargic fielding and diving was clearly a source of entertainment for English commentators during the ill-fated tour in 2010, some two years later Yousuf is set to be even more pedestrian on the field.

He is simply not cut for T20 format at this age, even at his prime he was left out of Pakistan’s team in the 2007 and 2009 T20 World Championships. The master batsman has featured in only two international matches in the shortest format.

The only format Yousuf could find a place in is the test match format. He is currently the third highest run-scorer for Pakistan in this format. However, in his absence young guns Azhar Ali and Asad Shafiq have made a mark and very much cemented their places, at least for the Sri Lankan series.

With these young batsmen and Umar Akmal, Pakistan has won eight out of its last ten test matches, a staggering record to say the least.

Ali and Shafiq have emerged unscathed from a testing series against England and deserve some breathing space.

Having Yousuf in the ranks would mean that one of them would have to make way for the veteran.

Importantly though, the selection committee is not too keen on considering Yousuf. They see his emergence from the wilderness a unilateral decision by Whatmore, which needless to say has irked them greatly.

It remains to be seen whether Yousuf would make it to Sri Lanka, though there is clearly very little to gain from his return.

Let us hope that in the years to come we continue to celebrate the master batsman’s feats, rather than sulk on his uncalled for return.

Updated Apr 26, 2012 10:53am

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Yasser
Apr 26, 2012 03:53pm
You have to ask yourself whether Asad Shafiq or Azhar Ali are better batsman than Yousuf. They are not. Yousuf was unfairly discarded by Ijaz Butt and by rebellious players, Afridi chief among them. How players like Mohammed Hafiz play ahead of him is beyond comprehension. He is a quality quality player. A middle order which includes Younis, Yousuf, Misbah and Umar Akmal seems more daunting than one which includes Azhar Ali and Asad Shafiq. They are both good players but they are not the best players.
Irfan
Apr 26, 2012 01:09pm
Yousuf WAS a good player. He has not been playing for a long time and his record in 2007 can not give him a place after 5 odd years. He should better start coaching or to establish an academy
John
Apr 26, 2012 02:02pm
We need Yousaf for the youger players to learn from him, if he passes a few master class tecnicques then it could only be good for Pakistan cricket.
Owais
Apr 27, 2012 03:14am
Yousuf lacked physial fitness even at much younger age, now at 37 and without having played any first class cricket for long time, the talk of his making a come back is ridiclulous. Agree, he was a class batsmen but so were Miandad and Inzi, no one can last for ever. For god sake, lood to the future and on't look back. After winning test series against SL and England without him, why we need him now. Wonder whos brilliant idea was this. I'm glad Iqbal Qasim has asked him to prove match fitness by playing first class cricket before being onsidered.
saythetruth
Apr 27, 2012 05:50am
Excellent choice he got nerves of steel and he still has 3~4 years of cricket in him. Why not is give him a chance we owe it to him based on his past performance.
LSidd
Apr 26, 2012 03:25pm
I am a great fan of Muhammad Yousuf. No one can forget what the master blaster batsman achieved in back in 2006....1788 runs in Calendar Year. Also, if i'm not wrong, he is Pakistan's second leading scorer behind INZAMAM UL HAQ with 9,720 runs............so he's a real asset for PAKISTAN!
Vaseem Siddiqi
Apr 26, 2012 02:20pm
If Misbah can make a come back into Pakistan team not only as a batsman but also as Captain so can Mohammed Yusuf only as a test batsman. Mohammed Yusuf is a class act and TEAM PAKISTAN should always play its eleven BEST players if they want to be one of the top test teams in the WORLD. My test XI would BE: 1. Hafeez / Taufeeq; 2. Azhar; 3. Yunus; 4. Yusuf; 5. Misbah; 6. Umar; 7. Sarfraz; 8. Gul; 9. Wahab / Junaid; 10. Rehman; 11. Ajmal. In my opinion Asad Shafiq is still work in progress and one for the future.
Salman
Apr 28, 2012 02:07pm
Yosuf should be given a chance to show his fitness and performance. Why not? When you can give chances to Shoaib Malik. Also please understand that Yosuf is a far better batsman then Yonus and Misbah and he has a better scoring rate then the two. Fielding is of no concern to great players. How was the fielding of Imran Khan, Tendulkar, Ganguly, Zaheer, Inzamam, Shoaib Akhter, Murli, Warne etc.. Salman
Atif
Apr 26, 2012 02:04pm
Yousuf can slot into Test matches: Taufeeq Umar is unreliable and out of form. Azhar Ali is an opener by trade so he and Younis Khan can move a slot up fitting Yousuf at number 4.
haider
Apr 26, 2012 11:56am
They can adopt a rotation policy in test matches between yousaf, younis, and misbah with two of them playing in any given match. But please do not drop asad and azhar at this stage. They clearly are our future. Also its about time umar akmal starts performing consistently. An innings of 50 odd runs after every 4 or 5 innings is clearly unacceptable. He has had his chances for a long time now.
ish
Apr 26, 2012 01:09pm
Yousuf is not a better batsmen than Misbah, His talent was not wasted, he flourished during his prime in 2007 and won various awards. He's past it now, how did you not understand this from the 2010 england tests, and the horrific captaincy that lost easily winnable matches against Australia Jan 2010. Carry on developing talents such as Azhar Ali and Asad Shafiq and stop living in the past!
kamal
Apr 26, 2012 02:26pm
Good Luck Pakistan.. We got ride of Malik, K Akmal & Yousuf and so many thanks to Whatmore ( What More ), you are bringing them back. at the cost of Sarfraz and Asad.
Jawwad
Apr 26, 2012 02:51pm
Just why cannot we bring Yousaf back for the last series so he may retire honorably? Why can't we do that to honor one of our greatest batsmen? Age is only a number. Real fitness matters.
pakistani
Apr 26, 2012 01:32pm
Mohammad Yousuf was a great player im not sure how much cricket left in him after such a long gap though it would be more beneficial if his services could be hired to train youngster specilaly on academy level to shine them. as we need lot of good batsman in batting department. But still i hope he will perform better . i hope luck to Mr Yousuf im a big fan of him.
saad
Apr 26, 2012 01:34pm
Why do not you leave it to the experts who better know what they are doing. Besides, before passing up judgments just wait and see how it entails. If Jaisuriya can be given a chance at the age of 42, or Tendulkar can be given a chance at the age of 38 why can't Yousaf be given a chance at the age of 37. If you do not trust the judgement of an experienced Australian coach with such slendid record then God knows who you trust!
Abid
Apr 26, 2012 03:43pm
An adept batsman like Muhammad Yousaf should be with team for brief time period. whether he is in playing eleven or not, New guys can take advantage of him and learn automatically. A good example of Azhar's first 92 score which was clearly due to his partner's (yousaf) support through out the innings.
Hasnain Raza
Apr 26, 2012 11:36am
u have presented good article, but i do not agree with ur concluding opinion that there is little to gain from Yousaf's return. He truly and fairly comfortably deserves a spot in the team in test format. His average is 50+ and he has scored many centuries, he still can benefit our team alot. Be remineded that real batting examination will come at pitches like england, australia and south africa, and going there with Yousaf is definitely fruitful. We better learn how india have dealt with a player like Sachin. We, on the other hand, let our experienced and world record holder cricketers leave us rather easily. I'll put here example of Wasim Akram who still could play for Pakistan for atleast two more years, but Tauqir Zia (the then chairman) & Amir Sohail (the then chief selector) didn't bother to convince him for anything, but they were happy as their old foe was retiring.
mohsin
Apr 27, 2012 01:23am
How many learners did Inzimam left behind. How many learners did Sachin left behind? The world of cricket moves forward every few years and we move backwards. Pls get a life!!!
Sarmad
Apr 26, 2012 01:54pm
Bad choice, at 37 he is only a shadow of his past self
Irfan Yussuf
Apr 26, 2012 05:15pm
The Pakistani selectors ruined his cricketing carrier.Shoaib Malik also played a key role in destroying his carrier.Had he been given a fear chance he more certainly would have been the highest run scorer for Pakistan both in tests and onedayers.and on top of that religious people like Mohammad Yussuf do get a kick both from some nonsense and ruied players in the team an d from the slectors.
Abdullah
Apr 26, 2012 02:57pm
He should have been given a chance much before. But better late than never.
farooq
Apr 26, 2012 02:28pm
yousaf was indeed a great batsman, no question about it. He served Pakistan team very well and was a joy to watch both in Test matches and ODI. He's been in and out for last few years largely due to fitness problems. The fact is he was struggling. What's changed now? Is he now suddenly super-fit and got his hunger back. I've seen Miandad go through something similar. Kapil Dev of India was same. Why do not these guys learn from history and pack up at the right time. If he comes back, this would probably be his third come back . Bit too much. Not much left in him at the International stage. Let's keep moving forward.
Salman
Apr 26, 2012 11:46pm
Let him give him a chance to prove his ability once again and groom young talent around him, If he don't succeed see him off with respect and honour which he deserve.
Haq
Apr 26, 2012 04:44pm
There is certainly a lot to be gained by Yousuf. He was a victim of Chairman and team politics. He is a legend for ages to comes in Pakistani cricket and he can teach and mentor the young upcoming batsmen to become cricet greats of Pakistan as well. Test match cricket is a whole different game with T20/ODI. With the guys playing more T20s and more money in T20s, they test batting temprament will definitely suffer. Here Yousuf can help alot. I hope he makes it to the SL bound squad.
Jawwad
Apr 26, 2012 02:53pm
Wasim Akram could have easily played for another 2-3 years. It's a shame he was employed by PCB and not another professional cricket board.
shahid shabir
Apr 26, 2012 05:17pm
i dont see any comparison even between Yonus, misbah and yosuf, he is world class batsman and reckoned by the whole world, asad and azhar are no way near his class even if they lose there place in the side it will be better for them atleast they will get a chance to play and learn some new things which they are missing currently, he a legend and legends don;t need practice they have there own class they are born greats and play till they want.
Ali
Apr 26, 2012 05:18pm
There is no risk if A world class Batsmen is given a chance,,, he is experienced, classy and can help younger batsmen with his experience. He is better batsmen than Jayasuriya who was given a chance at the age of 42. Yousuf is 37 and if he has passed the fitness test and he thinks he can perform then why not to give him a chance..........He is world record holder and pride of Pakistan he wish should not be turned down before trying him one more time. He deserves
Pakistani
Apr 26, 2012 12:59pm
He can easily replace Taufiq or Asad in the test squad ... Cant be worse than Misbah and Younis (the worst odi player in the history to have played 250 matches) ... regarding fielding he's not great but remember yunis is no jonty either...... get your facts right....
Mirza Himayun
Apr 26, 2012 08:11pm
MY should have been a playing coach in the team all along. While Tandulker and Chanderpaul are making headlines we are wasting out best batsman. It is a shame that MY was dropped while the thieves like Butt were rewarded. MY has always been a class in his own and a man of character.
Wasif M Khan
Apr 26, 2012 03:18pm
He was undoubtedly among the best three or four batsmen Pakistan has ever produced but it is a well-known fact that one of his shoulders is a complete mess and he refused surgery many times fearing that the knife would end his career. Apart from the adverse effect on his batting, it clearly wrecks his fielding ability. Test matches are a grueling test of fitness more than a test of technique and Yousaf had better sanely and unselfishly decide to let the youngsters develop inti whatever they can be rather than eke out a few more pedestrian matches.
Shavi
Apr 26, 2012 12:30pm
The only thing to learn from how India have treated Sachin is that old players need to be dropped. The only century Sachin hit over the past year came against Bangladesh in a losing cause. Had India dropped him and given their juniors a chance, they might not have been humiliated in England and Australia. I fully agree with the author, if Pakistan can whitewash the current Test No.1 without MoYo then there is no need to drop the youngsters in his favor. What good will squeezing another year of cricket out of him do for Pakistan in the long run?
Abdul jabbar
Apr 27, 2012 01:46am
Yousuf is great batsman and very useful inTest matches: He can be replaced by any Taufeeq Umar who is out of form. previous selection committe had a bis against him.
Babar Zia
Apr 26, 2012 07:53pm
Emaad Hameed can write an article assessing what format Yousuf is fit for before reading what Yousuf said, that he is only interested in playing Test Cricket. Kudos to the Dawn sports editor. Good Job Sir. Now the highly respected and loved newspaper like Dawn is becoming trash as well.
Asif Khan, Leeds
Apr 27, 2012 10:33am
Completely agree.
Capt Mansur (Namibia)
May 02, 2012 07:00am
Yousaf was the best batsman, maybe is but, to play a person must be in form and rhythm. Yousuf should have played in domestic cricket to show his passion for cricket which he did not. He can still make a comeback if he plays the next season, until then we have to suffer watching mediocre players like Asad and Azhar.
Ali
Apr 26, 2012 03:40pm
Stop Living in the past? Well get rid of Younis Khan and Misbah considering their performances. Younis Khan has been awful in ODIs as has Misbah. Both players along with Azhar Ali and Asad Shafiq play zero shots. Most people have forgotten this but Mohammad Yousuf keeps the scoreboard moving in every format. I think its safe to say why people don't want Yousuf in the team. Most of the reasons are non-cricketing.
Ahmed
Apr 26, 2012 01:03pm
Pakistan need batsman like Yousuf to bring the maturity in some of the youngster like Umar Akmal , Asad , Azhar and Hammad. These Youngsters can learn from him in a 2 years period. Yousuf comes from the class of Batsman like Sachin, Javed Miandad, Inzamam, Viv Richards. We have to built our consisetency in batting which can be a winning formula. Folks, he is a great asset for Pakistan . Don't waste it
Tanveer
Apr 27, 2012 12:14am
I think he should come back for 2 years in Test and ODI away from home (home i mean UAE ) .. I don't understand Younis Khan only plays in one inning in a series apart for them he just does some 20s ... he is not consistant at all out where as Yousuf was always contributed away or home... and technique is awesome some thing learn for these new generation
babupardesi
Apr 26, 2012 11:56am
Here comes generation gap, instead of becoming a mentor or coach for fresh generation, Yousuf wants to fight for his position. No doubt he was a great player and master of strokes To me this is not a right approach...............
akie ahmad
Apr 26, 2012 03:49pm
Definitely, include Yousuf in the side if younus and misbah can be there yousuf deserve more than anyone. He is in the class of tendulkar , ponting , inzimamulhaq. He is a batsman who had been at the top for the most runs in a year. He is a century batsman not the 30s, or 50s batsmen like we have in abundance these days... Get him back ..
ifty
Apr 26, 2012 12:16pm
Whoever u r u dont know what you are talking about, if misbah at the age of 38 can play for Pakistan so can yousaf and besides yousaf is a better odi and test batsmen than mid ah, he can al so be a good guide and mentor for the younger batsmen. He is a brilliant player whose talent was wasted by the pcb, who just like yourself have not got a clue.
ahmad
Apr 27, 2012 12:32pm
While we waste a great like Yousaf , we keep bringing players of mediocre calibre and pakistan's batting continues to be brittle and totally unreliable.The team desperately nees a batsman of Yousaf's stature to provide stability.He has been a victim of PCB's flip flop policy.There are more half a dozen top class batsmen in world cricket who continue to play in the mid to late thirties(Tendulkar,Ponting,Hussey)....and we are bent upon wasting the talents of one the best batsmen of his generation.Admittedly he is not perfect for limited overs but for tests he would be great strength for the team.Pak batting needs to stand up because you can't just rely on Ajmal &co to save team ALWAYS.!!!!!!!!!
xyz
May 03, 2012 07:07am
i completely agree...we keep bringing back imran farhat and shoib malik why not yousif!
Atif
May 02, 2012 01:57pm
Muhammad Yousaf is a world class batsman who have won many matches for pakistan. Still their is lot of cricket for him. He should be in Test or even in ODI. (He is standard is more than Younis and Misbah)
sattar ullah
Apr 28, 2012 07:31am
i think, the standard for selection should not be age. if his performance is still good and he also offer his services to Pakistan cricket, then Pakistan cricket board official should not play with any one career. many official of cricket team are afraid of senior cricketer like shahid afridi, yousaf and they are promoting junior player (although it is good to promote junior player, but PCB intention is not good behind this, they are promoting junior player in order to strengthen their supremacy , which is not good for Pakistan cricket). we have seen such an example in recent past, when PCB official were close to mazhar majeed and other corrupt person, because these people were facilitating PCB official in foreign tour illegally.
asad
Apr 28, 2012 07:56am
Thats so sad to hear
Fawad
May 02, 2012 12:03pm
Very well written.
Akhtar Hassan
May 01, 2012 01:53pm
If writer thinks that Azhar Ali and Asad Shfiq have done well in tests with averages of 38 and 37 respectively then hats off to his knowledge. Azhar has so far played in 21 tests and Asad in 13 but both have just one century each to their credit and Asad's century was against Banladesh, a team with the most dismal Test record ever. Umar Akmal's test record is even worse. Does the writer really think that Pakistan won its last eight tests because of Azhar, Asad and Akmal's batting? It was Pakistan's bowling that played the major role in those victories. Specially the spinners were outstanding, Saeed Ajmal in particular. All writers should do some research before writing such articles.