LAHORE, Oct 5: In a dramatic turn of events, Pakistan cricket’s ‘Mr Clean’ Younis Khan lost his cool at a press conference here on Thursday to abruptly walk away from his assignment of leading the national outfit in this week’s ICC Champions Trophy.
"I want to tell you that I am refusing captaincy because I don't want to be a dummy captain and the reasons will be revealed afterwards,” Younis told a stunned gathering of journalists at the Gaddafi Stadium before storming out of the press briefing.
The Pakistan Cricket Board later announced that middle-order batsman Mohammad Yousuf, 32, will be leading the side in the mega event from October 7 while all-rounder Abdul Razzaq will be the vice-captain.
The experienced Younis Khan was appointed after regular captain Inzamam-ul-Haq was handed a four-match One-day International ban for leading a protest against allegations of ball-tampering during the final Test against England at The Oval in August. Yousuf was named vice-captain at the time.
The team is due to depart for Jaipur on Saturday. Pakistan open their Champions Trophy challenge against a qualifier on October 17.
The sequence of events on Thursday started at 11.00am when Younis, flanked by coach Bob Woolmer, came to address a press conference at the Gaddafi Stadium.
It was obvious before the start of the press briefing that Woolmer had been trying to convince Younis about something though the latter seemed adamant.
Immediately after his shock announcement, however, Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) Director Operations Saleem Altaf told reporters: "Younis has not told us any reason, and we are in negotiations with him. As soon as we get any details we will reveal them to the media."
In what appeared a desperate effort to control further damage, the PCB chairman sent a two-member delegation comprising PCB Director Cricket Operations Saleem Altaf and newly appointed manager Talat Ali Malik to negotiate with Younis, who is staying at the National Cricket Academy.
But despite a 45-minute dialogue, no headway was made and the two officials returned without resolving the matter. Apparently, Younis had made it very clear to them that he would not withdraw his decision.
A last ditch effort was made when Inzamam was called at the ground in the afternoon. The burly batsman first met coach Woolmer and then had a brief meeting in the umpires' room with the PCB officials.
Inzamam later met Younis at the Gaddafi Stadium for a good twenty five minutes, though, with little success.
Later, Shaharyar summoned Yousuf to get his consent for the captaincy in Younis’ presence following which both Younis and Yousuf left for the NCA together, keeping the reporters of various publications and tv channels at bay.
A full statement from the PCB in the afternoon revealed they too had been caught by surprise as Younis walked away from the captaincy.
"The Pakistan Cricket Board deeply regrets that Younis Khan chose to announce his withdrawal from the captaincy of the Pakistan Team for the Champions Trophy. He did so without prior consultation with the board."
Furthermore, the PCB statement went on to describe Younis' actions as a "breach of discipline" - adding that the long-time vice-captain could now face further action. However, he will not be dropped from the Champions Trophy squad.
"Younis Khan has since expressed his regret to the chairman (Shaharyar Khan) for the unsavoury incident," the statement said. "(He) has reconfirmed to the chairman that he does not wish to be considered for the captaincy of the team for the Champions Trophy and has conveyed to the chairman that he is prepared to continue playing as a team member.
"PCB has taken note of the incident, and the matter will be dealt with in accordance with the rules and regulations of the board. Younis Khan will step down from the captaincy of his own accord but will continue to play in the team."
In the evening, a visibly perturbed Pakistan Cricket Board Chairman, Shaharyar held a short session with mediamen to clarify position on change in captaincy.
A diplomat to the boot, he was all praise for Younis and spoke of the player’s past performances while also hinting of disciplinary action against him for his act.
"It is true that Younis made a mistake as he took a unilateral decision without consulting the PCB and announced it before the press for which the board will take action according to its rules and regulations later,” said the PCB chief.
“But as Younis has accepted his mistake, therefore, the board keeping in view his great performances for the team in the last two years and his fine disciplinary record, has decided to send him to India and he will, hopefully, play to his true potential," Shaharyar remarked.
Younis, who also joined Shaharyar at the evening session, looked fairly reluctant to divulge much before a gathering of hungry pressmen who hurled a volley of questions at the two.
"About my remarks, I have explained the situation to the PCB chairman and now it is up to him to comment on it,” said Younis. Defending his disastrous move, Younis said: “What happened in the morning was wrong. It should not have been so. The timing was, perhaps, not right because only one day is remaining for the team's departure to India. But I still stand by my early statement that I am not ready to become captain but as a player I am available for the team.”
"I have no charm for captaincy, and in the past too, I have always enjoy my game as an ordinary player," he added. "I am always ready to perform for the team and I will play with my full potential in the ICC Champions Trophy," Younis said.
The chairman was also not ready to comment on the matter, giving credence to speculations that there were factions in the team with many players unwilling to play under Younis’s captaincy. He, however, admitted that Younis's decision had damaged the spirit of Pakistan cricket team and it could not be justified in any way. “But we have taken the decision of sending him to India in the larger national interest.”
"I am hopeful the team will play with unity and will perform outstandingly. There will be ten teams participating in the ICC trophy and only one will win. Therefore, win or loss is not so important as the real thing is how the team performs and I have full confidence in my players", he said.
The chairman further explained that the decision to appoint Yousuf as captain was taken after consulting all members of the ad hoc committee.