What’s the story?
Veteran Pakistan batsman Younis Khan said that he was willing to reconsider his decision to retire from international cricket after the upcoming Test series against the West Indies should the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) and his teammates make a request to carry on playing for the country.
Announcing his decision at a press conference in Lahore two weeks ago, the 39-year-old had remained adamant that he would stick to his retirement plans in spite of Test skipper Misbah-ul-Haq making a similar call just days ago.
However, with the pleas of supporters, who fear that the Pakistan Test side would become very weak without their two batting mainstays over the past decade, refusing to die down, the right-hander has now laid down the conditions based on which he would be open to changing his mind.
"Yeah, I will think about it," Younis told cricket.com.au. "It all depends on if my team needs me. If they request me or people want me then why not? But it all depends on my team."
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Following a 3-0 Test series whitewash at the hands of Australia Down Under, skipper Misbah-ul-Haq had announced that he would be retiring from international cricket after the Test series against West Indies that got underway at Jamaica on Friday.
While Misbah’s retirement from the game has been coming for quite some time, Younis’ sudden announcement did come as a shock to many. With his stellar knock of 175 at the SCG, Younis had become the first and only cricketer to register Test centuries in 11 different countries.
Interestingly, after the epic knock, Younis had claimed that his future would depend on what the team needed from him. And based on the pleas that have come his way following the announcement that he would retire, albeit mostly from the fans and not the players, the veteran cricketer is willing to give it a second thought after all.
The heart of the matter
Younis might be 39, but he is looking incredibly fit and the manner in which he has managed to prolong his Test career has drawn appreciation from pundits across the world. He has been in reasonable form as well, playing a stellar role in Pakistan’s 2-2 draw against England in 2016 that helped the Asian side reach the top of the ICC Test rankings.
So it was hardly surprising that eyebrows were raised when Younis made the announcement citing a lack of fitness and motivation. With Misbah finally walking away at the age of 42, Pakistan would need a leader like Younis to help the side move forward without their talismanic skipper.
Now that he has hinted at a willingness to carry on, a lot will depend on how well he plays against the West Indies with the tour to the ever-improving Bangladesh lined up for Pakistan following the ICC Champions trophy event in June. A final decision on whether he will carry on will of course depend upon the player as well as chief selector Inzamam-ul-Haq, who is understood to be keen at infusing youth into the Pakistan side sooner rather than later.
The former Pakistan skipper has had several run-ins with the PCB in the past over disciplinary issues and he did make some indirect references about the same during his press conference while conveying the decision to retire after the West Indies series.
Younis, along with Mohammad Yousuf, was axed by the PCB for an indefinite period in 2010 following an investigation into allegations that the duo were inciting infighting within the side. The manner in which he stepped down as skipper of the national side in 2009 was also acrimonious with Younis claiming that he had lost command of his side.
So it would be interesting to see the reactions which will come in over the next few days in response to Younis’ recent comments.
Younis is no doubt one of Pakistan’s greatest ever Test cricketer and is just 23 runs shy of reaching the landmark of 10000 Test runs. With an influential player like Misbah certain to walk away after the series against West Indies, it would certainly help the Pakistan side if someone as important as Younis wouldn’t follow suit.
Given the frailties in the batting department, Pakistan needs Younis’ presence to help them out going forward and with the kind of form he is in as well as the manner in which he has remained fit, there’s no reason why he shouldn’t carry on playing for quite some time more.