Tag: Younus Khan (page 1 of 2)

The pressure builds – a four-Test story of two opposing batsmen

Photo by Sarah Ansell

Photo by Sarah Ansell

One is English, one is Pakistani. One is young, one is old – or at least he is in cricketing terms. For much of last summer’s Test series between England and Pakistan, Alex Hales and Younus Khan trod a similar path. Come the last Test, their journeys diverged markedly.

Hales was relatively new to Test cricket and still struggling to make an impact. Arriving at The Oval, his scores in the series read 6, 16, 10, 24, 17, 54 for an average of 21.16.

Younus was coming to the end of his career. His scores were 33, 25, 1, 28, 31, 4 for an average of 20.33.

Different situations but similar pressure. Both faced the prospect of losing their places in their respective teams.

What happened next feels significant.

Hales’ tale

Hales’ fourth Test scores – 6 and 12 – do not tell the story. In the first innings, he hit the ball in the air towards Yasir Shah – a man seemingly possessed of those precious fielding utensils, the safe pair of hands.

It was a contentious catch. Yasir said he took it. After being given out, Hales said plenty of things himself.

Nor did it end there. Hales continued to express himself to the full during an uninvited visit to the third umpire and then delivered a ‘boo hoo hoo’ mime to Azhar Ali when Pakistan were batting.

What can we glean from Hales’ Portrait of the Artist as a Petulant Young Man? The main thing all of his actions have in common is that they are targeted at other people. He appeared to blame Yasir for claiming the catch, the umpire for making the wrong decision and Azhar Ali for playing for the wrong team. Seemingly unable to control his own batting, he embarked on a futile quest to influence the world around him.

Younus calm

Contrast this with Younus. In the words of Mohammad Azharuddin – the man whose advice ultimately rescued him – Younus was batting “like a joker” during this series. That’s an unusually accurate use of the word, because the batsman was indeed a laughing stock.

As he jumped around the crease, people flitted between labelling his performances as either comical or sad.

Younus was on the way out and he was on the way out leaving an inadvertent trail of excrement. However, while Hales seems uncertain of his place in the world, Younus is not. Younus wasn’t going to let a trivial little thing like everyone else in the entire world thinking he’d had it put him off. He knew it didn’t look it, but he reckoned he was only  a whisker away from playing as well as he normally does. And so it proved.

“Stay in your crease,” said Azharuddin. “Wait for the ball to come to you.”

“Okay,” said Younus. “I’ll give that a try.”

After a couple of overs, things felt better. “Yup, seems to be working,” he said. “Guess I’ll crack on and make a double hundred now.”

What is this reslience; this imperviousness to the views of the outside world? Is it a deep reservoir of confidence borne of years of success or is it innate? Which comes first? Do you earn the right to have that trust in yourself or is it the very thing that allows you to be so effective in the first place?

Perhaps it’s both. Batting is a fragile profession. On these fine margins the difference can lie.

No, turns out Younus Khan is retiring after all

Photo by Sarah Ansell

Photo by Sarah Ansell

Love reporting on Pakistan cricketer retirements.

After floating the idea that he might play on if someone asked him to, Younus Khan has now deployed a magnificent barrage of third-personnery to confirm that he really will retire.

“Younus Khan will retire even if he scores a hundred in every innings of every match against West Indies. Please don’t doubt Younus Khan’s credibility and support Pakistan. Pray for Younus Khan and for Pakistan that we can win a Test series for the very first time in West Indies.”

As for why he reached this conclusion, perhaps there was a hint from the press conference he called to announce this particular retirement earlier in the month.

Asked whether he might change his mind, he said: “This will be a U-turn and then people will call me U-turn.”

No-one wants to be called U-Turn – or even You-Turn, which, with hindsight, would have been quite a good nickname.

Younus Khan, the world’s oldest 39-year-old, might yet play on

Photo by Sarah Ansell

Photo by Sarah Ansell

Ain’t no retirement like a Pakistan cricketer retirement, because a Pakistan cricketer retirement is highly conditional.

For a man who’s already resigned, quit, been rested, stood down, walked and been banned for life, Younus Khan is still strikingly present.

He is due to call it a day (again) following this Test series against the West Indies, but has now floated the possibility that he might play on if someone – anyone – asks him to.

“If they request me or people want me then why not?”

Well we’d quite like you to play on, Younus.

It’s worth mentioning at this point that not only is Younus 39, he’s also the world’s oldest 39-year-old, having been born in 1975.

Younus Khan knows what he’s doing – even if it doesn’t look like it

Younus Khan (via YouTube)

We really wanted Younus Khan to get runs in this Test. A lot of commentators who have at no point in their lives been able to bat even half as well as him have not just been criticising his batting during this series, but actually making fun of it. We’ve found that a bit unsavoury.

Younus has his own way of doing things and if it looks fairly stupid then so much the better as far as we’re concerned. The fact that he can quite literally make runs batting on one leg – or occasionally while airborne – is a large part of his appeal. It adds to his brilliance that he should be able to shepherd so many moving parts and compel them to deliver perfect timing. A number of England players couldn’t even coordinate two hands to wrap around a ball when it came in their direction.

When a Pakistan player drops to his hands and knees in the wake of some sort of achievement, you can never be quite sure which way it’s going to go nowadays. Younus spurned the press-ups in favour of a turf kiss. So did Asad Shafiq a little earlier in the day. Their demeanours were different, but three figures seemed to mean a lot to both of them.

Airborne Younus Khan

Younus Khan’s record is even more remarkable when you consider that he seemingly makes contact with most deliveries while airborne. We made this observation on Twitter and Karthik pointed us in the direction of the Airborne Younis Khan Tumblr, which is rather delightful (and also reminds us of a time when the internet was a joyous land of minutiae rather than whatever the hell it is now).

We half suspect that Younus has mastered batting to such an extent that he deliberately hops around to try and hoodwink the bowlers into thinking they’re getting somewhere. However, it seems more likely that his compulsion to launch himself skywards is a genuine reaction when he’s troubled.

“This particular delivery hasn’t bounced exactly as I expected to,” he appears to think in the split second between the ball pitching and arriving. “I’d better climb into the air,” he then concludes.

‘In the air’ isn’t a conventionally secure place from which to play a dangerous delivery, but it seems to work for Younus.

Mop-up of the day – Younus Khan’s bat and Murali’s balls

Younus Khan’s just made his third Test hundred on the bounce. We mentioned that he was underrated after the first one. Let’s revisit that.

We all know Younus averages some way north of 50 and that he’s now made Test hundreds against every nation, but let’s dig a little deeper. Last time we mentioned that only 19 of his 93 Tests have been played truly at home and that hints at what’s so great about him. He’s adaptable.

The first of this trio of hundreds saw him construct non-scoring foundations for his innings. Since then, he’s become ever-more expansive. This third hundred came off 128 balls.

But it’s conditions as well. Not only has Younus scored a hundred against every Test-playing nation, he’s also scored one in every country bar Australia, where he’s only played three matches. Only in South Africa and the West Indies does he average less than 40 and only in the Windies does he average less than 30. There are always gaps and that’s some CV.


Midway through our Cricinfo piece about how Pakistan and Australia have prepared for this Test, we poked fun at Australia’s tendency to believe that their success is directly linked to how attacking they are. It was therefore quite amusing to see that they’d tweaked their team and brought Glenn Maxwell in to bat at number three.

Maybe it’ll work.

Murali’s balls

YouTube can make wasters of us all, but every now and again a long shift is justified when you catch a glimpse of what must rank as being one of the all-time great cricket banners.


Pakistan thrive on hardship and chaos

Younus Khan has a stab at smilingPakistan. Is there any sporting team in the world for which the link between sound preparation and performance is less meaningful?

Having lost what was arguably the best new ball attack of its time as a result of that spot fixing thing, Pakistan rebuilt their bowling around Saeed Ajmal. Being as he’s been banned for chucking, they have now been forced to field an attack where the four main bowlers boast eight Test matches between them.

Needless to say, they’re absolutely battering Australia.

Australia’s first innings 303 hinted that maybe the pitch was deteriorating. Pakistan’s second innings 286-2 rebuffed that. Pakistan’s batting has been dire for the last few years but it has just managed 700-odd runs for the loss of 12 wickets.

Younus Khan has spent most of the build-up to this series maintaining a gold standard strop about being dropped from the one-day side.

“Don’t select me, not even in Tests – I sacrifice my future,” he said a couple of weeks ago. Today he scored his second hundred of the match.

Australia are currently 59-4 chasing 438 and will almost certainly win.

Younus Khan is still around

Younus Khan has a stab at smilingFor a man with 21 Test hundreds and an average of over 50 who’s also been involved in his fair share of drama, Younus Khan can be surprisingly low profile. That said, your singy, shouty ‘look at me’ types tend to lack inner steel. Younus is far too busy getting the job done to bother with fripperies like talking or showing any kind of emotion whatsoever.

People often talk about how much they like a certain cricketer ‘because he always plays with a smile on his face’.

No. Wrong.

If you’re supporting a team, it’s actually very reassuring to see that somebody’s taking the job really bloody seriously indeed. We don’t want to see a batsman aiming a wild swish at a wide one and then grinning sheepishly. We want to see him leaving it alone while sporting a face like thunder. Younus Khan delivers in that regard.

He’s also turned a potentially dull South African cakewalk into a Test match and for that he and Asad Shafiq should be thanked. At 33-4, it seemed like a simultaneously spectacular and yawnsome rehash of the first Test, in which Pakistan were bowled out for 49. Instead, we have a cricket match which will hold the interest for a good while yet. Their stand of 219 should also be viewed in light of the fact that when they came together, a repeat humiliation seemed not just likely, but probable.

Yousuf and Younus AREN’T banned for life

Even by Pakistan’s standards this must be some kind of a record.

After claiming to be on very firm ground with the punishments they’d doled out, the Pakistan Cricket Board has now said that actually what may have sounded like a life ban was no such thing. Mohammad Yousuf and Younus Khan are actually eligible for selection “as and when the PCB deems appropriate” – which will hopefully be in time for their next match.

Maybe they never meant it. Maybe they were misunderstood. Maybe their new coach, Waqar Younis, has thrown a fit. Maybe it’s all a big post-modern joke at the media’s expense.

Whatever it is, Rana Naved still doesn’t know what he’s done to get banned for a year.

Life bans for Mohammad Yousuf and Younus Khan?

Banning Pakistan cricketers for in-fighting? It’s like firing a computer programmer for being interested in Star Wars. Some things just come with the territory.

With Mohammad Yousuf and Younus Khan banned for life, there’s every chance that one of them might not play in the Test series against Australia this summer, which would be disappointing because they’re far and away Pakistan’s best batsmen. The wording is that they ‘should not be part of the national team’ though, which almost implies that they could be – unless it’s a would/will type thing again.

It seems to be a massive overreaction, but the feeling in Pakistan is that it is drawing a line under player indiscipline. It’s basically saying to the players:

“You’re all being complete dicks almost all of the time. You have to stop. This is what acting like a dick gets you, so don’t do it. If everyone’s being a dick all the time, that’s more damaging than losing all our senior players. That’s how serious being a dick is. Okay? Now belt up and play some cricket.”

That’s how we’re reading it anyway.

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