Younis Khan: “I want my people, my critics, my followers, I want them to know that whenever I played cricket I played for my team and my country” © AFP
Younis Khan will play on for Pakistan for as long as the side needs him, dousing speculation about his immediate future, unlike that of the side’s captain Misbah-ul-Haq.
Talk of retirement has not attached itself to Younis through the series as resolutely as it has done to Misbah. It has done so more by association – because he is 39 to Misbah’s 42.
But a lack of a big innings meant that Pakistan’s leading Test run-getter had speculative questions and barbs thrown in his direction. That has been addressed for now with an unbeaten 175 in Sydney.
“It all depends [his future plans],” Younis said. “I don’t want to give a surprise where I come and say suddenly I’m going, or that I’m playing for the next five years.
“It all depends on my team and what they want from me. That’s the main thing for me. I’m very near to 10,000 runs and it will be a big achievement for a Pakistani. If you see that list there is no Pakistani who has made that.
“So it all depends on my team, the PCB and how they want me. I will be in touch with them and as they tell me, what kind of energy and what they need from me, from that I will decide how long to play. My body is giving me a good response at the moment.”
Younis is 36 runs short of that landmark and it is one, as he has made clear in the past as well, that is important to him. If he fails to get there in Pakistan’s second innings, his next opportunity will come in March this year when Pakistan tour the Caribbean to play four Tests. As per the Future Tours Programme, Pakistan tour Bangladesh for a couple of Tests in July and then host Sri Lanka for three Tests in the UAE. The likelihood of a tour to India at the end of the year is minimal, as relations stand now between the countries.
Younis wanting to continue should be music to Pakistan coach Mickey Arthur’s ears. Asked earlier in the series about the future of the two veterans, Arthur said in an ideal world he would want the pair to stagger their exits, so as not to leave too big a hole in Pakistan’s middle order. Misbah, with 38 runs in five innings so far, would appear to be closer to the exit. Younis has been a hugely influential figure in the dressing room as a batting mentor to the likes of Azhar Ali and Asad Shafiq.
“I have learned so much from him and Misbah-ul-Haq throughout my career,” Azhar said on Thursday of this mentorship. “They both are mentally very tough. What I have learned from Younis is how to keep focus and be relaxed when you are going through a hard time. There are so many innings that I have played would have not been possible without him. Hopefully he can carry on and keep playing for Pakistan as long as he can and share his experience with the more guys who are coming into the team. That will be really helpful. He has not just made my career good, there are lot of other players who benefited from him. He has given lot of advices to us.”
Despite sitting on top of the list of the most successful Pakistani batsmen judged on most metrics, Younis doesn’t believe he is the greatest his country has produced. “I can’t feel that I am the greatest player ever from Pakistan. In that list, Javed Miandad is there, Zaheer Abbas is there. Lots of great players. Inzamam is there also. I don’t feel I am the greatest ever batsman in Pakistan but I want my people, my critics, my followers, I want them to know that whenever I played cricket I played for my team and my country. That is more important for me. When I leave the field, when I will retire, it is my wish that they remember me as a fighter who fought for his country and his team-mates.”
Osman Samiuddin is a senior editor at ESPNcricinfo
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Source: ESPN Crickinfo