With a record like his, why was Younus Khan excluded from the PSL?
As many as 98 players have been picked by five franchises for the inaugural Pakistan Super League (PSL). The tournament promises to be an exciting event. Out of the three formats of cricket, in T20 cricket, it is not likely that every player gets an opportunity to bat and ball in one game. The format is fast and one good performance can change the whole game more often, as compared to Test or ODI cricket. Fielding and fast-paced nature of the format means that fitness is essential.
Younus’s past year or so has been loaded with Test runs along with outbursts in the media, thus he has every reason to be disappointed. He was the man who led Pakistan to a World title in this format in 2009 after terming T20 cricket as “fun” cricket at the start of the tournament. At the end of the tournament, that win meant so much to him that he retired from T20 internationals. However, he did return to the format in late 2010 and played under the captaincy of Shahid Afridi in a bid to get maximum match practice before the 2011 World Cup, as he had missed a lot of matches from late 2009 to 2010.
He also fulfilled his wish of retiring on his own terms from ODIs recently. Although he is rightly called a legend and Pakistan’s most successful Test batsman, he is criticised for his batting in the limited-overs formats. It is true that he may not have the six-hitting power of Afridi or Misbahul Haq, but there are many other players picked in the PSL who are not as good as Younus, even in T20s.
His T20 average and strike rate are way better than Azhar Ali’s, and add to that his vast experience, fitness, running between the wickets and fielding makes him beyond comparison. And rightly so, he does not like to be compared.
Having said that, his disappointment is justified as he has hardly missed any domestic game, and unfortunately, now he has to miss the first PSL. We should remember his dedication when it comes to participating in all formats in domestic cricket. He gives his 100 per cent when playing for his department or region in any part of Pakistan. He is currently playing for United Bank and has hit 197. His last T20 innings was an unbeaten 31 off 18 balls for Abbottabad. Hence, for Younus, it is not easy to digest having no role in the PSL when his seniors are in the management and his juniors are playing.
It can be argued that picking players is more of a business decision and no one is bound to buy players out of respect. That aside, he has had an uneasy encounter with Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) on this issue as well. He lashed out for not being invited by the PCB at the PSL launch ceremony, claiming it’s a clear message that he will not be a part of PSL. Although he was named in the platinum category, he was unhappy for not being named as an icon player and was expecting to be named as a captain or a mentor for one of the franchise.
Apart from Younus, it was not so pleasing to see players like Saeed Ajmal and Abdul Razzaq being named in the supplementary category. Even Umar Gul, the most successful fast bowler in T20 internationals, was in the gold category. Legends like Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene were not on the priority lists of buyers, because these players would be giving preference to Masters Cricket League (MCL) over PSL.
It’s understandable that it’s not easy to strike a balance on picking big names of international cricket, players who would be available throughout, giving local youngsters an opportunity, trying players to see who is best for selection for Pakistan and achieving the commercial benefits.
However, the debate of curtailing player power and giving players their due respect is still unsettled in Pakistan cricket regardless of whoever is responsible. Undoubtedly, a player like Younus Khan deserves some kind of a role in the exhilarating league.
The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.