Home > Cricket News, icl info > Rebel league throws disgruntled Pakistani ace a lifeline

Rebel league throws disgruntled Pakistani ace a lifeline

Indian Cricket League has brought about a greater crisis in Pakistan than it has in Indian cricket.

The only players willing to risk a life ban from the Indian cricket board by signing with the ICL were those who had no realistic chance of playing for India. On the other hand, four active Pakistani players facing a similar threat of a ban signed ICL contracts, including star Mohammad Yousuf, who has a list of grievances against the Pakistan Cricket Board that includes being overlooked for the captaincy.

Ranked as the No. 2 batsman in the world, Yousuf is the record holder for the most runs scored in Test matches in a calendar year. Both his Test and ODI batting averages (56 and 41 runs per innings, respectively) are outstanding. He is undoubtedly the best player on the Pakistan team.

Formerly known as Yousuf Youhana, the humble and deeply religious batsman made the sign of the cross whenever he achieved any milestone on the field. Popular with his teammates and vital to his team’s fortunes, he rose to become the vice-captain and also led Pakistan when captain Inzamam ul-Haq was unavailable.

When Youhana converted to Islam and changed his name, cynics said it was because as a Christian he would never be appointed Pakistan captain. Youhana denied cricketing reasons with having anything to do with his conversion, but stated that his new religion had brought an inner peace that would only help his batting. And within months, Youhana went from a very good batsman to a great one.

The rise of Younis Khan, who exuded steely determination coupled with a joie de vivre, saw Youhana lose the vice-captaincy to the man who many saw as a great leader in the making. Then came the Bob Woolmer tragedy at the World Cup, ul-Haq’s resignation as captain and a disillusioned Younis Khan’s refusal to take over. Youhana threw his hat in the ring, but was passed over for Shoaib Malik, who represents a new, beardless face of Pakistani cricket.

During ul-Haq’s captaincy, the Pakistan team’s praying time was said to rival its practice time. Ul-Haq’s interviews mentioned God to the degree that it seemed he was accepting a Grammy Award for best R&B vocal performance.

The PCB wanted a change in direction with a new leader and the overtly religious Mohammad Yousuf clearly did not fit the bill. The irony is that as a Christian, Yousuf had a better shot at becoming Pakistan captain than as a practising Muslim.

And while it is easy to get caught up in this kind of intrigue, the reality is that Yousuf has never been captaincy material. Yousuf’s butterfingered fielding and indifferent approach to training were hardly inspiring. His gentle personality also hindered his ability to whip a team of egos into shape. These shortcomings were ultimately the reasons Yousuf was overlooked for the captaincy. He cannot, however, be lost as a player.

Fortunately, there is a way back.

While the world media has repeatedly presented the PCB position as one where any Pakistani player who signs with the ICL faces a life ban, the actual PCB position is that a life ban will be only be handed out to contracted players who play in the ICL. Yousuf never did sign a PCB contract and technically is eligible for selection.

In fact, when awarding central contracts the PCB has always reiterated that non-contracted players can still be called up for national duty. It is a fortuitous technicality, provided sanity prevails in the often insane world of Pakistani cricket.

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Categories: Cricket News, icl info
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