ROSEAU: It remains one of the most enduring what-ifs of Younis Khan’s career: what if, in November 2009, he had not upped and left the captaincy? Where would he, and Pakistan cricket, be now had he continued?
Pakistan cricket is no longer as obsessed with that one, in light of the successes of the eventual beneficiary of that decision, Misbah-ul-Haq. But the question has hounded Younis’ career since, up to and including this, his last series.
And now, as he steps away from international cricket as Pakistan’s most prolific Test batsman, it seems he has found closure. “People say to me, you should’ve done more captaincy,” he told ESPNcricinfo.
“But I think whatever happens, happens for the best. Had I been captain maybe I wouldn’t have scored all these runs. People think that maybe I carry these regrets, but no. Had I done more, who knows whether I would be where I am today? If I had been captain for so long, maybe I would’ve been too distracted by other duties to score as many runs as I did.”
Despite leading Pakistan to the World Twenty20 title in 2009, Younis’ experience with the captaincy has been difficult. He turned it down first in 2007, having been groomed for it. In late 2006, as an interim captain, he had given it up in anger, only to accept it back a day later. When he resigned in 2009, it was under the weight of, effectively, a player revolt. And yet, over the last couple of years, he has spoken of another tilt at the captaincy, talk that has been encouraged by people around him.
Certainly it is difficult to imagine him having done better as a batsman. Though his last series was a poor one, under Misbah’s captaincy, Younis scored nearly 5000 runs and more than doubled his century count: 18 in 53 Tests (16 in 65 before). It is a run that has established him as, arguably, Pakistan’s greatest Test batsman and one of the finest from anywhere in the modern age.
“All the cricket I’ve played – for club, department, association, county, in Australia, wherever – when I’m gone if you ask any of them, they won’t be able to say that Younis Khan left something in the tank. I gave 200% everywhere I played.
“Two-three years ago, I was about to retire but I got the motivation to try and get to 10,000 runs. As a captain, player, junior, senior, I put it all out there, whatever I had. Whatever I could, with bat, ball, in the field. No regrets either. We won a world title, we beat Australia, leveled a series in England. We performed, I performed so there’s nothing left that I really wanted to do.”
So much does he feel he has given to the game that, unlike Misbah, he does not foresee a post-retirement attachment within the game. When he became captain in 2009, he had spoken keenly of helping set up a players’ association, something Pakistan’s cricketers have never known. That is not, for now, on the agenda.
“Believe me – I think, in all, I’ve given 27-28 years of my life to cricket. So I have nothing in my mind about any future plans to get back into cricket. I don’t know if I’ll have any energy left after I leave to give to cricket.
“A players’ association should happen for sure, but I don’t think I have the energy to be able to do something like this. We should do this, and if others start it up, then I will stand by them for sure.”
One thing he will be doing plenty of is fishing, a pastime in which he often sought refuge during his career. “A lot of the dreams I had which I couldn’t get to while I was playing, I will now pursue. People think you achieve all of them in your career but actually this is a new career starting for me now.” Agencies