PCB could lift Yousuf and Younis ‘indefinite’ bans soon
How do you solve a mess like Pakistani cricket? Well apparently it involves banning your two finest batsmen indefinitely and handing out a whole host of fines, suspensions and probations to five other squad members.
Wednesday’s decisions were made following the results of an inquiry into the team’s farcical efforts in Australia this winter, where they lost each of the nine internationals played.
The report, which the Pakistan Cricket Board have refused to release into the public domain, examined the supposedly crippling infighting and power grappling which has undermined the team’s efforts in the past few years.
“Mohammad Yousuf and Younis Khan, keeping in view their infighting which resulted in bringing down the whole team, their attitude has a trickledown effect which is a bad influence for the whole team should not be part of national team in any format,” said a statement from the PCB.
And Ijaz Butt, the PCB chairman told the BBC that: “When one was captain he threw the other out, when the other was the captain he threw the other man out in spite of the fact that they would have been selected.”
Such a brutal player cull is unprecedented, even in the permanently tumultuous world of Pakistani cricket.
Some of the player conduct in Australia - particularly Shahid Afridi’s inexplicable ball biting fiasco - was at best regrettable and at worst utterly deplorable, and it could well be the case that internal discipline is now far beyond repair that excluding Younis and Yousuf is simply unavoidable.
But in purely cricketing terms it may be a disastrous decision and one fears for the team they will scramble together to face England and Australia in England in just a few months time. The PCB have blithely dismissed this issue citing the number of talented youngsters throughout the country, but there is no substitute for experience, particularly in the Test arena
In the meantime Pakistan will attempt to defend their World T20 title in the Caribbean this May with a squad including Afridi and the Akaml brothers, Kamran and Umar, who were both also fined for supposedly destabilising the team.
No captain has been named however, and it will be interesting to see how that particular scenario develops now that an experienced player with a clean slate has become a rare commodity.
Financially, the PCB are now effectively the players’ only paymasters after the IPL franchises controversially shunned the chance to bid for the Pakistani’s offered to them in February. As a consequence, there is unlikely to be a player-led backlash against the PCB and the likelihood is that we will see most of the shamed stars again in the near future.
And what of Yousuf and Younis?
Well if the last few years are anything to go by, there is still a long way to go in this sage. Neither is a spent force and at just 32, Younis in particular should still be at his peak.
And for all its posturing the PCB has been keen to stress that neither player has been handed a life ban, merely an indefinite one.
A window of opportunity then for a triumphant return, possibly in time to play against Australia? You wouldn’t bet against it.