Pakistan One Day International captain Azhar Ali stumped. Or so we assume. A few hours before the first ODI between Pakistan and England at Zayed Stadium Abu Dhabi, Test batsman Younis Khan threw a curveball. He announced his ODI retirement. To say the media were also caught on the back foot, is an understatement.
Only twenty four hours earlier, a congenial Azhar Ali was facing his first UAE press conference as captain. Suffice to say, the majority of the questions thrown his way were about Younis Khan’s controversial inclusion in the ODI squad. Even after a stellar performance in the just completed Test series, rumours abound of coach Waqar Younis and captain Azhar Ali not really wanting him in the ODI squad.
However, former NCA Head Coach and current commentator Mohammed Akram refuted this, saying “I know Waqar Younis has a lot of respect for his talent and Azhar Ali also feels he stabilises the middle order.”
Speaking to ARY News a day before the sudden announcement, Younis Khan was firm about one thing. “When I retire, it will be on my own terms and not when someone else tells me to do so.”
Commentator Rameez Raja questioned the timing of the announcement, but praised Younis Khan for his immense contribution to Pakistani cricket and said players’ minds work differently when making significant decisions. David Lloyd was vocal about his admiration for the batsman, saying “He is a magnificent player and a nice person.”
Commentary box persona Bazid Khan however, had a less diplomatic viewpoint. “Younis Khan wants to be remembered as a team player but announcing his retirement a few hours before the first ODI, is not consistent with being a team player.”
However he may be remembered by his cricket board and fellow team mates, Younis Khan’s Test statistics are what elevates him in fans’ minds. With regards to his talent and on-field decorum, respect is a word often used by the international cricketing community. In the end, he retired on his own terms.