Younus Khan is one of Pakistan’s most prolific batsmen. After the victory under legendary Imran Khan in World Cup 1992, Younus’ led Pakistan cricket team bring the second most important cricket trophy after winning World T20 Championship in 2009.
His inclusion in the World Cup 2015 squad has been considered obvious and very few pundits spoke against his selection. The reason behind this is perennial batting inconsistency in the team and lack of replacements.
Aged 37, Younus is expected to provide consistency to the team’s batting in testing Australia and New Zealand conditions during the World Cup, which begins February 14. Moreover, there could be many other rationale for keeping him in the World Cup side.
For instance Younus is one of the few players, who have performed well in Australia for Pakistan. Last year, Younus had been Pakistan’s propelling force when the team pulled historic Test series triumph against Australia in UAE.
But speculations were high that Younus would also retire from ODIs after World Cup just as his old buddies Shahid Afridi and Misbah-ul-Haq would. Afridi and Misbah, on separate occasions have made public their retirement plans after World Cup.
Swashbuckling all-rounder Afridi, who had already retired from Tests in 2010, said that he would continue to play T20s, where he leads the team. On the other hand, Misbah would continue to play Tests, where he might feel more comfortable and may be some fans as well, who tag him ‘Tuk Tuk’ for his slow approach to compile runs.
However, Younus dispelled the impression that he would be retiring from cricket anytime soon. He said that he would keep himself available till he is fit, in-form and there is hunger in him for the game.
Humble Younus added that he would be happy to be replaced by youngsters, who put better performances then him. He said he has no insecurities if youngsters come up and play and may have the potentials to take his place in future and eventually do so.
His rationale behind not retiring after World Cup is plausible, since a player or performer should step down or be replaced by a better player or at least a player, who could perform comparable to him.
However, when the structure of limited overs’ formats especially ODIs are taken into account, most of the cricket teams or boards carve long term plans. The most important element of planning is World Cup spectacle, which is cricket’s biggest event.
In 2015, Younus definitely deserves a place in the national playing-eleven, looking from Pakistan selectors’ lenses. His experience gives him edge over his rivals. But the question is whether he would be there in World Cup 2019. Probability of him being there, when he would be 41-year-old, is negligible.
Pakistan’s Cricket Board (PCB) having a legacy of ad-hoc policies and lack of foresightedness Younus, if he not retires, will continue to be a part of the team or at least be there occupying a spot on the replacement bench. Perhaps the board might be happy to have him after World Cup also since less effort would be required to select a team for upcoming events.
But if Younus retires along with Misbah and Afridi, a proper rebuilding process of Pakistan cricket team may automatically initiate. More batsmen may come under PCB think-tank radar. Middle-order benchers and newcomers will have a bit more hope of wearing national colors and there would be a bit more competition among those players. Among those, there could be a player/players, who would represent Pakistan in World Cup’s next edition and may be few more editions after that. Younus’ retirement might prove helpful in producing long-term middle-order batsman/batsmen for the team. Let us hope Younus thinks about this as well.