Younus Khan’s retirement after Pakistan’s series against the Windies will see one of the last true greats of the last 20-years, and perhaps the most undervalued and underrated, finally leave the game.
Pakistan’s leading Test run-scorer is rarely mentioned in the company of other legends – which is both surprising and unfair.
He doesn’t have the flair of Brian Lara, so he doesn’t get bums on seats.
He doesn’t have the signature shots of Ricky Ponting, so he doesn’t make your jaw drop.
Nor does he have the technique of Rahul Dravid, so coaches won’t teach his method to the next generation.
Younus is scrappy, hap-hazard and unorthodox. But what got him through was his mind.
His feet might not have been moving.
Maybe he played a missed a few times.
Maybe he nearly ran out three of his partners.
It didn’t matter. He always pushed through. And when he reached yet another scruffy century it must have driven the fielding side to distraction.
In some respects, Younus’s game-plan was to lure the opposition into a false sense of security.
He made them think that they could get him out because his technique had so many holes.
If that was his plan it was a clever one. It allowed him to be the perfect decoy for Pakistan’s more flamboyant or technically assured batsmen:
At one end you had Younus jumping around and flapping outside off stump. At the other you had greats like Mohammed Yousuf or Inzamam Ul Haq caressing the ball effortlessly; or in more recent times Misbah crashing the ball to the boundary.
Younus is the scrappy supplement to his aesthetically pleasing colleagues – but this isn’t meant to be patronising. Nor is it meant to imply that he only had success because of others.
Ahead of the West Indies series he averages 53 in over 115 Tests, which is absolutely phenomenal. He actually has a higher average than both Inzamam (50) and Yousuf (52). Currently he stands on 9977 Test runs – so barring a rotten series he should become the first Pakistani to reach the historic 10,000 mark.
Younus will also go down as having an exceptional conversion rate – a testament to his reliability. Thus far he’s scored 34 centuries and 32 fifties. Not many batsmen retire with more hundreds than fifties. Sachin had 51 tons to 68 fifties, Kallis 45 to 58, and so on. What’s more 19 of Younus’s centuries have been in a winning cause.
He scores important runs, and no more so was this apparent than in the U.A.E. In his 27 Tests in Pakistan’s adopted home, he’s cracked 11 centuries and seven fifties.
When he finally hangs up his boots, Pakistan are going to lose a character and a leader.
They are going to lose their leading run scorer and possibly their best ever and most reliable performer.
International cricket will also be poorer for his departure. Younus has been a remarkable player and a true modern great.