To say Pakistan cricket is in crisis at the moment would be an understatement. After his team put up a listless performance against England on Sunday, Younis Khan delivered a post-match press conference that began with searing honesty but quickly turned bizarre.
Pakistan’s ragged fielding display came under the scanner, in the wake of four dropped catches and several bloopers by their players. “Our biggest worry is fielding. In every game, we have collapsed, failing to take our chances, dropping too many catches. Today we gave away 20-25 runs easily,” he admitted.
When asked why this was happening, Younis said, “Maybe it is pressure, they failed to pick the ball at the right time. We’ve worked hard on our fielding, but nothing seems to work.” He also admitted that fielding has been a chronic problem for Pakistan. “We are always like that. Fielding is all about the individual. We play in concrete grounds back home, but this is no excuse. We seriously need to improve our fielding.”
After three successive losses in the tournament, warm ups included, he chose to put the blame on the senior players. “Even with 6-7 years of international cricket, a senior player like Kamran Akmal somehow can’t handle responsibility. He scores a 20 and gets out. Our openers score two boundaries and get out. It’s time our senior players like Misbah [ul-Haq], [Shoaib] Malik, [Shahid] Afridi and myself come forward and perform.” If Pakistan were to go out before the Super Eights it would be a disaster for their passionate fans, who barely get to see their heroes play at the highest level. But Younis disagreed. “It won’t be a disaster for Pakistan. It is only T20 cricket. But, at the end of the day, it is only a fun game. It will be sad for us if we don’t make it to the Super Eights, not a disaster.” A reluctant opener himself, when Younis was asked if he’d open the batting next game, out came a quick response, “Why me? Why not Afridi or others?” When reminded of his experience at No. 3 Younis retorted, “Okay. I will open if you want me to.”
Come Tuesday, Pakistan’s fortunes could be decided either way — a ticket to the Super Eights, or a return ticket. For now, though — Younis has plenty to think about.