Younis Khan has always struck me as a reasonable, easygoing guy, which is why his very public outburst seemed uncharacteristic and immature. While I certainly don't condone his behaviour, the Pakistan team management certainly had it coming. If anyone had treated me as shabbily as they have Younis, I would certainly have punched a member of the team's think-tank.
He is the most selfless and accommodating cricketer to play for Pakistan, and has been shunted around for the last four years. Earlier this year, he was batting at number six and seven against In dia in the one-dayers, even though he was the highest run-getter in the Tests. I have repeatedly said that he should be Pakistan's number three, but Woolmer and Inzamam refused to see sense. In England, he was finally sent in at number three and the result was a Man of the Series award. I remember he was dropped in 2004 for the Tests against India, based on a slump in one-day form. Younis has been so shabbily treated since his debut, that it almost seems like there's a conspiracy against him. But he is a jovial, positive person and has taken these setbacks with equanimity.
Younis was right when he said that he was being treated as a dummy captain. The management and the PCB knew that Inzamam would be banned, so they should have involved Younis in the selection process. In cricket, the captain always bears the brunt of a failed campaign, and it is patently unfair to Younis that he was handed over a team and told to lead it.
The good news is that the players have accepted Younis as the captain and I am sure that once they cross the boundary line, these issues will be the last things on their mind. Mohammed Yousuf, now vice-captain, is also a mature cricketer and since the two go back a long way, I don't think there will be any bad blood between the two Ys.
The only setback for Pakistan is the absence of Inzamam-ulHaq, the batsman. Inzamam the batsman is still a positive, solid and important figure in the lineup. Inzamam the captain, however, is defensive and laidback, which is why Younis has more potential as a leader. He is involved, energetic and aggressive. He may miss the services of Danish Kaneria in such conditions, particularly since it is still quite warm in India. Most of the batsmen have a good record in India, and seeing the balance of the side I think they will do well. The only area of concern is the failure of Woolmer to come up with a viable opening combination. I blame the coach for this because his job is to strategise and he has not come up with a good opening combination after two years in the job.
It's sad for the Pakistan team that they are vying for attention with the PCB. The board has been functioning in the most arbitrary manner possible since 1999. It's just another Pakistani institution that lacks a democratic foundation and functions without constitutional sanction.
We must be the only country in the world that has its cricket chief hand-picked by the president — Shaharyar Khan was his nomination and so is the new incumbent.
These gentlemen then choose a team that has no roots in cricket, resulting in no change in the system at the domestic level.
Since ancillary associations do not elect the officials, they don't know where their duties start and end. For instance, I did not see why Shaharyar was addressing the press and taking stage during The Oval fiasco — that was the team manager's job.
But then, the erstwhile PCB chief had never thought of getting a constitution in place, so he knew he could do as he wished. As long as Pakistan's president picks the PCB chief, it will be run like a dictatorship. Pakistan cricket has always done well despite the system and not because of it. The system sucks, but Younis Khan's team might still do well in the Champions Trophy.