And he makes a lot of sense. Not the most eloquent stuff, but he treads close to what I’ve argued: first, cricket — and sport, generally — is hugely important to the fabric of a society, especially one as young as Pakistan’s. Cricket may not be a panacea for terrorism — if only — but I don’t think I’m being naive or stupid when I say it’s hugely important.
But more than that, Younis makes an emotionally compelling case as well. He talks of his own time as a youngster, when he watched Pakistan’s greats live:
When I was a boy, I loved watching Imran Khan, Javed Miandad and Wasim Akram playing against great teams from overseas. It is because of them – seeing them play – that I also played the game. But what if no one comes to Pakistan?
He also talks about the Woolmer incident. It’s clear now that that was the beginning of the end for Pakistani cricket. For a brief time, they had a more than capable coach, who was well-respected and seemed to get along with the team’s varying factions (excepting Shoaib, of course). Once he was gone — and then, once Inzamam went, and then, once the ICL broke the team and Yousuf left, and once Younis shunned the captaincy — nothing was the same.
Imagine how differently things might have turned out had Younis simply taken the reins when he could. Would he still be nostalgic and bereft? Would he still be talking of past greats, who clearly found few successors in succeeding generations?