On Twitter (my new obsession), there was speculation the Pakistan Cricket Board would quickly panic if the national team’s batting failed again in the Test match against England. Mohammad Yousuf, by far Pakistan’s best batsman of the past few years, would be shipped off on a first-class plane to save the team.
I’m opposed to the move. Generally, I don’t like mid-tour replacements; they tend to be rash and unproductive. (I still remember the Indian team drafting in V.V.S. Laxman during their disastrous ODI campaign in South Africa. Laxman, only hours off the plane, didn’t hit double digits.) Selected players feel resentful — and rightly so — since they were not given the chance to prove themselves.
In this case, it would be particularly bad because, according to all the leaked information, Yousuf is a very weird and angry man. Even if you don’t believe the revelations that emerged during the Australia investigation, his calculated decision to retire (for now) and then, less than a few months later, make himself available again, reveal just a tad what this guy is like. So what do you do: pick talent over your team? Because adding Yousuf to this team might be just enough to send it completely down the drain.
I say, leave him out of it. You picked a young team, and even if they can’t handle Jimmy Anderson on his birthday, show some faith. And teach Yousuf a much-needed lesson in humility — or, at least, what the word “retirement” means.