Finally the PCB did what was required, and it took a Presidential order for it to happen. Shoaib Malik is captain no more, and Younis Khan has taken over the role. The woes Pakistan faced during Malik’s tumultuous tenure cannot be forgotten, but it is hoped the PCB can learn from its mistakes and will not promote people like Malik in this way in the future.
So what can we expect from Younis? According to the man himself, we cannot expect miracles. Younis’s press conference shortly after his appointment was actually not very encouraging for the Pakistani fan. Younis called on his players to unite for one purpose and to raise their “magic wands”, and he did not suggest anything different he would do himself to transform the problems into the solutions. Yet, Malik’s reign of stupidity and had left such a bad taste in the mouth of cricket fans, that Younis’s appointment was celebrated with rapture.
Personality wise, Younis is known to be a happy-go-lucky individual.
He is a good motivator and a team man. His passion for the country and his commitment to the team has never been in doubt, but he has the propensity to appear cheerful and unagitated even in the direst of circumstances. However, somewhere behind the cheerful visage, there lies a temperamental individual who can sometimes behave unreasonably. Younis’s altercation with Shaharyar Khan led to the latter’s resignation as Chairman PCB, and Younis has also refused captaincy twice, much to the disappointment of his fans. This time, Younis apparently sensed the team was in desperate need of a strong leader, and has accepted the position without any tough demands. There are many who will doubt it, but this is what is being reported by the press.
What makes Younis different from Malik is that Younis has an automatic place in both the ODI and Test teams, and on the basis of seniority Younis commands more respect than Malik.
There are numerous challenges that lie before Younis. Firstly, he needs to make the team united, no matter what it takes. This in turn will improve the team morale and confidence. Malik’s reign as captain saw the flourishing of factions and divisions in the team, that often showed when the players were on the field. Younis can achieve these objectives by equal treatment of all players. He will have to initiate an “open door” policy with seniors and juniors alike, and he will have to treat his colleagues the same way he would like to be treated.
The second challenge before Younis
will be to identify the match winners in his team and encourage them by any means necessary. Pakistan needs consistent match winners but for that a confident and proactive captain is needed, someone who is not always worried about his own performances, but plays a part in making other players more consistent and better at what they do. This is particularly important in relation to the opening slot. Younis must offer chances to players like Nasir Jamshed and encourage them endlessly.
Finally, Younis needs to instill aggression into the minds of his players, but that aggression must also be complemented by proactive field placing and body language. He must instill the culture that Dhoni has instilled in his men: to enjoy the game and not be afraid of losing, but being afraid of not trying your best.
Towards the end, I want to say a few words for Shoaib Malik. Malik may have tried his best, but he was not captaincy material. In my opinion his limited overs batting performance is satisfactory, although he has many critics who also disapprove of his batting technique in ODI’s and T20. I wish Malik all the best in his career, and for his sake I hope he can improve his performances in ODI’s and Tests both. I would also take this opportunity to apologise to Malik and Malik’s fans if this blog offended them, but as journalists we were doing what we thought is best for the team. Much of what we said about Malik has now come true and we do deserve some credit for that. Younis has admitted today that Malik will remain a senior player in the side and he will not be dropped, so here’s wishing Malik all the best.
In the end, congratulations to Younis Khan. For the reasons outlined above, Younis will do a better job than Malik. After years of disappointment and overall decline in the team’s performance, Younis’s appointment has given us some reason to cheer about. This is a rarity in Pakistan cricket, so let us cherish it while it lasts. BETTER TIMES ARE MOST CERTAINLY AHEAD.