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Yousuf and Twenty20 Cricket…

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There have been numerous reports in Pakistani newspapers that are seemed to be hinting at the exclusion of Muhammad Yousuf from the squad for the upcoming Twenty20 World Cup in South Africa. Reliable sources are considering the age and withering fielding agility of bearded middle order batsman as the reasons for this anticipated exclusion. It is becoming a hot topic in Pakistani newspapers as the inaugural T20 tournament is getting closer. Public opinion backs Yousuf to be included in the squad for his experience and maturity which he will bring to the side in case he makes it to the final eleven.

On the contrary, several veteran cricketers hold an opinion that Yousuf’s fielding will force Pakistan suffer in the field. They think along with many others that this form of the game demands fitness, agility, presence of mind and alertness to save some precious runs which is definitely looks a bankable idea in today’s world of modern cricket.

But the main problem that is really creating doubts in the minds of selection panel is the inconsistency factor of the Pakistani batting which manifested its ugly face on 17th March, 2007 against Ireland in World Cup. For instance if they would not take Yousuf with them to South Africa and the team fails to make huge runs then the selectors will find themselves in a very tight corner. This is a possibility in the presence of somewhat very unsure opening batsmen in the Pakistan squad. If Pakistani openers fail again to provide solid starts, then the whole burden would be on the middle order which in case of Yousuf’s absence will be lot more brittle than with him.

Yousuf’s natural style of flair and attack definitely suits a 20 over game where you need to make quick runs with sensible hitting rather than mindless hoicks and senseless cross-batted swats. We all know when a class batsman tries to hit out, then what are the possibilities than relying on pinch-hitters. Pakistan has never been a first class fielding outfit and Yousuf’s exclusion and any inclusion of young legs in their side will not make them Australia or South Africa.

Mohammad Yousuf may be a weakling in fielding, but is the strongest link while he holds a bat in his hands. Pakistan selectors have to bear in mind that T20 cricket is not all about bang-bang. It requires bit of graft and craft to build an innings which is a doubtful proposition without genuine batting experts at your helm. Yousuf can make one end safe by taking quick singles and doubles while he can make other batsmen to work around him. I can bet that T20 World Cup will be cherished more by genuine specialist batsmen rather than all-rounders or tidbit cricketers.

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