T20 will ''finish'' Pakistan cricket: Mohammed Yousuf
MELBOURNE: Mohammed Yousuf has issued a stark warning to Pakistan cricket of the impending dangers of too much Twenty20 cricket, insisting that it is "necessary" that Pakistan plays as little of the format as possible. Otherwise, the Pakistan captain believes, the format will "finish Pakistan''s cricket."
Yousuf''s counsel comes in the wake of Pakistan''s defeat to Australia in the first Test in Melbourne, where their batsmen struggled on a placid pitch in a 170-run loss. Australia declared twice in the Test, but Pakistan were bowled out for 258 and 251 - the second after being 170-3. But his words come in a broader context, those totals continued a long run of sub-par performances by the batsmen in the Test arena; in 14 Test innings now, they have crossed 350 only twice.
They have struggled with their openers and their No.3 batsmen, and have been caught in a number of Test collapses through the year in Sri Lanka, New Zealand and now Australia. As in Melbourne, a number of batsmen have settled in, before getting themselves out. The failure, Yousuf believes, comes from Twenty20 cricket.
"It [batting failures] used to happen before but now because of Twenty20 cricket no player knows how to stay at the wicket anymore," Yousuf told media. "Batsmen are finding it very difficult. I know the format has money, players get it and boards do but if Pakistan hypes up Twenty20 too much, Test and ODI cricket will really go down."
Pakistan are the reigning world champions in the format, having won the World Twenty20 in a stirring display in June in England. They reached the final of the inaugural World Twenty20 in 2007 and have the best win-loss ratio of all nations in the format. In Umar Gul, Saeed Ajmal, Shahid Afridi and Abdul Razzaq they have, arguably, the format''s sharpest game-changers.
They were also one of the first countries to adopt the format domestically, holding wildly successful events in Lahore and Karachi in 2005 and 2006, and the first three years of the tournament attracted what many believed to be the largest domestic crowds ever in Pakistan.
Additionally, a number of their players had successful first seasons with the IPL; they weren''t allowed to participate in tournament''s second edition, but a number of them are very keen to be involved next season and over 12 players have applied for a place in the auction. Afridi, Rana Naved-ul-Hasan, Gul and Sohail Tanvir have all played, or are playing Twenty20 cricket, for Australian state sides as well.
"You look at England, South Africa and Australia. They give Test cricket and ODIs the attention they deserve," Yousuf said. "Until we do the same, we will not progress. They also play Twenty20 but they do it in a controlled way. In our country we only want to play Twenty20 and no Tests. I think we have given up on Test cricket: either we look for the money or we look to revive Pakistan cricket."