It was the 14th of May. The venue was the Windsor Park Stadium in Roseau, Dominica. Countless Pakistanis, in the nook and cranny of the country, were glued to the TV screens. They were waiting for the historic moment when Pakistan would be recording their first Test series win touring the West Indies. With Yasir Shah’s great delivery on the last ball of the penultimate over, the glittering careers of Misbah-ul-Haq and Younis Khan, the two Pakistani greats of the game, came to a perfect end. This, indeed, was a farewell any cricketer could have ever dreamed of.
To imagine a player who had threatened to “burn his cricket kit” at the apparent injustice when it came to his non-selection for the Pakistan Test team in 2010 as the most successful captain of the Pakistan Test side would require some degree of imagination. As would considering a player banned by his own cricket board to go on and become the highest Test run-getter for Pakistan.
But that is exactly how fate blessed Pakistan in the shape of Misbah-ul-Haq and Younis Khan. One, a thoughtful and pragmatic cricketer who led his country’s team with minimal fuss and no controversies; probably a first in the history of Pakistan cricket. The other, a master at meticulous planning and preparation, blessed with the batting talents that will be difficult to replace in years to come.
The Misbah story is fascinating because it offers hope for many Pakistani cricketers who face similar disappointments in their careers. In fact, the “age-is-merely-a-number” concept was illustrated by both Misbah and Younis as they set new standards of fitness which even left some of their younger teammates red-faced.
The Younis story is even more fascinating, but those who knew him well since he began his service to Pakistan cricket in February 2000 would not really have been surprised by his achievement of becoming the highest run-scorer in Tests for his country. In fact, when he broke the 10,000-run barrier in Tests, all Younis did was to underline his value to Pakistan cricket as the bedrock of their success in the Test arena.
Younis prided himself as the people’s champion to the last day of his international career.
Younis and Misbah can leave international cricket with their heads high because of their achievements. They have served their country with dignity and aplomb. They will be remembered in decades to come as two great cricketers and two fantastic ambassadors.
With the departure of the two stalwarts who played a key role in Pakistan’s rise to the number one ranking, a period of uncertainty is about to begin. The Test team will undoubtedly find it tough to adjust to the loss of two players who have kept the side together and come to its aid when needed most.