Calcutta: While welcoming the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) move to re-appoint Younis Khan as captain for the Champions Trophy, the legendary Imran Khan has criticised his fellow-Pathan for having dramatically stepped down on Thursday.
“Younis may have had genuine grievances, but he shouldn’t have walked out of that Media conference in Lahore... Instead, he ought to have forcefully made his stand clear (to the PCB brass) behind closed doors,” he told The Telegraph.
Pakistan’s only World Cup-winning captain has been sitting on the Opposition bench in the National Assembly for some years now.
Speaking from Islamabad on Saturday evening, Imran added: “There are, after all, ways for the No.1 man (even if he’s standing-in) to behave... Having said that, nobody would like to be a dummy captain and the selectors must consult the one at the helm... I’m happy that Younis is back as captain.”
But, surely, this flip-flop is bound to affect at least some members of the squad'
“I don’t think so... (Mohammed) Yousuf and (Abdul) Razzaq will appreciate that the circumstances the other day were quite extraordinary and I’m sure they’re going to put their best foot forward... In any case, Younis had been the vice-captain for some 20 months... What happened in the last couple of days will, in my opinion, remain a storm in a tea cup... Nothing more...” Imran replied.
While Yousuf had been named Younis’ successor, the vice-captaincy went to Razzaq for two days. The latter is now back to being without a position, while Yousuf has gone back to No.2 in the pecking order (in Inzamam-ul Haq’s absence, that is).
Imran, of course, came down heavily on the PCB’s patron-in-chief — President Pervez Musharraf: “Nowhere in the world does the head of state appoint the cricket body chief... The top man should be elected by the affiliates... It’s a tragedy that the PCB, from 1999, is being run in an ad-hoc manner... It must be an institution...”
He added: “In fact, despite the Senate coming into the picture, the PCB still doesn’t have a constitution... Shaharyar Khan had been the chairman for 34 months (till Friday), I can’t understand why he couldn’t have the constitution in place... For cricket to develop, the PCB has to function as an institution...”
As there were guests over at his place, Imran was pressed for time. However, he had this to say about the Champions Trophy: “Australia, I guess, start favourites... The Indians, though, have a good chance as the tournament is at home... Younis and his boys are going to fancy themselves, despite the uncertainty over the opening pair... I’m disappointed, mind you, that Danish Kaneria wasn’t selected...”
Is there a dark horse'
Laughing, Imran said: “Sri Lanka, perhaps... I know they’ve got to go through, but have a good batting line-up and (Muttiah) Muralidharan can be devastating in the sub-continent... At least I won’t count them out.” Made to qualify, the Sri Lankans made a pretty strong start (on Saturday), defeating Bangladesh in Mohali.