Younus Khan – the steely Pakistani warrior

By Zaheer E. Clarke

Published October 31, 2016

Younus Khan’s career has gone through many off-the-field interruptions. However, despite them all, he stands as one of the greatest Test batsmen of all-time, including Pakistan’s all-time best. 

Pakistan batsman Younus Khan has moved up three places to second position in the latest MRF Tyres ICC Player Rankings for Test Batsmen (Photo credit: Ineternational Cricket Council)

Pakistan batsman Younus Khan has moved up three places to second position in the latest MRF Tyres ICC Player Rankings for Test Batsmen
(Photo credit: International Cricket Council)

Earlier this week, the latest International Cricket Council Test Player batting rankings were revealed and the talking point was the jump by an old guard, Younus Khan, to number two in the world. As is customary, the ranking tables are usually overrun with young stars or up-and-coming cricketers: Steven Smith, Virat Kohli, Joe Root, Kane Williamson, AB de Villiers, and others. However, who is Younus Khan?

Table 1. MRF Tyres ICC Test Player Rankings (as on 26 October 2016)

Rank Points Name Country Career Best Rating
1 906 S.P.D. Smith AUS 936 v England, 20/07/2015
2 860 Younus Khan PAK 880 v Sri Lanka, 25/02/2009
3 852 J.E. Root ENG 917 v Australia, 10/08/2015
4 847 H.M. Amla SA 907 v Pakistan, 17/10/2013
5 841 K.S. Williamson NZ 893 v Australia, 17/11/2015
6 825 A.M. Rahane IND 825 v New Zealand, 11/10/2016
7 802 A.C. Voges AUS 824 v Sri Lanka, 07/08/2016
7 802 A.B. de Villiers SA 935 v Australia, 24/02/2014
9 772 D.A. Warner AUS 880 v India, 13/12/2014
10 765 Misbah-ul-Haq PAK 842 v New Zealand, 13/11/2014

Many casual followers of the game of cricket will not know of this steely warrior from Pakistan. After all, the name of several other Pakistan greats will come readily to mind before the name, Younus Khan. Names such as Hanif Mohammad, Javed Miandad, Zaheer Abbas, Imran Khan, Wasim Akram, Waqar Younis, Inzamam-ul-Haq, Saqlain Mushtaq and Mohammad Yousuf are usually discussed more quickly than the great Younus Khan.

Pakistani cricketers (L-R) Javed Miandad, Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis (Photo credit: DAVID CALLOW/AFP/Getty Images)

Pakistani cricketers (L-R) Javed Miandad, Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis
(Photo credit: DAVID CALLOW/AFP/Getty Images)

Khan’s career has spanned 17 years, 109 Tests, disputes with Pakistani board, resignations and returns. Still, Khan is the greatest Test batsman Pakistan has ever seen. In his 17 years spanning 2000-present, he has scored 9612 runs at an average of 54.30 with 33 centuries and 30 half-centuries.

He is the man you need in a crisis, when only a miracle will do. With Younus, Pakistan has won matches they had no business of winning, drawn games in which they were proverbially done and dusted, and have climbed to the number one ranking in Test cricket in August this year. Despite some of the former greats having played together in one team – Miandad, Imran, Wasim, Waqar et al –  Pakistan never reached the present heights in Test cricket. Moreover, the cog in this wheel of Pakistani supremacy is Younus Khan.

Pakistan cricket team climbed to No. 1 spot in the latest International Cricket Council (ICC) Test rankings published on August 22, 2016.

Pakistan cricket team climbed to No. 1 spot in the International Cricket Council (ICC) Test rankings published on August 22, 2016.

Not only is Younus Khan seldom spoken of in the same breath as the Pakistani greats aforementioned, he is never spoken of in the same light as modern greats such as Sachin Tendulkar, Brian Lara, Kumar Sangakkara, Ricky Ponting, Jacques Kallis and Rahul Dravid. Steely warriors are never given their rightful due and Younus is no different.

Interestingly, for his team, Younus was possibly better than some of the modern greats. Of the 29 players who have scored 8000 runs or more in Test cricket – with Garfield Sobers being the first to this mark – only three players have averaged higher than Younus Khan:  Sobers, Sangakkara, and Kallis. Such has been his productive in the middle order for Pakistan.

Highest batting averages of players with 8000 plus Test runs

Player Matches Runs Batting Average
1 Garfield Sobers (WI) 93 8032 57.78
2 Kumar Sangakkara (SL) 134 12400 57.40
3 Jacques Kallis (SA) 166 13289 55.37
4 Younis Khan (PAK) 109 9612 54.30
5 Sachin Tendulkar (INDIA) 200 15921 53.78
6 Brian Lara (WI) 131 11953 52.88

Speaking of the middle order, at the venerable batting position of number four, Younus Khan has averaged more than his much talked about Pakistani counterparts: Mohammad Yousuf, Javed Miandad, and Inzamam-ul-Haq. And more interestingly, Khan has averaged more than Tendulkar, Lara, and Jayawardene at this favoured and productive position.

Notable players’ batting averages at batting position 4

Player Batting Average
Jacques Kallis (SA) 61.86
Younis Khan (PAK) 57.24
Mohammad Yousuf (PAK) 56.93
Sachin Tendulkar (INDIA) 54.40
Javed Miandad (PAK) 54.10
Inzamam-ul-Haq (PAK) 52.90
Mahela Jayawardene (SL) 52.24
Brian Lara (WI) 51.25

Many fans will be surprised to learn that Younus has scored a triple century in Test cricket and has scored the same number of double centuries – six – as Virender Sehwag, Javed Miandad, Ricky Ponting, and Sachin Tendulkar. However, Younus is not celebrated as these blokes. Younus was once ranked as the number one batsman in the world, on February 25, 2009. However, this is hardly known among cricket lovers.

Younus Khan is never spoken of in the same light as modern greats such as Sachin Tendulkar, Brian Lara, Kumar Sangakkara, Ricky Ponting, Jacques Kallis and Rahul Dravid. (Photo credit: Unknown)

Younus Khan is never spoken of in the same light as modern greats such as Sachin Tendulkar, Brian Lara, Kumar Sangakkara, Ricky Ponting, Jacques Kallis and Rahul Dravid.
(Photo credit: Unknown)

The major reason is often due to Khan’s reclusive personality. Like West Indian Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Khan is more about the task and less about the flair and his personal brand.

West Indian young players presently in UAE playing Pakistan could learn a thing or two from Younus Khan. In the first Test, West Indies lost, but showed fight and purpose. In the second Test, once again, the fight was shown, but from a different set of players. I hope that by the third Test we can put together a team effort and finally win a match against Pakistan in UAE. Or else, my sleepless nights would have been in vain.

Turn on your television and there is a 50 per cent chance that he is calmly dealing with Test bowlers somewhere in the world. (Photo credit: AFP)

Turn on your television and there is a 50 percent chance that he is calmly dealing with Test bowlers somewhere in the world.
(Photo credit: AFP)

Until next time…

© Zaheer Clarke

All data for this article was obtained from ESPN Cricinfo Statsguru Database & Reliance ICC Rankings on or before October 27, 2016.

Zaheer E. Clarke is an award-winning freelance sportswriter whose articles have been published by ESPN Cricinfo, Western Mirror, The Jamaica Observer, Trinidad Express, Essentially Sports and others.

He can be reached at zaheer.clarke@gmail.com. Follow him on Facebook at Zaheer Facts, Lies & Statistics, or on Twitter at @zaheerclarke.

This blog article was also published in the Western Mirror on October 31, 2016.

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