One can only think of pure class and elegance when hearing the name of the all-time Pakistani great Muhammad Yousuf. Dare I say, no one was more spot on with his drives, cuts and pulls than an in form Yousuf. Contributing positively to the game on and off the field was what made him a true fan favorite.
The rational people amongst us who really understand the mechanics of the game especially with reference to the longer format would know how big a role Yousuf played in providing much needed stability and normalizing the middle order of the team that struggled against quality bowling line ups in the early and mid-2000s.
The team at Orange Ink sat down with the humble and extremely down to earth man to have a few of our questions answered.
Your passion for the game developed over time or was it instilled already since your childhood?
Cricket has been my passion ever since childhood.
How did you end up in the National team? Elaborate on this journey.
I had no intention to play for the national team. I remember in ’97, I was just looking for a job. I played for my college and club back then and soon God gave me an opportunity in first class cricket and I took it with both my hands. Luck had a huge part in my selection since the year I got selected, no batsman made significant amount of runs. I eventually got selected for the national side and the rest as they say is history.
Did your parents support you throughout your struggle?
They never stopped me from playing cricket. As far as education was concerned, I was done with my studies by the time I got into first class cricket so that wasn’t really an issue for me. My parents backed me big time and that helped me a lot.
Which cricketer did you idealize growing up?
Inzimam ul Haq and Saeed Anwar. They knew how to make runs. I was really lucky to play with them almost throughout my career. Internationally, however, I always looked up to legends like Lara, Sachin and Kallis amongst others.
2005 was the year when you turned into a Muslim and the world was introduced to Muhammad Yousuf. The very next year you ended up scoring 1788 runs which are the most in a calendar year till now. Do you think your conversion and sudden change in form were somehow interlinked?
It is always in the hands of God Almighty. That year, God made me score so fluently and that is just how it is always. Had it been in the hands of the batsman, he would score a century on a daily basis but that’s not how it is. Obviously I think, there was a spiritual link between me turning into a Muslim and scoring a record amount of runs the very next year.
Illustrate any one event that you still remember from your playing days
We had so many incidents throughout my career so I cannot just name one.
Who was your best mate in your playing days? Did you have any enemies in the camp as well? Other than that who was the most entertaining player in the dressing room?
I was on really nice terms with Saqlain, Inzimam, Saeed Anwar and Muhammad Akram. I don’t think I had any enemies but yes there was a healthy competition in the dressing room. For me however, it was always about making my game strong. That’s why I was never really concerned about anyone replacing me. However, Saeed Anwar was a really light hearted man who always kept the dressing room intact.
Which bowler did you fear the most back in the day?
All of the bowlers in that time were nothing short of champions. All were legends of their time. No one can match their class and stature. Players like Ambrose, McGrath, Pollock, Warne, Kallis, Muralitharan and Vaas were feared by every batsman back in the day and rightfully so.
Is it true that you were naturally inclined towards tests as compared to ODIs?
Again this is a misconception. If you see my record, in ODIs I have the second highest centuries for Pakistan. So how can someone say that I was inclined towards tests? I always equally divided my time for both the formats and played well in both formats.
Do you think T20s have disturbed the true essence of Cricket?
The game is in a really advanced stage now and so arguing about whether or not T20s are a good or bad omen is useless. Obviously, everything has its ups and downs but I think what is happening these days, we should just let it be and go with the flow.
If you were the national selector, on what basis would you select a player?
Being a selector is a difficult job and I am sure Inzimam is doing the best he can. I cannot simply answer what I want because I am not in a position to do so. If and when God gives me the opportunity to become one, only then can I state and enforce my opinion.
Can we see Muhammad Yousuf in the commentary box anytime soon?
Currently, I have no plans of doing commentary mainly because of language barrier. Other than that, I am not really interested in doing so but as far as Urdu commentary is concerned, I am up for it if ever needed.
Have you ever thought of coaching?
I would already rate myself as a coach. I played cricket all my life and I think I did pretty well, God willing. I know all the ground realities and have been through ups and downs so I know how matches are won and lost. So I have always been up for coaching. If Pakistan Cricket needs my services, I am always available for my country.
Source Cover Image: www.happybday.to