Ijaz defends Younis, retains him as captain

LAHORE: Bowing to Younis Khan’s demands, the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) has retained him as captain for an unconfirmed period, keeping his fitness as the only condition in order to resolve the issue that arose last week after the captain tendered his resignation as a result of being interrogated by the National Assembly’s Standing Committee for Sports.

While addressing a crowded press conference after the Governing Board members’ meeting here on Monday, the PCB Chairman Ijaz Butt said: ‘I did not accept Younis’s resignation, which means he is still the captain and I hope he retains the post for a long time such as till the 2011 World Cup, provided he keeps himself fit.’

Younis had resigned in protest of a statement by the National Assembly Standing Committee on Sports’ Chairman Jamshed Dasti, alleging the match against Australia in the ICC Champions Trophy was fixed. But he then, surprisingly, tabled his own demands before Ijaz in order to withdraw the resignation.

According to reports, Younis wanted to remain captain for a long-term besides having a two-member touring selection committee comprising captain and coach only and no role of the manager, associate manager and vice-captain.

To make things more confusing for the media, the chairman was not ready to give a clear statement over the issue.

He also volleyed questions about Younis’ leading the team against New Zealand in Dubai and Abu Dhabi next month. He said that he was the captain and would be leading the team, while pretending that everything was just fine with no major crisis since last week.

When asked if the PCB would accept all of Younis’ demands, he did not say much except: ‘If two people meet for two to three hours, they must have taken some decisions.’

Ijaz held a meeting with Younis at his private office last week in order to defuse the situation and reduce the tension by convincing him to withdraw his decision.

However, he gave out a clear message to confirm that Younis’ second demand about the two-member touring selection committee was also accepted although with a slight change when he said that from now on the chairman of the selection committee (Iqbal Qasim), coach and captain would be included in the committee.

However, Ijaz announced that Yawar would be a part of the team management, despite his having announced that the recently-concluded ICC Champions Trophy was his last one.

‘I have again requested Manager Yawar Saeed to do the job in the series against New Zealand and he has accepted my request,’ he said.

It may be mentioned here that Yawar had decided to quit his job after the last series against Sri Lanka but had continued till the ICC Champions Trophy on Ijaz’s request.

As manager, Yawar, one of Ijaz’s close friends, had accomplished nothing remarkable except for triggering a controversy in Sri Lanka when he had failed to stop some bookies from making contact with the Pakistani players. And the hotel floor of the team had to be changed as a result of that.

Moreover, he avoided taking strict action against Fawad Alam for his indiscipline both in Sri Lanka and South Africa (ICC Champions Trophy).

He did not even report the incident involving Fawad in his managerial report for the tour of Sri Lanka and he could only impose a Rs10,000 fine on him for the South African episode.

Surprisingly, although Ijaz has also announced Yawar as his next manager he was unclear about the fate of the other members of the team management, mainly associate manager Shafqat Rana.

When asked if Shafqat Rana would be retained as associate manager, he said no decision about the team management was taken as yet and it would be finalised in a couple of days.

Sources say that Ijaz would now try to have Yawar Saeed on the next Governing Board to be formed after the existing board completes its two-year tenure on Nov 9.

Meanwhile, the chairman defended Younis in taking a firm stand against Dasti’s statement saying that his reaction would have been the same had he been in the captain’s place.

‘Nobody can bear such allegations and Younis was right in his action,’ Ijaz went on to say.

Ijaz, however, couldn’t defend Younis in the face of the good number of questions about his attitude and short temper due to which he also quit his captaincy in the past. He could only ask the media why they were so against the captain.

‘After all, Pakistan won the recent Twenty20 World Cup under Younis’ captaincy. We also reached the Champions Trophy semi-final under his leadership. A majority of the nation believes that Younis is a better captain even though the media may have other views,’ he retorted.

When asked what would happen if Younis quit his captaincy during a match, Ijaz said that the PCB would then announce another captain.

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