When Younus Khan helped Pakistan out of a precarious situation in the second innings of the first Test against Zimbabwe, you would have known that you were in for a Younus Khan special. When it comes to Test cricket, Younus is arguably the best batsman Pakistan has produced. He always delivers when the team needs him, he is better than all when it comes to second innings performances, he saves Tests, he wins Tests and he is a team man. His exploits and relative standing compared with other batting greats have been well documented. Now, we try to figure out where he stands among Pakistani and international modern batting greats.
Performance away from home: Everyone can score at home on pitches where they have been batting their entire lives. The true test for a batsman comes when he is placed in unfamiliar conditions and is tested by an unknown environment that requires him to adapt appropriately. Most batsmen have a better home record than an away record, but great batsmen have as good an away record as their home record. That is what distinguishes the greats from the good.
Younus’s century against Zimbabwe was his 22nd. He is still behind Inzamamul Haq (25), Mohammad Yousuf (24), and Javed Miandad (23), but more importantly, it was his 15th century outside of Pakistan, overtaking Inzamam’s record of 14 centuries away from home. During this unbeaten innings, Younus also became the second Pakistani to score 5,000 runs in Tests away from home. He also has the best away average among all Pakistani batsmen who have played at least 10 innings outside Pakistan. With an away average of 49.54, one that is among the top 10 averages for batsmen who have scored at least 5,000 runs in Tests away from home, it is safe to say that he is one of those batsmen we should take pride in.
Performance in wins: Another benchmark for great batsmen is how well they perform in matches won by their team, or rather, how many matches are won on the basis of the particular batsman’s performance.
Sachin Tendulkar has been known for scoring irrelevant centuries — those that do not help India win. In contrast, most of Inzamam’s Test centuries have resulted in Pakistan wins. He is leaps and bounds ahead of other Pakistani batsmen when it comes to match-winning performances, but Younus sits proudly at number two in this regard. Younus’s match-winning 200 against Zimbabwe was his 10th Test century in a win. While this is far behind Inzamam’s 17 match-winning centuries, Younus averages in the seventies just like Inzamam did.
When compared with other batsmen around the world, Younus has the fourth best average in Test wins away from home. Among contemporary batsmen, only Alastair Cook has a better average than Younus. Note the kind of names missing from the above list — no Tendulkar, Brian Lara or Ricky Ponting.
It really is a shame that Younus has played only 25 Tests since the start of 2009. During the same period, Cook has played 61 Tests, Kevin Pietersen and Michael Clarke have played 54 each and Tendulkar has played 42. Can you even imagine where Younus would be today if Pakistan played as many Tests as Australia, England or India? He would have not only been Pakistan’s leading scorer in Tests, he would have been considered among the top five in the world.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 11th, 2013.
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