Facing your alter ego: Younus versus Younus

Pakistan veteran batsman opens up about his pre-performance routine

Sports Desk October 26, 2016
Younus says he talks to another Younus for advice. PHOTO: AFP

Sportsmen are known to count on superstitions and pre-performance routines to counter anxiety on the field and Pakistan veteran cricketer Younus Khan is no different from the rest.

In a recently published article on how batsmen prepare themselves to fight it out in the middle, Younus explained his routine.

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Younus taking a break during training. PHOTO: AFP

"I imagine there is a guy standing in front of me and he is Younus, and just talk with him,” said the right-hand batsman as quoted by ESPNcricinfo. “It's like there are two Younus Khans standing face to face like a boxer, and they are talking and looking each other in the eyes. Come on Younus, you can do this, you can do that.”

The statement throws light on Younus’ tour of England where he was unable to control himself from hopping and jumping around on the pitch. Even to block a ball, he would exert extra energy by coming forward, then taking a step back or sideways while forcing a small jump on himself.

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Younus fends off a bouncer. PHOTO: AFP

The new or revised technique was causing problems for the veteran as he was not able to score past the 35-run mark with scores of 33 and 25 at Lord’s, one and 28 at Old Trafford, and 31 and four at Edgbaston.

However, an advice from a friend (not his alter ego this time) from across the border, the former Indian captain Mohammad Azharuddin, helped him realise what he was doing wrong. The result was a double ton in the last Test at the Oval.

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Younus bows before Almighty after scoring a ton. PHOTO: AFP

“It was hard work for me, but I received a call before the game from Azharuddin and he talked about my batting,” explained Younus. “He told me to stay at the crease and trust other people, and it worked out for me. It was surprising for me, the way I used to get out,” he added.

Sports psychologist Steve Bull, who worked with the England cricket team for 17 years, explained Younus’ and many other cricketers’ condition in these words.

“There aren't many situations in sport where you have this challenge of one tiny mistake and that's it, finished, the rest of the day you're watching from the sidelines,” explained Bull. “It creates a particular type of pressure which I don't think other athletes experience.”

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Younus drives one through covers. PHOTO: AFP

Bull further thinks that routines such as Younus’ are important for cricketers and practicing them off the field can help reap fruits once they become a habit.

"It has to be 100% consistent, every ball always the same,” he said. “You need to get your routines habitualised to the point where you don't think about them, to practise them so that when you're in the middle you go into automatic pilot."


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