Tuesday, June 14, 2016

The Story of Younis Khan (Part-4)

Younis Khan and Shoaib Akhtar

One last bit. Towards the end of the 35-minute recording, Hussaini asked him why he does not get the respect the other great Pakistani batsmen do. I wondered: 1) was it even true? And 2) see 1. It was designed to perpetuate Younis' victimhood, to force a seed deeper into his mind, that Pakistan does not respect him enough.

Maybe, Younis laughed, if he went on TV more to say he should get more respect, then he would. But he won't do that. And then he narrated an anecdote showcasing the respect he was accorded, about how the South African franchise Dolphins wanted to sign him as a mentor-player for their young side at the same time as he was banned by Pakistan.

Just before the recording, when we had begun our interview, I had put it to Younis that, as prolific as he had been in the last five years after the ban, his on-field presence had changed. He smiled and mingled less, looked more alone. He agreed. "You are saying I have become a bit reserved, yes? If you look at the last four to five years, whatever has happened, the way the management behaved, either I fight with them or stay silent.

"I can't fight anymore. Now I'm getting closer to Javed [Miandad] bhai's records, I'm thinking I don't want to fight. The energy I have I want to use towards my fitness and work. Because if you look at the last four to five years… "

We can skip this bit because it segued into extensive, discursive and blinkered venting about his exclusion from the ODI side. He spoke quickly, gobbling up whole words, relying on popular Urdu and English phrases. Then he came to the point, namely that he could not believe, after all he had done, that people still questioned his place in the Test side.

"Now I am seeing that when Younis Khan doesn't perform in a couple of matches, they start comparisons, that he is like this, like that, that he should leave now. I get very surprised by this. If somebody comes and says this, I say, look at my performances, my records. It's like if somebody in India says to Sachin, 'Sachin bhai aapne pichle match me kya kara?' [What did you do in your last match?] I get surprised by that."

I didn't know what to make of this illeism, or drawing equivalence with Tendulkar, so I asked him whether people really did say stuff like this to him.

"Very often."

"Does it prick you still?"

"No, because the day I started playing for Pakistan, my seniors and elders told me this. My mother always said to me something even I didn't understand at the beginning.

"She said: 'What is the love of a donkey? When he falls in love, he starts kicking.' So I have taken that formula and I move on. Anyone can do or say anything, it is no issue. When matters are in my hand, I will do what is right. I will not see what people are saying about me, I see what I have to do. Not even what they have done, I look at what I have done. I see how Younis Khan has reacted and what Younis Khan has done. If someone throws rubbish at me, I don't ask why, I have to see what reaction I give. That is why I smile so much, I smile at myself, at other things, sometimes even I wonder what I'm smiling at."

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