The hardships in Younus Khan’s life have enabled him to develop resilience on the cricket field
“Why do you always keep smiling?” an intrigued Ramiz Raja asked the veteran Younus Khan, who was about to step into the the field and break a record which had stood unshaken for the last 22 years — the highest number of runs in Tests for Pakistan. The answer came with yet another one of Younus’s trademark smiles followed by “whatever happens in the field, one should never give up their positive body language and smiling is the best way to do it”.
Javed Miandad, the record holder, while presenting his expert analysis on a TV channel, was optimistic that Younus would be able to surpass him with ease; Younus only needed 19 runs to supersede the legend, and owing to his current prolific form with the bat, it would be a piece of cake for the right-hand batsman. Miandad had serene satisfaction in his eyes and contentment in his voice, knowing that that there could have been no one better than the 37-year-old to better his best.
Meanwhile, Ramiz was still not done with Younus. A comment on Miandad from Younus was a must. Younus, in his usual composed manner, revealed the secret of his success: “Miandad is the person who is responsible for what I am today.” Any thoughts that Younus was merely being respectful to the legend, admiring his abilities and services for the country, were quickly dissipated as his explanation removed any doubt, if there was any, that he meant every word he said. “It was Miandad who taught me to take every day as a new one. Even if one scores 300 on one day, Miandad said to approach the next day completely differently, as a new beginning.”
To felicitate Younus’s achievements only as a batsman, a willow-wielder of great potency, will undermine his abilities. It is not his skill with the bat that has made him earn a humble name in the game; it is the other way around. The humility in the character of the man from Mardan has translated into great feats on the field. According to some, the hardships of his life, the emotional roller-coasters he has been through, have enabled him to develop resilience on the cricket field, but one must not forget that his last name, ‘Khan’, is itself a symbol of struggle and strength. The history of Pashtuns is filled with heroics of immeasurable magnitude and Younus has helped add feathers in the cap of the Khans.
Warriors are driven more by emotive force rather than just rationale and Younus personifies all the traits of a fighter. An impulsive yet calm cricketer, he has led Pakistan into ventures no one else would dare step foot in. Younus is a living example of Lesley Hazleton’s saying that “History is always made by the heedless”. The Pakistan Cricket Board, time and again, tried to tame Younus but what it got in reply was a wrecking of the records of the game. The powers that be said that he was not suited for Twenty20 cricket, he handed them the World Twenty20 trophy; they tried to extricate him from the cricket scene, he piled up centuries against Australia and New Zealand in the UAE and is still going strong.
Younus is a focused, yet emotionally driven batting great who plays by his own rules and has his own destination to reach. Personal records are secondary for him; the primary focus is to hoist the green flag higher and his recent quest for 10,000 runs and 40 centuries in Tests — if he is able to achieve these milestones — will surely do that.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 16th, 2015.
Like Opinion & Editorial on Facebook, follow @ETOpEd on Twitter to receive all updates on all our daily pieces.