Shamik Das


Thursday, November 30, 2006

Yousuf bats his way to immortality

"Zindabad Pakistan"    "Allaahu Akbar"

Mohammad Yousuf. Yousuf Youhana. Muslim. Christian. Whatever one calls him, whatever his faith, one cannot doubt the greatness of this most genial of men.

Unassuming, unflustered, unadorned by tattoos, unaccustomed to celebrity, Yousuf is the model professional. He lives cricket, breathes cricket, eats cricket.

And now he's earned himself a place in the history books - breaking all manner of records during the Third Test of Pakistan's series against the West Indies - including Windies legend Sir Viv Richards's 30-year-old record for most runs in a calendar year.

I feel privileged to have watched his highest innings of the year, a thrilling double-century at the home of cricket, full of flowing strokes and textbook defence.

I'll never forget the moment he reached three figures - a majestic cover drive from the Pavillion End which raced away to the boundary - whereupon he turned to the Mound Stand and knelt down on the hallowed turf, arms outstretched in the direction of Mecca.

Here is a list of Yousuf's feats:

Most Test runs in a calendar year - 1,788 - surpassing Viv Richards's record of 1,710 in 1976, from the same number of Tests (11)

Most Test centuries in a calendar year - 9 - overtaking Sir Viv (1976) & Aravinda de Silva (1997), who struck seven apiece

4 Test double-hundreds - joint 7th on the list

23 Test centuries - joint 14th of all time

Century in each innings - only the 50th player in Test history to have achieved this

Test average of 56.65 - highest ranked Pakistan batsman

202 - biggest innings of Mohammad Yousuf's record-breaking year, scored at Lord's

England's array of high-rolling underachievers could do worse than follow his example.

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