March 30, 2010
Posted by Syed Khalid Mahmood at 11:26 AM .
It was around 4.30 pm on March 29 when Mohammad Yousuf, one of the greatest-ever batsmen to be produced by the country, announced his decision to retire from all forms of international cricket.
The Sports Committee of the Karachi Press Club (KPC) had invited the world record-holder for the highest number of Test runs as well as centuries in a calendar year at the Meet the Press Programme upon learning that he was going to make an ‘important’ decision of his career.
Thanks to the media it had become an ‘open secret’ and it was no more going to be a ‘breaking news’ by the time the programme was held that Yousuf would be announcing his retirement. A large number of KPC members, particular those covering cricket, had reached the venue much before the designated time.
The popularity of Yousuf and the significance of the event of the members had also attracted quite a few cricket scribes who are not privileged to be the members of the KPC yet for different reasons.
Yousuf himself arrived at the KPC about 20 minutes before the start of the programme and he had to spend sometime with his media friends in the Ibrahim Jalees Hall before being escorted to the terrace.
The seats were full and everyone was waiting for the moment eagerly when the master batsman was going to make the ‘declaration’ in public. With the members of the electronic media requiring time to get their microphones in order we had to start the programme a few minutes past four.
Being the Secretary of the KPC Sports Committee as well as the host of the programme I did have the option of delivering a long opening speech to pay tribute to the accomplished middle-order batsman and also reflect on the controversies related to him.
But I chose to be precise as I normally prefer to do on all occasions because I know how restless one feels if the speaker goes anywhere close to ‘dragging’ or loses the focus even a bit.
The KPC Secretary, A H Khanzada, talked in detail about the recent failures of the Pakistan cricket team having made the whole country sad and depressed.
The KPC President, Imtiaz Faran, explained the national flavour of the club. He urged Yousuf to change his retirement plans in the larger national interest.
The stage was set for Yousuf to explode and play a breezy knock. But he preferred dead batting. He just read out a carefully drafted speech in which he thanked all his former captains and colleagues for the support they had extended to him over the years. Then he announced retirement from international cricket.
Yousuf was reluctant to take the questions from the media but he stood there for a while as it’s a tradition to have an interactive session with the KPC members in Meet the Press programme.
A number of critical questions were hurled at him but he evaded them. He was not prepared to speak his mind. He looked indecisive and unprepared as well for the volley of questions. He, however, registered his appreciation for the KPC.