Mohammad Younis Khan will go down in the annals of Pakistan cricket as a legend, a role-model and a cricketer who inspired others. His statistics compare with some of the all-time greats and his legacy will be one of a patriotic champion who stood up to authority and performed when his country needed him to.
Younis came into the Pakistan team with the likes of Inzamam-ul-Haq, Mohammad Yousuf and Saeed Anwar around him and there to guide him. After scoring only 12 in his first Test innings against Sri Lanka, he showed the world what was to come with 107 in the second innings against an attack that included the great Muttiah Muralitharan. He never looked back after that century on Test debut and has to date amassed 34 Test hundreds and 33 fifties.
Younis' batting technique will not feature in too many coaching manuals, but it was a method that worked for him and enabled him to become the first Pakistani cricketer to reach the landmark of 10,000 Test runs during the current tour of the West Indies. The fact that he reached this landmark at an average of over 53 speaks volumes for his levels of skill and concentration. His record can be a match for any of the all-time greats and legends.
In the often chaotic world of Pakistan cricket to play for your country for more than seventeen years can be regarded as a miracle. In a world where selection, in-fighting and petty politics rule, Younis has managed to feature for his country in an incredible 116 Tests with the possibility of another two to come. It's not surprising that having been around for Pakistan for so long, Younis has had his issues with the Board and with some team-mates over the years, but by and large he has been a highly respected figure in international cricket. Revered by team-mates who speak highly of his discipline and advice, and also equally respected by the opposition, Younis has cut an immaculate figure since his debut in 2000.
Younis has broken many records including the highest run-getter for Pakistan, most Test hundreds for Pakistan, the only Pakistan batsman with a Test hundred against nine teams, the only batsman in the world with a Test hundred in 11 nations that have hosted Test cricket and the only batsman in the world to have 5 hundreds in the fourth innings of a Test match. The list goes on and these records just underline what a fantastic and focused batsman Younis has been.
What makes Younis' achievements even more appreciable is that he has scored runs in Test cricket all around the globe. He has performed in all types of conditions and against all opposition. Given the frailties of the Pakistani batting line-up, he has performed when the team really needed him to and when the chips were down.
Younis' partnership with Misbah-ul-Haq in the last few years has been solid as a rock for Pakistan and the pair will be very difficult to replace. The duo have rescued Pakistan time and again and it's been crystal clear that both have enjoyed batting with each other. Veterans they may have been, but their attitude and professionalism has been exemplary.
A patriotic and family man, Younis has throughout his career stated how important the support from his fans and family has been to him and without that he may not have succeeded in international cricket. However he has also at every opportunity mentioned the influence that the late Bob Woolmer had on his career. He has always stated that the Englishman whom he always mentioned as a mentor and father-figure improved him greatly both as a person and as a batsman.
Younis has had admirers all around the world. The great Geoffrey Boycott spoke very highly about him and was partly instrumental in getting him to Yorkshire. Boycott stated that Younis is a wonderful human being, polite, courteous, a wonderful batsman, a great slip fielder and he’s good in the outfield with a good arm.
The Pakistan batsman was like a smiling assassin. Quiet, unassuming and not engaging in any histrionics with the opposition. At the crease he would quite often start in a shaky manner, keep smiling and quietly build an innings. Before the opposition knew it, he would be in his 30s, still smiling and accumulating runs. Before the mesmerised opposition would realise it Younis would be on 50 and still smiling. Then the opposition would notice that Younis was raising his bat for yet another 100, and of course with a smile on his face.
At 39, Younis has remained one of the fittest cricketers in Pakistan and has consistently shown up younger counterparts when it comes to fitness levels and tests. His professionalism has been evident throughout his career and Wasim Akram recently stated that if young cricketers wanted a role-model they shouldn't look beyond Younis Khan.
How will the world of cricket remember Younis Khan? A gentleman who just loved to bat and bat and bat. A man for all seasons, all continents and for all opposition. They say you miss things the most when they are gone and that will definitely be the case when Younis Khan departs international cricket in the coming days.