Accolades have been flying from all over the world over his unique and rare feat to surpass a 30-year record

KHALID BUTT, Bureau Chief, Lahore
Dec 04 - Dec 10, 2006

As Pakistan romped home to a 2-0 series win in the third and final Test at Karachi it was one of those rare and cherished moments for all those millions whose passion is cricket and follow the game religiously. Pakistan has been in the recent times desperately looking for role models in the sporting arena and some event to restore its past pride.

The country which once boasted of being World Champions in hockey, squash, cricket and snooker, had long been in the wilderness. Some of its records had fallen by the way side over the years and it was time to look for a new hero and legend. Muhammad Yousuf - a shy, retiring and under normal circumstances an unlikely person to fill the bill - has gradually come up in recent times to become an instant hero and cricketing legend the world over.

Hailing from the city of Lahore and discovered in the early 90's he has been on his way to greatness but fighting out through seemingly endless maze of odds considering his humble origins and even his social background. His cricketing talent, stylish batting and burning ambition apart, he quite often seemed to be up against an insurmountable challenge.

Then a miracle happened, it was his sudden and quite surprising decision to convert to Islam. It was not a sudden or impulsive action but taken after careful thought. I had personally known Yousuf for many years and seen him living through his difficult period. One such moment was when he was packed off unceremoniously from Nairobi on a minor issue and he seemed quite hurt on this unwarranted slight. I give full marks to former PCB Chairman Tauqir Zia, to have handled it well and redeemed his hurt ego with swift action. During that crisis and subsequent period, one person whose support and role in giving him the necessary confidence and mould his personality is none other then present skipper Inzimam. He has been instrumental in uplifting his personality and entire outlook on life. His embracing Islam should be seen in the light of this positive note as this gave him a new and assured personality. The result of this transformation is before you. I think Yousuf has done a great and positive service to Islam and shown what it does to uplift the spirit of someone who felt downtrodden and neglected.

The accolades have been flying from all over the world over this unique and rare feat to surpass a record, which stood since 1976 in the name of Sir V.A Richards. Along with this, Yousuf has gone past Zaheer Abbas's record of most runs in a three-Test series and is all set to perhaps make many more firsts in the days to come.

It was heartening to see the Little Master, Hanif Muhammad personally pat him and stalwarts like Mushtaq, Asif Iqbal, Shafqat Rana and others greet him at home and abroad. One must also commend the role of Coach Bob Woolmer in this transformation, with his constant support. It is rightly time to celebrate and savour this great moment in Pakistan Cricket and let us wish Yousuf many more successes in future to bring these moments of joy to millions of his cricket fans.