Updated: March 9, 2021 4:17:04 pm
Former Pakistan batsman Mohammad Yousuf has credited his spectacular performance in 2006 to his conversion to Islam a year before. The 46-year old had an extraordinary run of success, which began with a 199-ball 173 against India at Lahore. Yousuf then had a memorable outing during Pakistan’s 2006 tour to England and even broke Sir Vivian Richards’ record –of most runs in a calendar year.
He finished with an aggregate of 1788, eclipsing Richards’s tally of 1710.
In a recent interview to wisden.com, Yousuf admitted that he was inspired by his ‘close’ friend Saeed Anwar who turned to religion after his daughter’s death.
Yousuf saw the changes it brought to Saeed’s life which became a turning point for him to convert to Islam.
“I wasn’t forced to convert to Islam as some have alleged and tried to suggest. The reality is that I was very close to Saeed Anwar. We were great friends on and off the field and had played a lot of cricket together in our teenage years. I spent so much time with Saeed that his parents regarded me as their own son. When I was at their house, I could see the sort of peaceful and disciplined life his parents led and that really intrigued me,” Yousuf was quoted as saying by PakPassion.net.
“I had observed Saeed Anwar’s life before he became religious and how that changed when Saeed had the personal tragedy of the death of his daughter. Saeed turning to religion was an inspiration and the turning point for me that lead to my conversion to Islam,” said Yousuf.
Recalling his spectacular performance in 2006 a reward from God after his conversion, Yousuf said, “I did nothing different when it came to training or practice in 2006. Towards the end of 2005, I had converted to Islam and had read Islamic prayers for the first time. I then grew a beard and I felt at peace with myself, very calm and mentally ready for any challenge that came my way.”
I have always felt that my brilliant performance in 2006 was a reward from The Almighty after my conversion to Islam. I had never even dreamt that I would break Sir Vivian Richards’ record that year, but because I was at peace with myself and my surroundings, mentally I was at the top of my game and I felt that nothing could stop me or come in my way,” he added.
Interviewed the great Mohammad Yousuf for Wisden. He said “Towards the end of 2005, I had converted to Islam & had read Islamic prayers for the first time. I’ve always felt that my brilliant performance in 2006 was a reward from The Almighty after my conversion to Islam” #Cricket pic.twitter.com/ek8NNOreFb
— Saj Sadiq (@Saj_PakPassion) March 1, 2021
The 45-year-old represented Pakistan in 90 Tests and scored 7,530 runs, which included 24 centuries and 33 fifties, at an average of 52.29. He also featured in 288 ODIs and accumulated 9,720 runs, which included 15 hundreds and 64 half-centuries, at an average of 41.71. Yousuf also played three Twenty20 Internationals and made 50 runs at an average of 16.66.
Deeming the peak of his career a golden time for bowlers, Yousuf said, “It’s an honour to look back at some of the bowlers I faced and the fact that they were at the peak of their careers. Courtney Walsh and Curtly Ambrose were always difficult opponents, Glenn McGrath, Shane Warne, Brett Lee, Jason Gillespie, Damien Fleming and Michael Kasprowicz were always in your face and hunted batsmen in packs.
“South African bowlers, especially at home, were a handful, Allan Donald, Shaun Pollock, Jacques Kallis, Lance Klusener and Fanie de Villiers were top-class bowlers. I also always had the utmost respect for Darren Gough, James Anderson, Andrew Flintoff and Steve Harmison. For Sri Lanka, there was Chaminda Vaas and Muttiah Muralitharan. India’s spin duo of Anil Kumble and Harbhajan Singh always tested you. Looking back at my career, I played at a time when there was a golden generation of bowlers that will be tough to match in the future,” said Yousuf.
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