Younis Khan has officially declined the captaincy of Pakistan, citing continuing mental strain after the traumatic events of recent weeks as the main factor in his decision.
Younis has been Pakistan's vice-captain for two years and was widely expected to take over following the resignation of Inzamam-ul-Haq in the wake of Pakistan's first-round ouster at the World Cup. But after a fortnight of speculation in which it emerged that he was reluctant to take over, he confirmed his decision to the Urdu daily, Express in an interview.
"They offered me the captaincy with full powers," Younis said. "The PCB said they would also be appointing a strong selection committee to back me up. But I refused after thanking them for their offer."
Privately, PCB officials had already resigned themselves to the fact that Younis would not take over though it is thought Nasim Ashraf, chairman of the board, was a keen supporter and was willing to try and sway Younis's decision.
Younis admitted that widespread criticism of the national side since their shock exit had been tough to digest, and affected his decision. "I am still hurt and upset at the sort of hostile reception we have got since returning from the World Cup. I have always given 100 percent for my country. But when your family gets threatening calls and our effigies are burnt and our pictures put on donkeys, then I can't lead the team in such circumstances."
He also denied rumours that he had asked the board for enhanced powers or that he called for certain players to be dropped, before hinting that he may also retire from ODIs. "I made no such demand. I think Test matches are real cricket and I will decide soon if I should continue to play ODIs."
This is the second time that Younis has walked away from the captaincy of Pakistan; last October, just before the Champions Trophy in India, he announced in a press conference that he refused to be a 'dummy captain' and walked off, only to be reinstated under a new board administration two days later.
Younis, who was one of the players who improved most under Bob Woolmer's coaching tenure and was particularly close to him, described the week after Woolmer's death as the worst of his life. "At one stage I got so angry with the way we were being treated I told the Jamaican authorities we are international cricketers not criminals," he said. "I told them why are you suspecting us of murdering Woolmer. In him we have lost a father figure."
The decision ensures that Pakistan, looking to start afresh after a traumatic few months, will be unable to do any such thing soon. They are now faced with a particularly tricky dilemma as they look at alternative options. Shoaib Malik, touted by some including Woolmer as a future captain, is among the front-runners, though there has also been talk of Salman Butt and Mohammad Yousuf.
In either case, the decision is expected to be made on or before the board's next ad-hoc committee meeting on May 7.