YORKSHIRE have signed Pakistan batsman Younus Khan to try to give their County Championship title defence a flying start.
Younus has been recruited for the opening weeks of the campaign as a stand-in for the club’s first-choice overseas player, Aaron Finch, who is away on Indian Premier League duty until, potentially, the back end of May.
Yorkshire play up to five Championship matches before the arrival of Australian star Finch, who will be joined at Headingley after the IPL by fellow countryman Glenn Maxwell, who has been signed to play with him in the T20 Blast.
However, it is specifically to cover the start of the Championship programme that Yorkshire have got Younus, who played for them in 2007 when he scored 824 Championship runs at 48, including two double centuries.
“We have been looking for a world-class batsman to strengthen our batting department at the start of the season,” said director of cricket Martyn Moxon. “Younus fits the bill and will add real quality to our top-order.
“It also helps that he understands the culture of the club and what it means to play for Yorkshire. That was a major factor in signing him.
“We are well aware of his qualities and we hope his vast experience will enable us to continue our efforts from last year and give us a great opportunity to get off to a winning start in the Championship campaign.
“He will be with us for the first part of the season and we will then replace him with Aaron Finch, another proven international player, once Aaron’s Indian Premier League commitments come to an end.”
Younus, who is set to play for Pakistan tomorrow in their opening World Cup game against India in Adelaide, is delighted to be returning to Yorkshire.
“It is a great honour to be returning to Headingley and playing for Yorkshire,” he said. “This is one of the finest cricket clubs in the world.
“Yorkshire are going well and deserved to win the title last year. I hope my experiences in the first-class game will help them maintain their position at the top of the County Championship.
“The County Championship is regarded as one of the best domestic competitions in the world and to test myself in English conditions can only enhance my game. I’m looking forward to meeting my new team-mates and also reuniting myself with Dizzy (Jason Gillespie), who I played alongside in 2007. He is a great coach and I can’t wait to work with him.
“For the Yorkshire supporters, I am eager to replicate the form I showed the last time I was involved and build on the club’s superb form over the past couple of seasons.”
At 37, Younus is no spring chicken – more of a winter chicken, you might say. However, he remains an outstanding performer, boasting an eye-catching Test average of 53.
Like all counties, Yorkshire face a constant juggling act to recruit overseas players in the current climate of so much cricket.
They could potentially return to the market to cover Finch’s likely absence later in the season, when England’s limited-overs games against Australia clash with the Championship run-in.
Yorkshire’s coaching shake-up: Page 8