Shan Masood is the man for 'Goughie' as he gears up for Pakistan Test captaincy bow

WHEN Yorkshire signed Shan Masood in August last year he wasn’t even in the Pakistan Test team.

Now he is the team’s captain, preparing to lead his country in one of the most challenging of all assignments – a three-match series in Australia.

It will be a proud moment for Masood when he leads his players out in Perth on Thursday, the curtain-raiser in a rubber that continues with a Boxing Day match in Melbourne and a New Year’s game in Sydney.

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Thrust into the top role after Babar Azam quit after the World Cup, Masood is a man invigorated at the game’s highest level, having ended a near two-year absence from Test cricket shortly after signing for Yorkshire.

Yorkshire boss Darren Gough. Photo by Gareth Copley/Getty Images.Yorkshire boss Darren Gough. Photo by Gareth Copley/Getty Images.
Yorkshire boss Darren Gough. Photo by Gareth Copley/Getty Images.

Then, as now, there was a Sod’s Law feel about Masood’s international renaissance, which meant that he appeared in only seven of Yorkshire’s 14 County Championship fixtures last season (although one of them was washed out entirely).

His record was still impressive – 720 runs at 60 – and his ambassadorial presence could not be faulted; Yorkshire can have had few nicer people on their staff in their long and chequered history.

Fears that the Pakistan captaincy might impact further on Masood’s county commitments were understandable, but Pakistan do not have any scheduled Test cricket until a two-match series against Bangladesh in August (dates to be confirmed).

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The 34-year-old has fallen out of favour in Pakistan’s white-ball teams – he was bitterly disappointed not to make the World Cup squad – and, touching more wood than you would find in a timber yard, he should be available for most Yorkshire matches next year, the exception being the 50-over Cup that will clash with those Bangladesh fixtures.

Shan Masood in action for Yorkshire last season. Picture by Allan McKenzie/SWpix.comShan Masood in action for Yorkshire last season. Picture by Allan McKenzie/
Shan Masood in action for Yorkshire last season. Picture by Allan McKenzie/

Darren Gough, the Yorkshire managing director of cricket, said: “First and foremost, I’m really pleased for him. It’s a pretty special honour, captain of Pakistan.

“Yorkshire have got the Pakistan captain and that’s an honour for us, too. He’s done really well for Yorkshire and he fits in really well.

“He’s not going to miss any games for us really. He only misses August – unless they pick him in the 50-over stuff, say, but I think he’s just going to be their Test captain now.

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“I think he should be in their Test line-up because he’s a quality player. One-day stuff… I think they’ll kind of move on, if I’m honest, unless he does so well as captain of the Test team that they put him in just as captain for the 50-over stuff, but I think it’ll be Afridi who’ll be their one-day captain going forward.”

Masood has an excellent record in 50-over (List A) cricket; he actually has a superior career average in that format (54.38) to the first-class game (39.29).

Gough is not concerned about his absence in the 50-over tournament.

“It’s not a worry because the 50-over comp for us is a development comp,” he added. “We’re one of the counties that use that as development – not like some counties for whom it’s their chance to win something.

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“We want to play our youngsters in that competition and we’re a big believer in playing our younger players if we can. Shan will be around for most of the time.”

Gough thinks Masood will be better for the experience of having led Yorkshire last year.

“I spoke to him just the other day,” he said. “We’ve become pretty close, actually. He’s doing well and is in a good place. He’s batting well and looking forward to the Australia series.

“As for his captaincy, I think four-day stuff he’s been pretty solid for us. You’ve got to remember he came into a fresh environment here and there was a lot going on.

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“I think he still needs a bit of development in the one-day stuff, and not knowing the bowlers probably didn’t help. That’s when you rely on other senior players, and I think next year he will be in a better position for having had that first year with us.

“He’s quite calm, quite cool, not one for big speeches, quite introverted, but when he talks, you listen… that’s the most important thing.”

Gough said things are ticking over generally with players back in training and several abroad.

“It’s pretty quiet, as you’d expect at this time of year,” he said. “There’s a few lads abroad in various places.

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“We’re just planning and trying to do what we can at the minute. We’re still waiting for whatever’s happening finance-wise; we’re waiting for all that before we make any decisions as to the way we’re going to go, stuff like that.

“Moriarty is the only new player in so far, but I’m still hoping to get players and chatting to someone at the moment about the Blast.”

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