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The dancing Younis Kahn

Younis Khan was on fire for Pakistan against England. (AP Photo/Eranga Jayawardena)
Roar Guru
25th July, 2016
1

Younis Khan’s footwork at the crease has become a hit on social media in the last couple of weeks.

It has been described as a dancing Kangaroo to ballerina pivoting on the dance floor. Is it deliberate?

What is the method behind the madness and why is a man with a Test average of over nearly 60 in the last two years doing so?

The truth of the matter is that it has crept into Younis game but not to the extent as every single expert is making it out to be. Firstly, to understand it you need to look at Younis’ initial trigger movements and also the fact that Pakistan have not played outside of Asia, on seaming or bouncing pitches, since October 2013.

Before the England series Pakistan had played 20 Test matches on the sub-continent, a place where the ball rarely bounces above the knee roll from just short of a good-length.

Add to that there is barely any carry in the pitches, defensive edges are unlikely to carry to fielders behind the wicket, so the common type of dismissal to pace bowling is either LBW or bowled.

In those last 20 matches Younis has averaged 60 and scored nine Test centuries. So in fairness the method he has used has been extremely successful.

The first aspect of Younis’ technique is that he tends to bat a metre outside the crease. Then his initial trigger movement is to push forward and then wait for the bowler. With those initial movements he takes out the threat of an LBW but meeting the ball nearly three metres ahead of the stumps.

With the low bounce on the sub-continent, along with his initial trigger movement, it enables him to play on the front foot comfortably and also he can still ride the bounce from that position because of the low bounce in the pitch.

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Secondly, Younis also wanted to eliminate the LBW by shuffling outside the off-stump and get his front pad outside the line, so even if he is beaten by the movement, he managed to get outside the line of the stumps.

Both of these movements ensured Younis is in the best possible position for his own technique to be successful. It also resulted in Younis head position being outside the off-stump and he crouched ready to play anything right under his eye-line.

Now even if the ball seamed away in the sub-continent, the lack of bounce enabled him to still ride the bounce off the front foot by pre-dominantly using his hands. Now because he was able to get on top of bounce without having to get on his toes, the back-foot still moves across squaring up Younis at impact.

So, it has always been in his game for the last two years. To seek clarification, observe some of his best innings and you realise some of the edges down to the third man, he is opened up just like he has been in England this series.

The reason why he needs to lift that back leg in England is because the lateral movement is quicker of the pitch and the bounce is steeper.

Younis is virtually in the same squatting position but instead of the ball bouncing hip high, he suddenly had to over ride the bounce from above waist.

So naturally, he needs jump or get up on his front toe. Due to him rising on that left toe and with his weight still going forward and towards off-stump, he has to lift his back leg to balance himself.

So while it might seem like it has crept into his game, the truth is it is simply an exaggeration of his methods on pitches that bounce and seam more.

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It seems abnormal and looks unique but it has come about due to Younis sticking to his technique that has been so successful in the past two years. At the age of 38, Younis has his own style and he is standing by it.

To sum it up, the movement of the back leg has always been in his game but it has just been exposed further in the English conditions. The fact that Pakistan have not played outside the sub-continent, the dancing feet of Younis have come into spotlight when in reality they have always been there.