LEEDS: Pakistan assistant coach Ijaz Ahmed has given the strongest hint yet a recall for former captain Mohammad Yousuf is being considered.
Yousuf and fellow senior batsmen Younus Khan, who has been playing county cricket for Surrey, were both given indefinite bans after Pakistan`s 3-0 series loss in Australia this year.
But the fall-out from Pakistan`s 150-run loss in the first Test against Australia at Lord`s last week has led to speculation at least one of Yousuf or Younus could be brought back into the fold.
Although Pakistan officials have made it clear the second and final Test against Australia, which starts at Headingley here on Wednesday, will be too soon for either of the former skippers to be recalled, one of them could return for the subsequent four Tests against England.
And there is a vacancy to fill after former captain Shahid Afridi, having announced his retirement from the five-day format following the Lord`s loss, was ruled out of the remaining Tests that Pakistan are playing in England with a side strain.
"Yousuf can replace Afridi but the management haven`t decided yet who will come," Ijaz told reporters at Headingley here on Monday. "It could come out in a couple of days."
Ijaz added: "These are the only two players we are talking about, Younus Khan and Yousuf. Let`s see, it might be decided about Yousuf. Yousuf might be coming here."
Opener Salman Butt, now promoted from vice-captain to captain, was the only Pakistan batsman to make fifty in either innings at Lord`s, with scores of 63 and 92, in a match where the side had two debutants at numbers three and four in Azhar Ali and Umar Amin.
"He was the vice-captain as well. I hope he can manage this," said Ijaz.
"We have done a lot of talking to him and he has played really well and is shaping up well. I think he is getting mature and now he has got the responsibility as well. I think he will come good for that."
Pakistan`s batsmen struggled against the swinging ball at Lord`s and Headingley could provide similar conditions.
Ijaz though urged the players to follow his example as he recalled his innings of 141 and 52 in the drawn second Test against England at Headingley back in 1996.
"I toured here in 96 and scored a hundred at Headingley and in the second innings I scored a 50 as well," Ijaz said. "I told them the best thing to do is leave the ball outside off stump and the short ball.
"These are the two areas we are working on. Hopefully this will bring something positive," added Ijaz, with Pakistan looking to end a record run of 13 straight Test defeats by Australia.
Yousuf announced his retirement after being banned and he was the only one of seven players censured after the Australia tour who did not appeal against sanctions imposed by the Pakistan Cricket Board.
However, Younus`s ban has since been lifted while Yousuf has said he is willing to represent Pakistan again.
BDST: 2213 HRS, JULY 19, 2010