Former Pakistan captain Mohammad Yousuf has credited his conversion to Islam for his tremendous batting performance after 2006. That year, Yousuf slammed 1788 runs in Tests in a calendar year and broke Sir Viv Richards’ record in the process.
In a recent interview to wisden.com, Yousuf admitted that he was inspired by his ‘close’ friend Saeed Anwar who became religious due to his daughter’s death, to embrace Islam.
Yousuf, was originally one of the handful of Christian players to play for Pakistan and had made his debut as Yousuf Youhana in 1998, said that he saw the changes it brought to Saeed’s life which became a turning point for him to convert to Islam.
“I wasn’t forced to convert to Islam as some have alleged and tried to suggest. The reality is that I was very close to Saeed Anwar. We were great friends on and off the field and had played a lot of cricket together in our teenage years. I spent so much time with Saeed that his parents regarded me as their own son. When I was at their house, I could see the sort of peaceful and disciplined life his parents led and that really intrigued me,” Yousuf was quoted as saying by PakPassion.net.
Saeed Anwar had lost his toddler daughter in 2001 to an illness and took a hiatus from cricket, turning towards religion. He starting preaching Islam across Pakistan with the Tablighi Jamaat.
“I had observed Saeed Anwar’s life before he became religious and how that changed when Saeed had the personal tragedy of the death of his daughter. Saeed turning to religion was an inspiration and the turning point for me that lead to my conversion to Islam,” said Yousuf.
Yousuf called his tremendous performance in 2006 as a gift from God for embracing Islam.
“I did nothing different when it came to training or practice in 2006. Towards the end of 2005, I had converted to Islam and had read Islamic prayers for the first time. I then grew a beard and I felt at peace with myself, very calm and mentally ready for any challenge that came my way.
I have always felt that my brilliant performance in 2006 was a reward from The Almighty after my conversion to Islam. I had never even dreamt that I would break Sir Vivian Richards’ record that year, but because I was at peace with myself and my surroundings, mentally I was at the top of my game and I felt that nothing could stop me or come in my way,” he added.
The 46-year-old represented Pakistan in 90 Tests and scored 7,530 runs, which included 24 centuries and 33 fifties, at an average of 52.29. He also featured in 288 ODIs and accumulated 9,720 runs, which included 15 hundreds and 64 half-centuries, at an average of 41.71. Yousuf also played three Twenty20 Internationals and made 50 runs at an average of 16.66.