Virat Kohli, Joe Root, Steve Smith and Kane Williamson are considered to be the four modern greats when it comes to Test batting and in all formats.
The contributions of all the four and their consistency has resulted in some mind-boggling numbers and have redefined the art of batting. The exploits of Kohli, Root, Smith and Williamson make them the ‘Fab 4’.
However, on deeper examination of statistics, there is actually a fifth player who matched them on consistency and on one occasion, has beaten them in one particular aspect.
This legend managed to slip under the radar. But, his contributions for his team were legendary. The likes of Kohli, Root, Williamson and Smith all started their glorious journey from 2013 on wards but this player made a telling contribution right at the start of the millennium.
As he grew older, he only became better. From 2013 to 2017, the glory years of the Fab 4, he matched them consistently and was also a match-winner.
Younis Khan – Pakistan’s Wall And Test Record-Breaker
The player in focus is Younis Khan from Pakistan, who retired in 2017. Unlike Australia, India and England, Pakistan and New Zealand do not have a favourable touring schedule in Tests and thus, their players do not play more Tests as compared to their Australian, Indian or English counterparts. Consider this one example.
Younis Khan played international cricket for 17 years but played only 118 Tests, meaning an average of 7 Tests a year. Kohli, on the other hand, has played 86 Tests in nine years, meaning an average of close to 9 Tests a year. Root, who made his debut in 2012, has already played 92 Tests, meaning a staggering 11 Tests a year.
There are already some records of Younis that none of the Fab 4 hold. Kohli, Root, Smith and Williamson do not have a triple century while Younis has one. The highest by the fab 4 is 254 by Kohli and Root.
The former Pakistan batsman is the only player in the history of the game to score a century in 11 countries, while Williamson is the closest with centuries in 9 countries. He is the only Pakistan player to reach 10,000 runs in Tests and has the most centuries with 34, level with Sunil Gavaskar. However, the numbers given below give an exhibition of why Younis was on par with the Fab 4.
Stupendous Numbers From Younis
The first table is the innings wise consistency by Younis Khan as compared to the Fab 4. The table is staggering for the fact that Younis has an average of over 50 or close to 50 in all the four innings. No one else even comes close.
Smith has a staggering average of 89 and 72 in the first and second innings but struggles in the third and fourth innings. Kohli tends to struggle in the third innings when India are setting up a target or are trying to save the match while Root struggles in the fourth innings. Williamson is the only player who shows consistency but he surprisingly struggles in the first innings.
The clincher, though, is the number of centuries in the 4th innings. Younis Khan’s tally of fourth innings centuries is equal to the fab 4 combined. When one talks about match-winners in the 4th innings, you think about VVS Laxman and Graeme Smith. Include Younis Khan also in the list.
The second table focuses on how these five greats have contributed in the middle order during their golden years from 2013 to 2017. Smith has an average of 72 while Williamson averages 59. Both Younis Khan and Kohli average 52 and the other similarity is their ratio of fifty to hundred conversion which is 2:1.
The third table above gives the holistic picture in which Smith, Kohli, Root and Williamson top the run charts comprehensively but Younis Khan has contributed more by playing less. His tally of 39 Tests is the least but he has the best fifty to hundred conversion rate.
The unfortunate thing about Younis Khan is that Pakistan’s cricket, nowadays, slips under the radar. With the exploits of Smith, Root, Kohli and to a certain extent Williamson getting more eyeballs, Younis Khan’s contributions might not be acknowledged. However, the numbers prove it. The decade from 2010 to 2019 was dominated not by the Fab 4, but by the Fab 5.