'It was not about cricket. When the prophet calls, that is when you go': Yousuf

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Sydney, Jan.2 (ANI): Pakistan cricket captain Mohammad Yousuf says that as far he is concerned, there is no link between his cricket and his controversial decision to become a Muslim after spending most of his growing up years a Christian.

Interacting with columnist Peter Roebuck during a Sydney Morning Herald interview, Yousuf said cricket was a game that he enjoyed playing very much from his childhood, while the shift from Christianity to Islam was a call that he could not ignore.

When asked why he converted from Christianity to Islam? Yousuf said: "When I saw that the real people who follow Islam, you can tell they are good people. I went to meeting and talkings, and I could see they were good. It was not about cricket. When the prophet calls, that is when you go. It is not this life I am thinking about, it's the next life. This life is finished in one time. The next life is not finished. If go to hell, always hell. If go to heaven, always heaven. That is what I am thinking about."

When probed further and asked whether former skipper Inzamam -ul-Haq was a key in his conversion, Yousuf said: "Any Muslim must pray five times every day. It is not Inzamam only. All Muslims."

Asked if he thought religion plays a more important role in country and cricket these days? Yousuf said: "You see we came here to play cricket but Mussulman is different. We must pray five times a day. That is our faith. But we can pray just two minutes, three minutes. In a day it might be 15 minutes. People see it more. Other teams have their gods."

He also revealed that he was from very poor family, and used to play with just stick and table tennis ball put in tape. There was no money for bats and all that.

"We just played in the road, street, anywhere. It was a poor area, and we had a lot of friends, and we played all the time. Table tennis ball was good because cricket ball was hard to play on the road. It was small so we had to watch it. As we grew up, we went to tennis ball and tape ball," the Pakistan skipper said.

He also considers himself lucky to be playing for Pakistan, as not many make it to the national squad from poor backgrounds.

"I had no option. Only other thing was work. If I was going to achieve anything, it was cricket. I was not sure to play for Pakistan but Allah helped me. I took a chance and did well. Very difficult for proper players to come through because there is a lot of destruction there. If you have no power, it is very difficult. I am from Lahore but Lahore did not want me because I had no power," Yousuf says.

Yousuf credits late Abdul Bashir Chugtai as the man who put him on the track to cricket stardom, and adds that his parents gave him permission to pursue the sport with total dedication.

He also talked about his Catholic background, the rebel Indian Cricket League, captaincy and other issues. (ANI)

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