Karachi:Former Pakistan captain and world record holder batsman Mohammad Yousuf on Monday announced he was to quit international cricket in protest against an indefinite ban.
Yousuf was banned earlier this month in a crackdown on players by the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) following a disastrous tour of Australia. Pakistan lost all three Tests, five one-days and a Twenty20 match.
The dismal performance resulted in bans and fines on seven leading players -- Yousuf was captain for most of the games.
"I received a letter from the PCB that my staying in the team is harmful for the team, so I announce my retirement from international cricket," he said in Pakistan's financial capital Karachi.
"I thank the fans around the world, all the senior players and family members for supporting me throughout my 12-year career," said an emotional Yousuf, 35, dressed in a religious white cap and traditional dress.
"I always played for my country and if my playing is harmful for the team then I don't want to play," he told the news conference, fielding a barrage of questions at the Karachi Press Club.
The son of a poor family, Yousuf rose through the ranks of cricket to reach dizzying heights of success.
He played 88 Tests, nine as captain and scored 7,431 runs at an average of 53.07, including 24 centuries. He also scored 9,624 runs in 282 one-day internationals.
Yousuf was third behind Javed Miandad (8,832 in 124) and Inzamam-ul-Haq (8,829 in 119) in all time run-getters for Pakistan in Tests and second behind Inzamam (11,701 in 375 matches) in one-day cricket.
But his greatest achievement was 1,788 Test runs in 2006 with nine hundreds -- the world record for most runs scored and hundreds in a calendar year, beating Viv Richards' 1976 record of 1,710 for the West Indies.
He also won International Cricket Council Test player of the year in 2007.
Asked if he could rescind his decision, Yousuf said: "at the moment my playing in the team is harmful so I am quitting".
"If I get time, I would love to play first class cricket and private leagues," he later added, admitting that his performance in Australia had not been up to scratch.
"I accept that as a senior batsman I didn't perform up to expectations, but I still believe that I have cricket left in me," said Yousuf, who made his debut against South Africa at Durban in 1998.
In 2005, he converted from Roman Catholicism to Islam and started preaching in his spare time.
"I am thankful to almighty Allah for blessing me with talent and I am very happy that I helped Pakistan win lots of matches," said Yousuf, who defected to rebel Indian Cricket League (ICL) after he was dropped from the team in 2007.
On persuasion from the PCB, Yousuf changed his mind only to rejoin the ICL in November 2008 and was subsequently banned from playing for Pakistan.
Early last year, a stay order from a Pakistani court paved his way back into the team. He then accepted the captaincy after regular captain Younus Khan withdrew from the twin tours of New Zealand and Australia.
The PCB banned Yousuf and Khan on March 10 indefinitely due to "infighting", after an investigation into the disastrous Australian tour.
"I never had any fight with Younus, we both supplemented each other on the tour of Australia so there was no reason for fighting," said Yousuf. "I can still appeal against the ban, but only if my (religious) elders approve."