With its various connotations, ‘Fit’ these days is the watchword in Pakistan Cricket [Board] in more ways than one can count. Every cricketer shortlisted for the tour of England commencing in the middle of June is going through the trial of a boot camp in Abbottabad under the supervision of army’s relentless trainers.
PCB has already gone through the ‘fit’ of another kind. It sent the previous selection committee packing, installing a fresh one headed by Inzamam-ul-Haq. Another ‘fit’ of similar variety had seen head coach Waqar Younis hitting the sack, replaced by the South African Mickey Arthur who is shortly going to be invested with Australian nationality – curiously after having been fired by Cricket Australia not that long ago in circumstances that were indeed not too cordial to now land the same position with Pakistan – and tasked with reviving Pakistan team’s fortunes.
The boot camp is aimed to get the players ‘super fit’ but initially it gave them quite a scare. Some were way behind to cope with the demands of the routine, but army trainers literally gave them a run for… well, their careers. Sharjeel Khan, Khalid Latif and Khurram Manzoor are yet far behind in terms of ‘fitness’ that could be termed as satisfactory – at least in the army trainers’ books.
Long in the tooth, ‘fitness freaks’ Misbah-ul-Haq and Younis Khan were as supple and nimble as they come, while amongst the youngsters Shan Masood and Fawad Alam were declared par for the course. It is another thing that Fawad does not feature in any of the squads the three captains handed to the selectors. His 600 plus runs in Quaid-e-Azam trophy warranted a place in the Test squad, as other than his fitness and the weight of runs, he could also be the only lefthander in the middle order.
Beyond the team, ‘fits’ remains an issue. After fits and starts spanning about eight years, the PCB finally ‘fit’ the biomechanical lab equipment, handing it Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS) the other day. Bought by Dr Nasim Ashraf’s regime in 2008 before it was ousted, previously half a million dollar worth of equipment was rusting in the National Cricket Academy. It was not installed and made use for the benefit of those with kinks in their bowling action as it was considered to be more ‘economical’ to allow it rot by Ijaz Butt, a political-appointee chairman of the Pakistan People’s Party.
To its credit, the current regime found it ‘fit’ to fix the ignominy by passing on the stuff to LUMS for three years but there are sceptics who maintain that the state-of-the-art institution in this particular case does not have on its faculty professionals ‘fit’ enough to run the system!
‘Fit’ the PCB was the judicial outcome in 2013 after the court battles between Najam Sethi and Zaka Ashraf stigmatized Pakistan cricket around the world. The Islamabad High Court had also chided the PCB on being overstaffed. But sadly when the appointments of the heads of institutions are made on political basis, the heads that ought to roll survive – and more such heads get added to the roster.
Under political influence, son of current federal law minister and a key PML-N leader Zahid Hamid is found ‘fit’ for an already overstaffed PCB. This particular ‘fit’ is said to be on honorary basis – highly unlike someone who is obviously using all the influence he can to get the position.
The last ‘fit’ is looking for a new chairman. The incumbent Shaharyar M. Khan was elected unopposed in August 2014 but it seems that he is now ‘fit and ready’ to call it a day in July 2016.
The de facto chairman Najam Sethi wants to ‘fit’ himself in as the new chairman. If sources are to be believed, Sethi too is in London to convince his initial-sake PM Nawaz Sharif to give the nod in his favour. Khan, an octogenarian, will excuse himself by saying that he is physically not ‘fit’ enough to lead the equally unfit PCB.
Who can accuse PCB of not giving ‘fit’, ‘fits’ and ‘fitness’ a new meaning altogether?