Arise and welcome the winners of the ICC Champions Trophy 2017. Under the stewardship of Sarfraz Ahmad who after sane advice from well wishers and saner elements in Karachi very quickly freed himself from the shackles of Micky Arthur’s strange selection and strategies, to turn the rabble of individuals into a well oiled, closely knit cracker jack unit which in spite of a few hiccups on the way (saved by the rain rule vs South Africa; and escaping defeat at the hands of a butterfingered and clueless captaincy by Sri Lanka) to the semi final where they out gunned an overconfident England before bamboozling the complacent and confused Indians to win the finals comprehensively and convincingly. Well done Sarfraz; well played Pakistan. Usually I refrain from naming individuals but in this case special mention has to be made of Fakhar Zaman, Azhar Ali, Mohammad Amir, Mohammad Hafeez, Hassan Ali and Shadab Khan.
My only wish was that the victors, the champions, the men who did this nation proud, should have got on to a London- Jeddah flight as one united team. They should have performed Umrah which the Chief of Pakistan Army himself a very ardent cricket enthusiast had graciously given them as a prize – no award could have been more rewarding. What an apt gesture by the COAS.
Mr. Sethi avoid crowds be they at The Oval or any of your home grounds – UAE or Lahore – And if you insist on mingling with them as you tried at the Oval on the 18th June please take some of your Marketing, Media or other cronies who are always around. The Oval incident on that fine summer’s day was not a pleasant one. Good luck and God bless
After Umrah the team should have returned to Pakistan as a team, as one – to which city does not matter; it could have been Karachi, Lahore, Islamabad, Peshawar, Quetta. A befitting reception should have been given to these heroes followed by an award ceremony by the Patron of PCB, the Prime Minister.
A ceremony which almost appeared to be an afterthought and which came after a gap of over two weeks. Afterwards they could have been given a week or ten days off for Eid and celebrations with families, friends and admirers. But I am afraid the PCB bosses and management are quite incapable of thinking and arranging these simple functions–needs thinking, efforts, work and arrangements which the laid back officers and staff of the PCB are incapable of doing. They are just not used to it. Remember they have not been through the “pains” of arranging an international event in Pakistan for almost a decade. They cannot see beyond their own noses. Well even this exercise they could have “outsourced” to one of their many favourite contractors as they do for the “home” series.
But while the PCB Management were minding and looking after their own interests the members of the team arrived in segments of 2 or 3 players and landed at different airports and the receptions and welcome they were accorded were almost individual. Some were showered with prizes in the shape of motor cars of different makes, shapes, colour and sizes by the sponsors at various TV shows. It is learnt (and I cannot swear for the veracity of this information) that upon return a few of the players have appointed managers to negotiate their fee for appearance on TV Channels and maybe other matters. Some of these fees are very hefty – estimates are being bandied around which I am glad are quite substantial. Even a lady has been recruited to manage the matters for an upcoming youngster. And why not because these TV Channels make billions in the shape of commercials for programmes showing our new rising stars.
By the way like some Indian cricketers and tennis stars and Pakistani cricketers making it to the Big Screen (Films), some of the former Pakistan Test icons are now performing as models, actors and anchors on TV “shows” besides the commentary assignments. They are doing a wonderful job and I am sure being well compensated. Maybe they are regretting that they did not take this up as a profession much earlier; but then no one would have wanted them as they were not known personalities. There are always two sides to a coin!!
Periodical announcement that an International XI will come to Pakistan in September is very welcome. But also keep in mind that even Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka have refused to come. And PCB does not want to host Ireland although it will be a more popular team than the International XI
Besides these, outlets for the retired or tired cricketers there are lucrative jobs in ICC, ACC, PCB, PSL and also in the media as commentators on TV (although not many opt for the Radio), analysts, experts, writers, reporters. What they do depends on suitability and qualifications. But in PCB and PSL jobs these do not matter. What is required are friendships, relatives, and recommendations from those who matter. The PCB had stated quite categorically that the superannuation age at the PCB/PSL would be 60 years. Not going into details suffice it to state here that the recent Managers of the Pakistan teams have all been well over 60. Intikhab Alam was 75 years old, Wasim Bari 69, Talat Ali Malik 67, Naushad Ali 74 while Chief Selector of Women’s Team Mohammad Ilyas is 71; need I go on?
A recent case would illustrate the state of recruitment policy of the PCB which is done at the whims and fancies of the higher ups rather than proper channels. The post of Director Cricket Operations was created well over a year or so ago and remained vacant as there was a reported tussle between the two of those who must be obeyed. There were three short listed applicants – Haroon Rasheed 64 years, Iqbal Qasim 63 years both former Chief Selectors, and Shahid Mahboob 54 who is resident in England.
Once truce was reached a sham interview was hurriedly convened and Iqbal Qasim was informed that Haroon was being given the job while Iqbal would be appointed Director of the Regional Academy at Karachi which I suppose suited him. The credulous, naïve, mild tempered and soft spoken fell for the “assurance “held out by the COO. Iqbal is still waiting for that telephone call and/or the appointment letter. While I am happy for Haroon, I am saddened by the wrong done to a gentleman like Iqbal. There are personnel working in the PCB/PSL whose qualifications fall short of the requirement of the jobs they hold. To mention a few they include the Marketing Director, the Manager International Cricket the Director NCA; maybe many others. Some are reported to be reading to complete their degrees or have done so while on the job. There is also a case of a journalist/tv anchor being drafted into the ever growing Media Division of the PCB whose job was perhaps neither advertised nor applicants interviewed.
Then there is the case where PCB/PSL acted in haste and without proper preparations in the PSL fixing case against some of the cricketers. It is now five months and the tribunal sitting in judgment on the so called “fancy fixing” matter seems to be going round and round in circles. PCB used pressure on Mohammad Irfan and Mohammad Nawaz who thought it advisable to plead guilty and escape with light punishment. Did PCB?PSL manage to extract any information from them regarding the bookies?
The PSL Chief thought he had won a major battle, and would be hailed as the exterminator of fixing in cricket. He has landed up with egg on his face. That is because Sharjeel Khan and Khalid Latif, advised by two competent and pugnacious lawyers, proved tough cookies which the inexperienced Sethi did not foresee. Nasir Jamshed and the unnamed Britisher are harder nuts to crack. Knowing the law and having a little knowledge of the proceedings so far it seems that this matter will go beyond the third edition of PSL. As the matter is still sub judice I shall refrain from making further comments. But you aint seen nothing yet. If any one of the “accused” is found not guilty he will have a solid case against the PCB for defamation.
For those who have made inquiries the prize money for the 2017 ICC CT was enhanced by US$50000 and the total prize money was US$4.5 million. As winners Pakistan bagged US$2.2 million equivalent roughly to PKR 231000000 if my arithmetic is correct. Now according to reports the Prime Minister has sanctioned PKR215000000. This amount, hopefully, has been sanctioned from the overflowing coffers of the PCB of which he is the Patron and not from the Government funds. The PCB Chairman has also sanctioned some sizeable amounts to the players. There must also be some clause in the players’ contracts which entitles them to a share in the profits.
I am one of those who advocates the highest sums and facilities for players as I always did for Corporate Managers, Officers and Workers when I worked for transnational companies. The theory being “if you pay peanuts you get monkeys.” Bonuses and prizes are always welcome for those who work extra and deliver results beyond the expectations.
We should keep a uniform policy. Bonuses and prizes should be equal. We do not have to go overboard if we defeat India. After all it is only a cricket match, Win some; lose some. Be humble in victory; be gracious in defeat. Keep up the good work. PCB ensures good salaries and allowances for the players; it is their job to play and give of their best. They are not on contract (thayka) that if you win you get x amount; if you lose you get zilch. So if they win they may be awarded win bonus at the discretion of the PCB; and what if they lose? Will they have to pay fines or have their salaries and perks deducted.
However, why does anything and everything that the PCB does or does not do raises some controversy or the other? The answer is simple: the overstaffed and mismanaged Cricket Board brimming full with under qualified and hand picked inefficient and incompetent favourites of the big wigs of PCB and PSL mess up even the most basic arrangements as was evident from the Awards ceremony held to enable the Prime Minister to hand out well deserved and well earned cheques to the players who brought home the ICC Champions Trophy to Pakistan for the first time.
Besides the players who had toiled and endeavoured to bring this honour for their country, lavish prizes were bestowed on the officials, selectors, and also the managers of the PCB. Good. But if these officials could be “honoured” why were the most important ones left out particularly those who are strutting around taking all the credit for the victory.
The Chairman PCB, the Chairman of the Executive Committee and Head of PSL, all the members of the Board of Governors, all office bearers of the Regional Cricket Associations, Sports Heads of Departments, PCB’s COO, Directors and Managers, the Head and Staff of the NCA and many more should have been rewarded
The Chairman PCB, the Chairman of the Executive Committee and Head of PSL, all the members of the Board of Governors, all office bearers of the Regional Cricket Associations, Sports Heads of Departments, PCB’s COO, Directors and Managers, the Head and Staff of the NCA and many more should have been rewarded. The logic is that if the Manager of International Cricket who is a special blue eyed man of the top brass of the PCB can be honoured why not the sincere and hard working Manager of Domestic Cricket. The special favourite Director Marketing, and experienced sycophants like the COO, the Directors of Cricket Domestic and International and Administration did not deserve to be left out. The person who deserved most to be rewarded was the Manager Logistics who works 25 hours a day (literally) to ensure smooth arrangements for the team’s visas, transport, air fare, accommodation and anything else which the other incompetent and laid back favourites are unable to handle. What did the Media Personnel do to deserve to be in the same prize winning category (difference of degree in the amounts but not of kind) as the players and support staff.
The plain and straightforward formula would have been to award the players (the whole squad) and the support staff and term it as win bonus. But to award the motley crew of PCB Officials whether they be Managers, or Media Team reeks of favouritism. If you give it to 4 or 5 why not to 15 others? Come on PCB you may not be accountable for the money you squander but please spend judiciously. You do not have to depart after emptying the coffers of the PCB. Leave at least some seed money for your successors.
About the resumption of International cricket in Pakistan it will not happen just because you have won the ICC CT 2017. If that were the case we did win the ICC World Twenty/20 in 2009. The PCB/PSL are not really interested in bringing back international cricket to Pakistan as it does not shoot them. The PSL final last year happened only because the Armed Forces gave fool proof security cover.
Periodical announcement that an International XI will come to Pakistan in September is very welcome. But also keep in mind that even Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka have refused to come. And PCB does not want to host Ireland although it will be a more popular team than the International XI.
PTV has been spending enormous amounts to bring in famous past foreign cricketers at astronomical fees, lavish accommodation, and perquisites. They are paid to say that they feel safe in Pakistan and have enjoyed themselves. Well let us get all of them (PTV Sports has financed about 20 so far of all nationalities and ages and colour and creeds) form a few teams and send them out to convince the cricket playing countries about the safety and hospitality of Pakistan and see how many teams agree to come.
The state of Radio and TV commentary remain unchanged. The radio broadcasts are still being done off the tube sitting in studios in Islamabad and Karachi. The TV is in English from the original broadcasts. The stress on Urdu which was once advocated with zeal and enthusiasm seems to have vanished. Officials come and go promising revolutionary changes and then succumbing to a handful of strongly recommended people.
Ministers promise much; get themselves filmed and photographed but are busy doing other work and happy at being praised by sycophants who are anchoring TV programmes. I say more power to them. This has gone on for over a decade and a half now so let it continue. Who cares about the listeners and viewers.
International Teams will come to Pakistan only when security is satisfactory which it is now thanks to the actions by the armed forces. All that is required is some aggressive lobbying with the ICC full and associate members. The lobbying group should consist of members of the armed forces, diplomatic corps, former Pakistan Cricket Board officials, some former cricketers who have good contacts abroad.
In the end it is good that Sarfraz Ahmed is now captain of Pakistan for all three formats. It will be a heavy burden. But Sarfraz quite capable of handling the situation.
Unfortunately the Women’s cricket shows no improvement. Continuous defeats for a few in the ICC World Cup in Britain is not encouraging. Having followed it years I feel that their seems to be a “Mafioso” situation here. PCB should take the matter seriously and make some much needed changes.
P.S. As Najam Sethi puts his pads on to go out and take strike as Chairman to the PCB he has a few questions which must be swirling in his mind. He is supposed to have done a good job but he is being compared to the softie Nawabzada Shahryar Khan a diplomat and an aristocrat who always sought conciliation and even went to the extent of offering to play our home series aganst India on Indian soil. Those who remember must evaluate his performance in comparison to men like Noor Khan, Tauqir Zia, Khalid Mahmood or to oldies goldies of the glorious past like Alvin “Bobby” Cornelius, to name a few.
Sethi must take into account what Zaka Ashraf would do if he becomes Chairman PCB. And what will happen to the so called cash cow PSL which will now have a sixth franchise? Will this be merged with the PCB because the much heralded corporation which was and is on the anvil has not come through. Sethi will never let go the PSL and his six franchisees who have all served him faithfully and loyally.
I wish Shahryar Khan a relaxing, pleasant, peaceful, healthy retirement and Najam Sethi a successful innings. However the brilliant and charismatic journalist, Kasur born 69 year old Cambridge alumnus who has won the prestigious Golden Pen of Freedom Award and has been honoured with Hilal-e-Imtiaz will not find the pitch placid.
He will be well advised to think and mull over the statements he is going to make and not as in the case of PSL incorporation or the so called PSL fancy fixing announce to the world about something which later may not come to fruition. This habit he must not inherit from his diplomat predecessor. And please Mr. Sethi avoid crowds be they at The Oval or any of your home grounds – UAE or Lahore – And if you insist on mingling with them as you tried at the Oval on the 18th June please take some of your Marketing, Media or other cronies who are always around. The Oval incident on that fine summer’s day was not a pleasant one. Good luck and God bless.