Pakistan cricket is indebted to numerous men of integrity, professionalism and commitment, who have been at the helm of affairs of the PCB (initially called BCCP) in its different eras of existence. Justice A.R. Cornelius, Abdul Hafeez Kardar, Air Marshal Nur Khan, Arif Ali Khan Abbasi and General Tauquir Zia, to name a few amongst them, embellished the corridors of cricket board with their acumen and knowledge of the game.
Their massive contributions in the progress of the sport within the country are fondly remembered, and are now the standout part in the golden chapters of the cricket annals of Pakistan.
Unfortunately, their successors have not been able to match the contributions or even come anywhere near the grand achievements of these stalwarts. It has as much to do with the intentions as well as the quality of people who have lately managed the affairs of the cricket board; majority of whom have considered PCB as the hen that lays the golden eggs.
Instead of furthering the cause of Pakistan cricket and playing a substantive role on the international stage through meaningful presence, these ordinary individuals have been busy in pursuing their own narrow and short-term agendas.
The fiasco that we have witnessed during the Pakistan Super League (PSL) is a glaring example of how to mishandle a crisis (spot-fixing) and then deceive the commoners with cosmetic developments (PSL final) and hail these ludicrous acts as major accomplishments.
It will be sooner rather than later when the people will realize that they haven been taken for a ride and the clamor for the return of international cricket to Pakistan is nothing but a hollow promise.
The way spot-fixing fiasco has been managed smacks of deliberate non-seriousness and dishonesty. Firstly, if those running the show (read Najam Sethi) were aware beforehand of fraudulent activities, the question arises as to why did they not act proactively and catch the criminals before they could commit the crime. This would have avoided Pakistan cricket, yet again, becoming the laughing stock of the cricket world.
Secondly, if more cricketers were involved in this nefarious activity (as is alleged now) then why only Sharjeel Khan and Khalid Latif were made the scapegoats and suspended from the PSL. The damage done to the reputation of these budding cricketers will be hard to recompense, even if the commission finds them innocent of any wrongdoings and may well have an adverse impact on their future cricketing careers.
Thirdly, the manner in which Najam Sethi is resisting the involvement of FIA in investigating this case raises eyebrows that there’s definitely more to it than meets the eye.
The PSL final staged in Lahore was an ostentatious event with little or absolutely no impact on cricketing activities in the near future. There’s a financial term ‘Return on Investments (ROIs)’. Indications are rife that this game was perhaps the most expensive ever organized on Pakistan soil. Foreign players with negligible international standing were doled out huge sums to just make an appearance.
PSL organizers could well have invited some outstanding local players instead to fill the void, but perhaps they wanted to give the event an international flavor, albeit at a nonsensical cost. Extravagant amount was spent on security to ensure the match was played in a smooth and secure manner; one cannot overlook the exorbitant cost to transport the entire setup from UAE to Lahore and to arrange the game on such a short notice.
This profligate spending could have been justified if this game had played a part to advance Pakistan’s case for the return of international cricket to Pakistan. A game played in airtight security and with average international players (only Marlon Samuels can be called a top international player among the lot who featured) in attendance can never convince leading cricketing nations to make Pakistan as one of their next destinations.
Lowly ranked Zimbabwe are the only ones who have toured Pakistan lately and that too for a brief series of three games, all played in Lahore. They are again willing to visit, as indicated by their sports minister, and once more PCB will pay them a huge amount with no plausible gains.
As claimed, a commonwealth team is also slated to come, but again the question is: will it include another set of fringe players or top cricketers will be part of the group; the former composition is more likely.
PCB management is well-advised to come out of its fool’s paradise and stop deceiving the cricketing public by initiating frivolous activities. We must be clear in our minds that security in the country will not improve by arranging such games; rather international cricket will only resume once the security is improved to an extent that it is seen to have improved by the international community.