Pakistan Cricket Board is on a mission to please everyone who pleases it. This was evident during the Pakistan Super League and the three Twenty20 Internationals against the West Indies at National Stadium, Karachi.
Every Tom, Dick and Harry was issued a media accreditation irrespective of his/her standing and what work he/she was doing in the once coveted media box. It seems that PCB has no media policy and even they have its so oblique that it can be twisted as and when required. It is natural that whenever there is cricket the PCB will receive numerous media accreditation applications.
Everywhere these applications go through a careful evaluation of the applicants and their respective organizations. Take into account of the International Cricket Council’s accreditation process and its so meticulous that only deserving and working applicants are approved.
The primary requirement is that you need to have certain experience of covering international cricket before you get the ICC accreditation. But PCB’s media department is so inept that it never carries a careful evolution. The result is that hundreds of media passes were issued for the Pakistan Super League.
The press boxes in Dubai and Sharjah presented a fish market like picture with only a handful of journalists working. The rest were either chatting or taking selfies which they post on the facebook or twitter of other social media outlets or sharing jokes. Some of the television channels were blatantly violating the broadcast rights and were seen taking videos of the action. A Pushto television channel had as many as six journalists covering the PSL matches.
A number of web channels were roaming around everywhere, taking interviews of the players and no one knew when and where those interviews were broadcast. Despite the UAE government curbing all such web channels, they were thriving in the press box of Dubai, Sharjah and then in Lahore and Karachi.
Amidst all this “free for all” media passes, two reputed and experienced journalists were initially not issued accreditation cards for the PSL. PCB wanted to curb their voice, for they were consistently highlighting PCB and its chairman Najam Sethi’s policies.
Both the gentlemen were asked to tender apologies and it was only after that they did the same they were issued media cards. Such was the apathy of the journalists and their so called associations that no one raised voice for them.
There was liking and disliking as well. Some journalists complained that a few seniors were allowed every facility while some of the juniors were deprived of some facilities. Some journalists in Lahore complained that the media department was only looking for a few senior journalists while others were ignored.
The trend of accreditation card at penny’s cost has been going on ever since Pakistan is playing home matches at neutral venues of United Arab Emirates. UAE is not cost effective in terms of hosting matches for Pakistan Cricket Board but if you are not ready to save your money then others will never help you save that money.
An accreditation card in UAE costs PCB close to one hundred dirhams and every series some 200-250 accreditation cards are made but only half of them attend the matches.
The accreditation form had a condition that an applicant needed to submit his/her visa to be enable to get accreditation but it was not checked and no one submitted it. Had it been made mandatory not many would have applied for accreditation.
PCB issued accreditation to every Tom, Dick and Harry. Some 500 cards were made during the PSL as PCB wanted to accommodate everyone. It seemed that PCB translated the meaning of FREE PRESS as “passes to everyone” so that PRESS feel free!
In the same way irrelevant people also enjoyed access to the well-guarded stadium on the whims of some officials. Believe me a medical store close to the National stadium had got stadium access on cards made available to them by none other than manager stadium Arshad Khan.
Insiders say the manager had accommodated these people to stay firm on his port which he doesn’t deserve. When the manager failed to get free passes he found out another way of getting them entry. That’s where he used his clout to get them volunteers’ card and it worked because no one is checking.
PCB’s free-for-all media policy has made the noble profession a laughing stock. A few English journalists were aghast at the fist-marker like situation in the press box as they are not used to of such noise and hoopla.
But less said, the better. This, like many other anomalies, will continue in the PCB.