The Pakistan Cup is done and dusted. The squad for the Champions Trophy due to kick off in England and Wales in June has been announced amidst joys, happiness, tears and fears. The ICC Big Three have been “dabardooshted” (dissolved) and replaced by a new constitution similar to the previous one, on the basis of fairness and equality.
This has come about mainly through the efforts and opinion of the new Chairman of the ICC Shashank Manohar who was against this “segregation” from the moment he assumed the Chairmanship of the ICC. The naïve and accommodating PCB had been “conned” by the wily and manipulative BCCI into agreeing to the Big Three Formula in return for six series in Pakistan (and an inclusion in the elite panel to become Big Four).
PCB higher ups saw sacks full of glittering dollars coming into their already overflowing coffers; their eyes lit up and they drew their pens for signing on the dotted line. Anyone with a little common sense would have realized that this would never come to pass– and it did not. Now that the BCCI (currently managed by a four member Supreme Court committee) has been cut to size they are feeling upset and angry.
Appointments in PCB have been made on personal whims and fancies with no respect for rules, regulations and qualifications. Some glaring examples are the Director of the NCA for whom the educational qualifications were downgraded. The General Manager International Cricket was working for years and at the same time completing his degree which was a prerequisite for the job (most convenient). The same was the case with the Director Marketing
By 25th April the cut off date for the announcement of the squads for the ICC Champions Trophy they had not announced their team; in fact they issued warnings that they will pull out of the event. ICC Chairman Shashank Manohar had put an extra US$100 million to them as a “peace offering.’ BCCI keeps resisting this as well. It is poppycock and a load of rubbish. Pure “geedar bhapki” (bullying, blustering).
They will not pull out because of the long term repercussions; and why should they let go the millions of dollars which, though not as much as previously, are still coming to the. There will be the cash rich match between India and Pakistan on 4th June at Edgbaston Birmingham. By the way there is no penalty , financial or otherwise for not announcing the squads by the cut off date!!
The Test series against the West Indies is going on at the time of typing this piece. Pakistan is striving for a 2-0 lead in the 3 Test series and the hosts are endeavouring to level the rubber. This will (hopefully) be Misbah ul Haq’s farewell series if Pakistan are victorious. Otherwise the PCB Chairman who is twice Misbah’s age will persuade him to have another series or two —- and why not? The longer the merrier.
Younis Khan deserves praise and congratulations on a well deserved ten thousand runs in Tests and also for his wise decision to call it a day. No praise is high enough for this young man. He has been perhaps the greatest batsman and fielder for Pakistan. His conversion rate – 50s into 100s – is perhaps the best amongst leading batsmen. Tendulkar has 51 centuries and 68 fifties.
Younis has 34 centuries and 33 fifties. He also led the country to the ICC World Twenty/20 in 2009. A bit temperamental at times, Younus is a thorough gentleman, soft spoken, frank, kind, considerate and very friendly. He has eastern piety and western efficiency. He has also put paid to the rumours that he will reconsider playing on for some more time if requested by the nation.
Wise young man. Both he and Misbah are set to depart in a blaze of glory which they more than deserve. Shahid Afridi who is being persistently wooed by the PCB and PSL Chairpersons to take a grand farewell has consistently rebuffed their offer. The PCB Chairman had proposed giving Shahid Afridi one of the matches against the International XI which will tour Pakistan (Oops! I am sorry, Lahore, which is the only city in this country where international cricket can be played) as his swan song (Don’t get me wrong —it is Afridi’s swan song not the Chairman’s).
The Chairman of the Cricket Committee and PSL (who I assume reports to the PCB Chairman) went a step further and with an arm across the former star’s shoulders offered Shahid the captaincy for the series in September. Why can’t these two compare notes and be on the same wavelength instead of sending out different messages? And why in the style of our politicians should these meetings be held in Dubai.
But I suppose the UAE is now the Headquarters of Pakistan Cricket and at the slightest pretext any PCB/PSL Official takes wing for UAE. I have on a number of occasions suggested that PCB should shift their headquarters to Dubai. They will save money, inconvenience and be near the ICC.
The marketing efforts were zilch. As such the cricket fans of Rawalpindi and “gird o nawa” (surroundings) were unaware that the prestigious List A Tournament of the PCB was being staged in their back yard. The staff of the bloated and over staffed Media Division were invisible except for a single official who came and went once a day or so. No teams sheets, scorecards or other news were fed to the media covering the show
The much heralded and trumpeted spot-fixing case and the high-powered tribunal proceedings have run into turbulent weather much to the chagrin and embarrassment of triumphant PCB/PSL Head Honchos and their Anti Corruption Unit who thought that like the simpleton 7 foot tall lamp post from Multan, Mohammad Irfan, the others will be brought to their knees by the threats of ban and fines and surrender without even the proverbial whimper.
The others, however, have stuck to their guns and given the PCB a run for their money. The PCB/PSL’s confidence must have melted away. This matter does not seem to be ending any time soon. As Randy Bachman sang in 1974; and Ronald Reagan said in 1986 “You ain’t seen nothin’ yet……”
This is currently the overall scenario prevailing on the cricket scene in this country. Added to all this is the precarious position of the Patron of the PCB who has more important things on his mind than the resignation threats, woes and pleadings of the octogenarian and septuagenarian twin heads of the Board and the League.
The Chairman “resigned” in March and “sent the resignation to the Patron”. But as I have been saying since then he is not going anywhere until his tenure ends in August 2017 (sources which are always “reliable” and on condition of “anonymity” have revealed that the Patron – or his office – has asked Shahryar to continue till August.
The Chairman of the Cricket Committee and PSL (who I assume reports to the PCB Chairman) went a step further and with an arm across the former star’s shoulders offered Shahid the captaincy for the series in September
He had already reiterated that he will go to the ICC meeting in London scheduled for late June. He will also, I am sure, witness the Champions Trophy in England and Wales and as in 2016 will reserve boxes at PCB expense for his guests at the three venues. He will remain on the Board of Governors till 2018. A few other members of the Board Including the Honourable member from Islamabad have already had their tenures extended. More power to all of them.
Succession to the Chairmanship may become a tricky issue. I am not fully versed in the constitution of the PCB but it cannot be very “democratic” if ten or fifteen persons sit around a table and elect a chairman. Let there be a General Body Meeting; let personalities declare their candidature and issue their manifesto. This should be followed by voting at the “General Elections” for Chairman and Board Members.
Najam Sethi with success in the PSL on his side is the natural successor. Let him contest. But if he becomes the Chairman PCB will he be willing to give up the plum job of Chairman PSL which is being registered as an independent corporation? As Hamlet remarked “Ay there is the rub…..”
Chairman PCB Shahryar has categorically stated in an interview with a TV Channel that the PSL Accounts will be audited and made public. When? Your guess is as good as mine. Also the 6th Franchise for the PSL is on the cards and I am sure Najam Sethi wants to oversee the selection of this important team.
For the PCB job Zaka Ashraf is all padded up to challenge Najam for the Chairmanship. There are some proceedings of the Supreme Court in this context on which I am not competent to comment. However, knowing the ways this Board and PSL has been operating it will not be difficult for Najam to overcome this “minor” obstacle. After all he is currently the de facto Chairman of the Board making all decisions on appointments, transfers and other important matters like offering farewell matches and their terms and conditions.
Appointments in PCB have been made on personal whims and fancies with no respect for rules, regulations and qualifications. Some glaring examples are the Director of the NCA for whom the educational qualifications were downgraded. The General Manager International Cricket was working for years and at the same time completing his degree which was a prerequisite for the job (most convenient). The same was the case with the Director Marketing.
Now comes the case of Director Cricket Operations who was appointed after a sham interview while the other candidate was promised a job in the Karachi Cricket Academy which was inaugurated almost half a year ago and is still not fully functional. The General Manager Media is m.i.a (missing in action since the first two tests in England) while some appointments have been made in the Media Division quietly and without even notifications swelling its headcount even more.
The Pakistan Cup was a cricketing extravaganza dampened by the hot weather, absence of spectators and sans fanfare. The curators and the ground staff of the Rawalpindi Cricket Stadium had done a marvellous job and prepared ten sporting tracks. It was a high scoring event with many centuries and fifties being notched up and some fine bowling performances. The outfield was lush green, well manicured and lightning quick.
Shafiq Ahmad the Chief of Domestic Cricketer and a Lone Ranger did a magnificent job. It looked that he had toiled all on his own. His colleagues were no where in sight or those handful who were around were seen lounging in leisure. Because of the hideously hot and inclement weather the D/N matches timings were adjusted half waythrough the tournament. Instead of 2 pm start the kick off time was shifted to 4 pm. This was a jolly good idea. Most matches were exciting and the final was an absolute thriller, a nail biter going to the wire and being decided on the second last ball.
The five teams – Sindh, Baluchistan, Punjab, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and the Federal Areas – were “drafted” (as is the fashion these days borrowed from the Leagues – Super, Premier or just Plain, Challenges, Bashes and what not. They should apply the same method to selecting national sides and we will be relieved of overweight selection committees for the senior team, the junior teams, the ladies teams). How the drafts worked I am not sure but the teams were quite balanced.
The Pakistan Cup, I am informed, was hastily arranged. The venues were chopped and changed. Faisalabad and Multan were chopped. Lahore’s Gaddafi is now the sacred cow reserved only for International Cricket or PSL showpieces. Karachi, Hyderabad, Quetta, Garhi Khuda Bukhsh, Peshawar continue to be neglected and will ultimate rot. Rawalpindi was chosen. The arrangements were pedestrian. There were no facilities for the spectators – no drinking water, no snacks and food stalls, no satisfactory toilet facilities.
The marketing efforts were zilch. As such the cricket fans of Rawalpindi and “gird o nawa” (surroundings) were unaware that the prestigious List A Tournament of the PCB was being staged in their back yard. The staff of the bloated and over staffed Media Division were invisible except for a single official who came and went once a day or so. No teams sheets, scorecards or other news were fed to the media covering the show.
This is also very unfortunate because some past present and future Pakistan stars were on show – Hafeez, Shoaib Malik, Sami Aslam, Umar Amin, Junaid Khan, Kamran Akmal, Anwar Ali, Sohail Khan, Sohail Tanvir, Mohammad Rizwan, Fakhar Zaman, Sahibzada Farhan, Mohammad Nawaz, Aamer Yamin, Rumman Raees, Arsal Shaeikh, Ghulam Mudassir, Imad Wasim, Umar Akmal, Khurram Manzoor…. Need I go on?
It was a galaxy and they played well, played brightly and played positively with commitment. What is more they were watched by the entire selection committee but to no avail as the team to the Champions Trophy had already been finalized (in “consultation” read “dictation” from the coach Mickey Arthur who works on his own likes and dislikes.)
It is a sorry state of affairs that a batsman like Umar Amin, the highest wicket taker in PSL and in Pakistan Sohail Khan, and the much required and needed all rounders Aamer Yamin and maybe Mohammad Nawaz cannot find favour with Mickey Arthur. Currently in the West Indies Pakistan is in dire need of an all rounder. They have gone in with 4 regular bowlers which is a grave risk. They need at least a fifth bowler/batsman who can support the regular batsmen and bowlers.
But I suppose the UAE is now the Headquarters of Pakistan Cricket and at the slightest pretext any PCB/PSL Official takes wing for UAE. I have on a number of occasions suggested that PCB should shift their headquarters to Dubai. They will save money, inconvenience and be near the ICC
PCB did take a step in the right direction by appointing five youngsters as captains. Imad Wasim (Winner) and Fakhr Zaman (Runners Up) came out with flying colours. Anwar Ali, Mohammad Rizwan will improve while Umar Akmal was a disappointment. Keep an eye on Umar Amin. The youngster looks a good prospect. The Pakistan Cup showed that Misbah, Younis, and down the line Shoaib Malik, Hafeez, Sohail Tanvir can retire happily. There are suitable replacements waiting in the wings.
The spat between Umar Akmal and Junaid Khan was silly and demonstrated the immaturity of Umar Akmal and his irresponsible attitude. A tribunal (now a PCB favourite) has been set up. This matter could have been decided in a few minutes rather than refer it to a committee. The PCB should review its decision to send Umar Akmal to the Champions Trophy as he may spoil the atmosphere of the dressing room and be a source of embarrassment. There are readily available replacements as we saw in the Pakistan Cup. Remember “zero tolerance” for misconduct!!
The Television coverage seemed to have been hurriedly arranged. It could have been more systematically organized. PTV Sports it is said is cash strapped. There are two sides to this. On one hand it can afford Super Stars from Pakistan and around the world (who are professionals) and are not cheap. They charge hefty sums and require business class travel and five star accommodations besides other benefits.
On the other hand the domestic events are covered by equipment which looks obsolete and is also insufficient. The other facilities……. all right let’s forget it. As it is I may never be invited to commentate again for pointing this out. But to use a hackneyed phrase I am giving you only the tip of the iceberg. PTV at least covered the event.
PBC (Radio Pakistan) did not even bother to do that. Fortunately for both organizations we have a new Federal Secretary for Information, and alumnus of the London School of Economics and Harvard University who seems to be a no nonsense go getter fired with the zeal to put things right. Best of luck and all good wishes to him and his ministry.
Like PCB’s Marketing Division, PTV’s Marketing also needs to become active. The commentary of a premier cricket event did not have any commercials. This tournament could have fetched millions had the Marketing Divisions of both PCB and PTV been awake and active. One way could be to “sell” or “lease” the event to some business house after a bidding process. The PCB can supervise and oversee the event while the lessee will have marketing, ticketing, catering, transport, advertising, commercial, broadcasting rights and responsibilities.
It is hoped that future events will be more meticulously organized if not by PCB (who find it difficult to change their laid back habits) but definitely by Pakistan Television and Radio Pakistan
There are no two opinions amongst the discerning and the judicious cricket followers in Pakistan and also around the entire cricketing world that all those found guilty of match/spot/fancy fixing in cricket matches be they the white ball format or the red ball longer version, should be banned for life.
I draw the analogy from employment in government departments, public and private agencies and companies, banks, airlines, service industries, media, education etc. If an employee is convicted of a misdemeanor and “serves” his punishment will the employer take him/her back ? The answer is NO and so it should be in case of Sports —- banned forever! Go and do something else.
The authorities also lecture ad nauseam that strict action will be taken against all perpetrators and that on any violation of the code of conduct there is zero tolerance. The punishment will be exemplary. No player is bigger than the game. These are, with utmost respect, hollow words “full of sound and fury signifying nothing”.
Over the years there have been innumerable examples where players have been charged with misconduct be it for fixing, bad behavior, in fighting, insubordination or acts against the “spirit of the game” (like pitch scuffing, ball tampering be it with a foreign object like a bottle top, sand paper or zipper, or part of the player’s anatomy like the finger nails or the teeth) and have gone scot free in the end.
PCB to quote Sir Walter Raleigh “…shows what’s good but doth no good…” . Every Chairman says with authority that on discipline there is ZERO TOLERANCE. What that really means has never been put into practice.
No action was taken on various “goings on” during Pakistan’s tour of India for a six Test series in 1979-80 although rumours still float around. The toss was a constant topic of conversation for the final Test at the Eden Gardens in Calcutta; as was the declaration. Had it occurred two decades later there would have been loud hue and cry and a lot said, shown, spoken and written.
Tosses be they vs India (1980), or West Indies (1974-5) or Zimbabwe (1995) have made many critics comment. The PCB remained silent about Pakistan’s ICC World Cup “mishaps” of 1996 (Quarter Final in Bangalore) and 1999 (defeat vs Bangladesh, and decision after winning the toss in the final) also 2007 (match against Ireland once again wrong decision after toss) and 2011 (defeat at Mohali). There may have been others but for the moment these should suffice.
In 2010 PCB punished seven of its top players by “banning” Mohammad Yousuf and Younis Khan for an infinite period, and Shoaib Malik and Rana Naveed-ul-Hassan for a year plus fines of Rs 1000000 each; while fines ranging from Rs1000000 to Rs3000000 were imposed on Shahid Afridi and the brothers Akmal – Kamran and Umar. It seems all these were taken back.
Shoaib Malik along with his new bride from across the border came back to Pakistan as a guest of the Pakistan Government while still serving the ban. Yousuf and Younis found themselves back in the Pakistan side, as did Afridi and Kamran and Umar. So much for the authority of the PCB. This action was unparalleled in Pakistan Cricket’s bumpy history.
The 2000 Justice Qayyum report (which has a habit coming back to haunt us after every such incident) had similar repercussions but that was about the graver concerns of corruption. Had the recommendations of the Tribunal been implemented in toto Pakistan Cricket would be clean and thriving. Why they were not is another story.
Of all those punished by Justice Qayyum only Saleem Malik and Ata-ur-Rehman (for perjury) had the sentences implemented (later lifted or overturned). The others ( including Wasim Akram, Waqar Younis, Inzamam-ul-Haq, Mushtaq Ahmed, not only played for and led Pakistan but also served Boards of England and Pakistan in different capacities and also the PSL as coaches and TV commentators. So much for the Tribunals and their recommendations and so much for the Zero Tolerance threats of PCB.
For record – and I may be wrong – there have been 24 cricketers banned for from a year to life for fixing. These include 5 Indians, 7 Pakistanis, 5 South Africans, 2 Bangladeshis and 1 each from Hong Kong, Kenya, Sri Lanka and New Zealand, Australia , England and Zimbabwe have yet to open their account. On the Domestic scene there are 7 Indians and 1 from England.
PCB proved its helplessness when the convicted felon Mohammad Amir was brought back into the Pakistan fold for all formats and played 12 Tests and over 22 ODIs and many T/20I. Salman Butt and Mohammad Asif are also cleared to play at least domestic cricket in Pakistan. Salman has performed well in domestic cricket and when Pakistan are desperately struggling to find an opening pair he would have been slotted in had the PCB not been faced with the embarrassing latest spot fixing in the PSL. These leagues be they in India, Bangladesh, UAE, West Indies are a hot bed of betting and bribery.
On first reading PCB’s cases against the PSL “accused” Khalid Latif, Sharjeel Khan, Shahzaib Hassan are on a weaker wicket than those at the Qayyum Tribunal; and much weaker than those convicted by the Southwark Crown Court in 2010.
It should be pointed out here and kept in mind that neither the Penal Codes of India or Pakistan make it a crime to “fix” matches or performances. There are calls to make effective legislations to stop this malaise. As such criminal proceedings cannot be taken against the errants. Amir, Salman and Asif were charged, tried, convicted and sentenced in England for “conspiring to cheat at gambling and conspiracy to accept corrupt payments.”
Moreover the fourth “accused” in the current case Mohammad Irfan has apologized and accepted the charge against him and has been punished. What if one of those whose cases are still pending points an accusing finger at him? And what of the key “accused” and main witness Nasir Jamshed? PCB officials can fly up and down to London but they will not get hold of the slippery Nasir.
The PSL Management were quoted as saying that they have unquestionable and irrefutable proof against Khalid Latif and Sharjeel and sent them packing home in a demonstration of confidence and authority. They also erred by naming a few others such as Irfan, Shahzaib Hassan and Zulfiqar Babar. But let them stay on and thought they would get away with such blatant double standards.
They forgot the age old idiom “what is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander.” The management was being dictatorial and thought they would get away with it. They almost did when Irfan succumbed to their dangling the carrot. But they had not reckoned with lawyers for Shahzaib, Sharjeel and Khalid Latif. It is not only these three involved.
Do not forget Nasir Jamshed and the real “culprit “ the bookie named Yousuf both arrested in Britain by the NCA and the mysterious third person who was also arrested but remains anonymous. I am afraid this matter is not going to end any time soon. The PCB/PSL and their Anti Corruption Unit appear to have shot themselves in the foot.