LAHORE - Former Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chief Ijaz Butt is manoeuvring to spoil the efforts of incumbent chairman Zaka Ashraf through his unnecessary and unjustified statements.
Zaka Ashraf is struggling hard to bring back international cricket to Pakistan through his sincere efforts. It was felt that the ‘black days’ of Pakistan cricket were over but Ijaz Butt still wants to be in the limelight even at the cost of Pakistan-India cricket revival series to be held in December in India, comprising three one-day internationals and two Twenty20s possible due to hectic efforts of Zaka as arch-rivals agreed to play series in India.
In his recent statement, Ijaz has insisted that Pakistan must ask the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) to compensate it financially for the cancelled series of 2009. “It is a good thing that finally the BCCI has invited Pakistan to play a short series this year in India. But my concern is, the PCB needs to gain something more out of the series than the resumption of ties,” Ijaz reportedly said. Earlier, the PCB has already clarified that Pakistan would not discuss sharing of revenue generation for the series but wants revival of bilateral cricket ties. Ijaz boasted and claimed that during his tenure he had held meetings with the BCCI president N Srinivasan in the presence of former ICC chief Sharad Pawar and put forth a formula for revival of the ties but failed to convince them on the revenue sharing formula. The suspension of ties and cancellation of tour took place during the tenure of Ijaz Butt. “Obviously, Zaka has his own vision and policies but my belief is that we need to have bilateral ties with India on equal basis. They need to tour Pakistan and play a couple of matches,” Ijaz insisted.
The former PCB chief tenure was plagued by controversies including 2010 spot-fixing scam in England in which three Pakistani players, Salman Butt, M Asif and M Aamir were found guilty by the ICC anti-corruption unit and punished them because of leniency of Ijaz Butt who did not take action against them. If PCB at that time had taken action and slapped six months or more ban on them then there was no further inquiry by the ICC. But former PCB chief’s leniency cost country dearly and brought bad name for Pakistan.
The attack on the visiting Sri Lanka team was also occurred during his era near Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore in 2009 after that no international team visited Pakistan on security grounds. In his era, due to infighting with skipper Afridi, Shahid was removed from captaincy by him and named Misbah ul Haq as skipper. Afridi announced retirement from the all formats of game and promised not to return till the presence of Ijaz Butt and he obliged his promise and stay away from cricket. Shahid was also not granted NOC for playing county cricket.
Later after Ijaz’s removal, Afridi met with newly-appointed PCB chief Zaka Ashraf who asked him to reverse his decision and join the team in country’s interest. Afridi reversed his decision and joined the team to serve the country.
Kamran Akmal was also sidelined by Ijaz despite having no case against him. He was included in the Twenty20 squad by the present chief Zaka Ashraf after the claim of wicketkeeper that ICC has no case against him as the PCB integrity committee also cleared him. Critics and many former Test players have expressed their shock over Ijaz’s recent ill-timed statements. “Zaka is doing a wonderful job for Pakistan cricket. Ijaz should not try to spoil the cricketing relations between the two countries,” they said. On the other hand, USA has welcomed the resumption of bilateral cricketing ties between India and Pakistan, calling for a continuous effort towards a better future of South Asia.
The situation, however, seems to be improving as the BCCI has invited Sialkot Stallions (Pakistan’s domestic T20 champion) to take part in the Champions League T20 for the first time, which will be played in South Africa in October.