LAHORE - The only stability at Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) these days is in its instability. What kickstarted this entire process were sham elections held in February 2013 that unanimously elected Zaka Ashraf as the all powerful chairman PCB.
This result has struck down by Islamabad High Court (IHC) and Sethi was appointed caretaker chairman. When the PCB started to move in the right direction, the IHC curtailed the powers of the caretaker chairman.
If one thought this was a new low for the PCB, sadly it was just the tip of the iceberg. Over the course of the past year, courts reinstated the chairman, only to have him fired by the new patron-in-chief, the Prime Minister of Pakistan. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif brought in Sethi, who was tasked with setting up a new constitution of the PCB and holding free and fair elections to appoint a new chairman.
PCB, under Sethi, managed to make headway with Pakistan crickets Foreign Tours Program (FTP) for the next year. The almost impressive 6 or 7 (soon to be finalised) series with India over the next eight years being an encouraging insight into the things to come at PCB.
After the usual last minute drama the new set up at PCB has also managed to bring in former players from across the globe to help nurture and develop cricketing talent in the country. But this move has been criticised like everything good or bad the PCB does for one reason or another. The latest to face the music in the public sphere are none other than the toe-crushing legend Waqar Younis and spin guru Mushtaq Ahmed.
Much has been said and made out of the selection process. One may place all the blame at the door of the PCB but the only thing everyone needs to realise is that sending in your cv does not translate into one getting an interview call or let along the job itself. It is humbly requested that former cricket players who are legends of the game should not wash their dirty linen in public, just for the simple reason that it is unbecoming of their greatness. As athletes one must always be humble in victory and gracious in defeat. Let us just leave the head coach’s appointment with the man who was most qualified in the present situation, and was hired by the PCB.
As for the peculiar case of Mushtaq, the criticism against him just seems to be unfair and disgusting. Here is a true master of his art. He left his job of six years in England – where he was respected and admired – to become part of the new chapter in the history of PCB only to be bombarded with acquisitions of being rejected goods by some sections of the media in Pakistan. This is the same media that unprofessionally called Mushtaq a traitor for working with a foreign board and not PCB. Talk about being damned if you do and damned if you don’t.
A recent internal comprehensive audit by the PCB covering the 22-month span of former chairman Zaka's administration has pointed to a staggering level of financial extravagance, with especially lavish spending on travel. The audit, conducted as part of the PCB's investigation of Ashraf's administration in the wake of his dismissal, looks at his two terms - between October 2011 and May 2013, and January 15 to February 10, 2014.
Among the revelations in the report:
* Zaka's spending on travel showed a 420% increase from his predecessor Ijaz Butt
* Zaka spent Rs. 10,847,472 in 22 months while Butt spent Rs. 3,415,981 in 36 months
* Approximately Rs 14.3 million was spent on entertaining the media, five times more than during Butt's regime
* Eight board meetings held in that period cost the PCB Rs 2.9 million on travel, accommodation and DA for the board of governors - including Rs 673,000 spent on one meeting at the Naudero Sugar Mill, owned by him
* Hiring a Toyota Prado 14 times from an unauthorized supplier at a total cost of Rs 4.27 million
Zaka has denied any irregularities and called it a smear campaign against him. However, it is in everyone’s interest and especially in the interest of cricket’s development that the present setup is allowed to carry out the mandate given to it by the patron-in-chief. Alas, one can only hold their breath because IHC will be deliberating on a petition moved by the former chairman on the present chairman. The passionate fans of cricket deserve better than this, they deserve much needed stability.