Cricketing debacle

It was most depressing watching the abysmal performance of our cricket team against the Kiwis on Monday night in Abu Dhabi to realise that everything seems amiss with the affairs of the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB). Since I had played the game at the national and international levels I feel devastated. When Ijaz Butt took over as PCBs chairman, I congratulated him; at last a cricketing person was now in harness, succeeding a string of professional non-entities. However, I was sadly mistaken as the following startling but known facts would establish. Muhammad Yousuf on Wednesday took over as Pakistans third captain in less than 10 months after Younis Khan 'requested for a break ahead of the upcoming Test series against New Zealand. Surprisingly, Butts PCB had previously announced that Younis would remain captain until 2010. Wicket-keeper/batsman Kamran Akmal is now vice captain for the three-match Test series for Pakistan, which has not won a Test series since a 3-0 triumph over a very weak West Indies on home soil in 2006. From current perspectives, its clear that under Butts management we have still to win anything of note in Tests. Since Australian tour is on immediately after the visit to New Zealand, who would then be Pakistans skipper? Though the PCB embarrassingly insisted that Yousufs appointment had nothing to do with the disappointing one-day series recent defeat against New Zealand, it is manifest this decision stands against Younis both as a player and as skipper. The star batsman, who replaced Shoaib Malik as captain earlier this year had difficulty to keep his place in team, flopping miserably in the ODI series against New Zealand, scoring 0, 19 and 3 runs as Pakistan lost the series 1-2. Under him, Pakistan also lost a one-day series against Australia in UAE besides suffering back-to-back defeats in Test and ODI series defeats against Sri Lanka. His difficulty increased after Pakistans shock defeat against New Zealand in the Champions Trophy semi-final last month that triggered match-fixing allegations against him and his team by the chief of a parliamentary sports committee. Younis resigned in protest but changed his mind after Butt assured him captaincy till the 2011 World Cup. On top of this the PCB as an institution looks even clumsier when one sees that Yousuf was dropped in the third game against New Zealand and then the PCB made a summersault making the same player captain it dropped a little earlier The players collectively protested after the series decider in Abu Dhabi saying they were unwilling to play under Younis. Meanwhile, the Senate Standing Committee on Sports has summoned Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) officials in the first week of December regarding the sad performance of the national cricket team against New Zealand and constituted a sub-committee to streamline matters. Out of many causes for PCB debacles, two deserve to be mentioned: role that the chairman ought to have in affairs of the Board; and the choice of the captain. The chairman must possess management skills and leadership quality. The PCB is a multi-million dollars corporation. It must have several officials running its daily affairs. Regretfully, the PCB does not seem to do so. Hardly anyone has attended the Boards offices in Lahore for the last two months. The golden rule for Butt as leader is that he interferes the least in PCB affairs. But his appearance in every thing of note has become the norm. This leads to concentration of undue power in his hands. Posts are occupied by sycophants rather than on merit. The captain must not only deserve an automatic place in the starting 11 he must be a good Test and ODI player. He should be a role model, knowing theoretically the game. For instance, the 1992 World Cup is a classic example of Imran Khans leadership qualities. Despite having a weak squad, he managed to steer his team to victory. Imran like A H Kardar played at Oxford. Most nations also have captains with similar backgrounds. I remember that at Oxford where I played county cricket there were several players who later captained their countries: viz Gower, Abbas Ali Baig, Patudi or Mike Brearly. The writer is a senior advocate of the Supreme Court of Pakistan.

The writer is barrister at law (US and UK), senior advocate of the Supreme Court of Pakistan and professor at Harvard University.

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