July 18, 2010

In the Throes of Turmoil

Pakistan cricket is once again in the middle of a crisis. It seems as if the word ‘crisis’ was designed to define the cricketing affairs of Pakistan. We are now the proud presenters of a sixth Test captain in almost three years. For as long as I can remember, people have been demanding intervention from the higher echelons to steer the cricket board out of this quagmire but as far as anyone who can say fail goes, we all know that hasn’t happened; and doesn’t appear likely to happen.

Shahid Afridi’s acceptance that he no longer has the temperament for Test cricket might be brave, but it was anything but graceful. The more important question that needs to be answered immediately is what now? The elevation of Salman Butt to the post of Test cricket captain does not augur well for the future of Pakistan cricket as far as my opinion goes. He is just starting to find his feet in the grueling test arena and his past record does not speak well for him. Not to mention that he is a relatively young cricketer and form has not always been on his side. So to thrust him in this limelight is tantamount to putting a meaty buffalo in a pool full of crocodiles.

Coming back to Shahid Afridi though, it is strange that the person who has spent almost a decade and a half in cricket should lose him temperament for the game. If anything, it should have increased and not decreased. As far as nature goes, things and people mature with time, not the opposite. This statement by Shahid Afridi has placed a huge question mark on the structure and integrity of the institution that is known as Pakistan cricket. More importantly, it raises the kind of questions that are continuously being shoved under the carpet. What kinds of antics occur at Gaddafi Stadium that force perfectly fine cricketers to go senile? What policies are being followed by the cricket board that have forced the legends of the cricketing world belonging to Pakistan to separate and isolate themselves completely from the Pakistani cricket affairs?

But then again Pakistan cricket’s history is replete with such instances of bamboozling decision making, reaching up to the patron-in-chief. The appointment of military generals, bureaucrats, and bankers as the in-charge of the cricket board has done more harm than good. In fact, it has only done harm and no good at all. Another major factor that has come to the fore particularly under the auspices of the current Chairman of PCB Mr. Ijaz Butt, is what is known in Urdu as “Beghairti”. Now I’m not singling out Mr. Butt alone, God knows we have Rana Sana and Rehman Malik too, but Mr. Butt steals the limelight when it comes down to beghairti. He refuses to budge and he refuses to listen to common sense. He has made enemies out of world-class cricketers and forced them to pack their bags. It is no secret that Younis Khan isn’t as fine a captain as let’s say, Imran Khan; but he was better than Afridi and way better than Salman Butt. And similarly, Muhammad Yusuf is no Brian Lara, but when the top batsmen of the world are mentioned, his name is up there in lights.

The dearth of meritorious cricketers is strikingly apparent. We have to put our house in order and the sooner we realize that, the better it will be for everyone. If the chief of PCB is incompetent and unable to do his job without being biased against half of the cricket team, he should be removed forthwith. There is no point in making a mockery out of cricket affairs on the international forum. But then again how can one expect honest, decent people to prevail when the deciders of the fate of this country are themselves corrupt, illiterate and criminals. But coming back to the subject, this piece is not meant to be a debilitating influence on the capabilities of Salman Butt. May God be with him and may he succeed. However, the foolish and at times completely baffling decisions on the part of the runners of the cricketing affairs need to be checked and those found incapable of doing their duties honestly should be relieved of their charges. Only then will we be able to clear out the murkiness that is prevailing over our cricket team.