October 14, 2010

We need a hero

When heroes desert their profession, villains step in.
(Photo: Dawn.com)
Pakistan cricket is in eternal turmoil. Ever since we won the 1992 World Cup, things started to slide down hill which ended in the sad tragedy of Ijaz Butt being appointed as our cricket board’s Chairman. Normally, when former sportsmen are appointed as the office bearers in their respective field, they concentrate all their energies on sorting out the problems that they had to face in their heyday. Contrary to this fundamental principle on which sports bodies all around the world function, in Pakistan former sportsmen as in-charges means spelling out doom for the sport with a capital 'D'.

But this is not yet another post about having a go, maligning, poking fun, or gaining readership at the cost of the mother of all buffoons aka Ijaz Butt. This is about raising a fundamental question, and that question is: why haven’t the highest rated cricketers that Pakistan has ever produced, made themselves and their services available for the benefit of all? Particularly for the crushed, sad and angry young fans who despite wanting to hurt Ijaz Butt in places that I cannot mention in this post due to obvious reasons, still have to put up with him. Granted that Waqar Younis turned up and did a splendid job of honing Muhammad Aamir, Muhammad Asif, Umar Gul, and hopefully, will now teach a few tricks to Shoaib Akhtar and Muhammad Sami now; but the question to be asked is where are Imran Khan and Wasim Akram?

The sad truth, and one that possibly cannot be denied, is that Pakistan cricket is going through a brutally grueling period and it needs all its heroes to come rescue it, not unlike the Justice League. The thing is though, unlike the Justice League, the heroes of Pakistan cricket aren’t as forthcoming, particularly with the way the cricketing affairs are being run in this country. So does that absolve them of responsibility? Not at all. You see, when heroes see that the right principles are being ignored in favor of dubious ones, they step up; in this scenario, the wrong policies being adopted by Ijaz Butt means that the honor of an entire country is at stake; or was at stake till Ijaz Butt blew our prestige and self respect into smithereens internationally.

What Imran Khan and Wasim Akram fail to realize is that their personal whims are only getting in the way of the salvage of the sport that they represent, and that is represented by them. But even if I were to leave the morality out of this issue, what about the ethical conundrum that Wasim Akram places us all in? Like the fact that he’s more interested in teaching Irfan Pathan the art of swing rather than Muhammad Aamir; like the fact that he’s more interested in commenting on the whole Pakistan cricket saga rather than do something about it. While his comments are very insightful, wouldn’t it be better if he were to indulge himself in the affairs of Pakistan cricket in a more coherent way?

The same goes for Imran Khan. His political beliefs aside, but I have always thought that cricket was above petty politics. Well I was proved yet again, after Ijaz Butt took over, that cricket is not beyond the call of personal interests but even then, I believe that there is some semblance of gentlemanly left in it. I was also led to believe that Imran Khan was a very fine gentleman, but I cannot fathom that if he could build a cancer hospital, raise 1 billion rupees for the flood victims, motivate an entire crop of the current youth, why then couldn’t he step up to fill in the post of Chairman of PCB? He is a bluntly honest man, and that is the sort of gentleman one needs at the helm of affairs. Obviously certain political differences mean that he would be unwillingly to offer his services to a government that is beyond inept according to popular sentiment, but then again, a country beckons him to do just that.

It may seem outlandish but every time we have believed that Ijaz Butt would feel ashamed, he has made us see that he has in fact, no shame at all to feel; and so he has stuck to the seat of the Chairman like a leech. But even then we hope, because hope is all that we can, that one day Imran Khan and Wasim Akram will come back and take charge of the sport that was made great because they graced it.

This article also appeared on Bettor.com on 14th October, 2010.