cricket
Do not mess around with the much-maligned Misbah
The unflappable temperament and calm approach of Pakistan’s Test and ODI 
captain are great assets not only as a skipper but also as a batsman  
In the 373 official Test matches spread over 61 years Pakistan have been led by 30 captains out of the 213 players who have represented the country at that level. Statistically Rashid Latif with a success rate of 66.66% is at the top of the pile. Misbah-ul-Haq with 45% wins is only behind Waqar Younis (58.82%), Salim Malik (58.33%) and Wasim Akram (48%). Before you start wondering where all this is taking us I am trying to make a point that Misbah is not one of the worst or defensive captains we have had. By the way Imran Khan has a win percent of 29.16, Abdul Hafeez Kardar 26.08; Miandad and Mushtaq Mohammad with 41.17 and 42.10 are way ahead. Just to end this point and leave you to draw your own conclusions Intikhab Alam the main force in the PCB for a number of years has a win rate of 5.88 percent — he captained Pakistan 17 times with a solitary win. Pakistan’s win percentage in both ODIs and Twenty20s is much higher than in Tests and as such it is hoped that the team will perform significantly better in the forthcoming encounters. All these figures which “stand to this day...” can be verified from the records “to witness if I lie....” as Lord Thomas Babington Macaulay would have put it.  

It’s not the end
By Mushfiq Ahmad 
The recently-concluded Test series against South Africa was the first one for Azhar Ali in which he seemed to be consistently failing. He managed just one fifty in six innings, scoring only 133 runs at a poor average of 22.  
He had been making significant contributions since he made his debut against Australia in England in the summer of 2010, which is why he has a healthy average of 42 in Tests.  

The ODI battle
By Khurram Mahmood  
The management and fans were hopeful about Pakistan’s chances in the recently concluded Test series against South Africa, expecting bowlers to play a crucial role in winning a Test series for the first time on the South African soil.  
All were confident that their pace battery consisting of Umar Gul, Junaid Khan, Muhammad Irfan, Rahat Ali and Ehsan Adil with the help of spinners Saeed Ajmal and Abdul Rehman would be able to contain the experienced Proteas batting lineup.  

Swept every which way
The breakneck pace at which the game is played these days means the visitors would have evaded immediate proper scrutiny of their prowess in the Test rubber. Still, here are some facts to test your patience.  

Surrender in South Africa
The whitewash exposed lack of leadership, armoury and worst still, belonging to the game at this level
By Kamran Rehmat  
While every Tom, Dick and Harry had predicted Pakistan would be looking down the barrel of a pace gun in South Africa, it was generally assumed they would not necessarily need a pacemaker to ward off the blues.  
In the end, Misbah’s misery men didn’t even have the heart — or stomach — for a fight, save for one aberration in the second Test on a Newlands track that had considerably eased out.  

PHF’s financial woes
By Ijaz Chaudhry  
A few days back, the PHF secretary dropped a bombshell: “Pakistan will not be able to send its national team for the Azlan Shah tournament in Malaysia starting from March 9 and also the junior team for the under 18 Asia Cup in Singapore in June unless the government releases the funds.”  
Asif Bajwa blamed the federal and the provincial government of Punjab. “The federal government has not released the promised grant of 100 million rupees while the Punjab government had also promised us 30 million rupees which is yet to reach us.”  

Will the change in  PCB constitution
make much difference?By Syed Khalid Mahmood

It may be mere coincidence but the much talked about amendments in the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) came just a day after Pakistan’s cricket team was whitewashed in the Test series in South Africa.  
In a country where cricket is the most popular sport by a long way the powers that be certainly need to do more than just amending or revising the constitution which has currently been carried out upon the guidelines of the International Cricket Council (ICC).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

cricket
Do not mess around with the much-maligned Misbah
The unflappable temperament and calm approach of Pakistan’s Test and ODI 
captain are great assets not only as a skipper but also as a batsman

In the 373 official Test matches spread over 61 years Pakistan have been led by 30 captains out of the 213 players who have represented the country at that level. Statistically Rashid Latif with a success rate of 66.66% is at the top of the pile. Misbah-ul-Haq with 45% wins is only behind Waqar Younis (58.82%), Salim Malik (58.33%) and Wasim Akram (48%). Before you start wondering where all this is taking us I am trying to make a point that Misbah is not one of the worst or defensive captains we have had. By the way Imran Khan has a win percent of 29.16, Abdul Hafeez Kardar 26.08; Miandad and Mushtaq Mohammad with 41.17 and 42.10 are way ahead. Just to end this point and leave you to draw your own conclusions Intikhab Alam the main force in the PCB for a number of years has a win rate of 5.88 percent — he captained Pakistan 17 times with a solitary win. Pakistan’s win percentage in both ODIs and Twenty20s is much higher than in Tests and as such it is hoped that the team will perform significantly better in the forthcoming encounters. All these figures which “stand to this day...” can be verified from the records “to witness if I lie....” as Lord Thomas Babington Macaulay would have put it.

Now for the much trumpeted age factor which is being sounded for some time. According to the authorities of cricket in Pakistan (PCB) Misbah is a late bloomer. They gave him a Test debut at the age of 27 and an ODI debut a year later. Then dumped, only to resurrect him half a decade later. During the interim period he performed creditably on the domestic scene. He was consistently among the leading scorers with an average of around 50. When the Twenty20 came on the scene he was chosen to play in the inaugural ICC World Twenty20 in 2007 and performed with distinction. The so called “tuk tuk” batsman smashed three sixers in the final against India. He was a member of the team captained by Younis Khan which won the coveted title two years later against Sri Lanka at Lord’s in England.

If we take a cursory glance at Misbah’s performance with the bat in all three formats of the game it will be revealed that he is almost at par with the former captain and leading batsman Younis Khan and also the future aspirant to the stewardship of the Pakistan team Mohammad Hafeez. Misbah averages 43.19 in Tests with a strike rate of 40.74, 41.24 in ODIs (strike rate 73.54,) and 37.52 Twenty 20s (strike rate 110.20). Younis is better in Tests average (over 50) but lower in ODIs and Twenty20 (32.08 and 22.10 respectively). Hafeez lags behind Misbah in all three formats averaging 35.12, 27.28 and 23.17 respectively) but has slightly better strike rates of 53.55 and 114.16 in Tests and Twenty20s but is slower in ODIs at 68.74.

We must not forget that Misbah was handed over the captaincy of Pakistan when the team was in tatters after the shameful incident on the England tour of 2010 when three of the leading players —  the captain Salman Butt and pace bowlers Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Amir were hauled up on criminal charges by the Metropolitan Police, tried at Southwark Crown Court and sentenced to varying jail terms and ban on cricket by the PCB and ICC.

To his credit Misbah united the team, moulded it into a Cracker Jack unit and above all produced positive results. Of the seven series before the South African safari Pakistan had not lost any. They had won five — against New Zealand, Zimbabwe, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and England which was 3-0 clean sweep. They drew two including one against South Africa. With three Test losses Misbah’s record is somewhat soiled as now he has led Pakistan 20 times; won 9; lost 4 with 7 drawn. I must hasten to add that Pakistan are no strangers to being clean swept (I refrain from using the “colour code” for obvious reasons). Since 1999/2000 this is the fifth time that they have met this fate. It has happened four times against Australia in Australia when they lost 0-3  in each series — for those of you who may be interested the Pakistani captains on those trips were Wasim, Waqar, Inzamam and Yusuf; the Australians were led by Steve Waugh and Ponting. And now against South Africa. In all fairness they have been defeated in this manner by No 1 ranked teams and led by Misbah clean swept a No 1 ranked team a year ago when they downed England 3-0 in our adopted “home grounds” in the UAE.

Misbah also became only the second captain after Moin Khan to lead Pakistan to an Asian Cup triumph and title.

In 2011 the Australia-based Waqar Younis a former captain, coach and “toe crushing” fast bowler, and now a respected analyst and commentator, had this to say about Misbah’s captaincy and I quote (words in parenthesis and italics mine); “I have to give full credit to Misbah as he has stabilised the team and leads from the front (I wonder if teams can be or have been led from the middle or back!!). His performance is also outstanding. He makes the boys feel comfortable and relaxed so they actually enjoy their cricket. He is mature and willing to listen....” (maybe “listens very nicely but does  precisely what he wants...” to misquote Henry Higgins. That is probably the secret of his success!!)

Misbah’s records and performance speak volumes for themselves. The age factor is a non starter as long as he remains fit. This also applies to Younis Khan and any other player anywhere. Both Imran and Miandad played for Pakistan in their 40th year, as have a few others for their countries — Tendulkar now about 40, Bobby Simpson who was 42 when he played for Australia, and Brian Close of England who was 45 when he played his last Test match. Check the ages of Frank Woolley, Wilfred Rhodes, Miran Bux and Don Bradman and you may be able to appreciate this better. There are others who can easily make this list. It is fitness and form that must be the prime factors. Misbah and Younis today are in better shape and physical condition than some of our players in their early and mid twenties.

Misbah’s unflappable temperament and calm approach are great assets not only as a captain but also as a batsman. He has abundance of patience which was demonstrated in his two centuries each spanning 400 minutes against India in Tests. It is his attitude, dignity and quiet authority which make him an outstanding leader. He is not flamboyant nor an extrovert. At times you hardly notice him on the field. He lets every one go about their tasks and only intervenes when

absolutely essential. Maybe a degree in Management which he possesses has helped him manage the players better.

What have to be checked and tackled by the PCB and tour management are the rumours that there is disunity in the team. Misbah had meticulously and laboriously built a unified unit. Now it seems he is seeing the citadel crumble. This is dangerous. In fact some say he is fearful that if this trend continues the results of the up coming ODIs in South Africa may be on the same pattern as the tests. I shudder to contemplate.

I will leave you with the words of the genius American poet Mattie Stepanek who was born in 1990 and died in 2004 of a crippling disease but in spite of his illness wrote six books of poetry and 1 of essays each making it to the New York Times Best Sellers List: “Unity is strength... when there is teamwork and collaboration, wonderful things can be achieved.” He was saying nothing new. Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah had stressed the motto of unity, faith and discipline, and more than a couple of thousand years ago Aesop had said “United we stand; divided we fall.”

The point I am trying to stress is if a child can say and understand this why can’t we.

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caption

Misbah-ul-Haq

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s not the end
By Mushfiq Ahmad

The recently-concluded Test series against South Africa was the first one for Azhar Ali in which he seemed to be consistently failing. He managed just one fifty in six innings, scoring only 133 runs at a poor average of 22.

He had been making significant contributions since he made his debut against Australia in England in the summer of 2010, which is why he has a healthy average of 42 in Tests.

Asad Shafiq, who made his debut later in 2010 against South Africa, did score a century and a half century during the series, managing 199 runs, but his average of 33 was also not hugely impressive as he failed to score big on four other occasions.

But the biggest of all failures during the Test series was that of Mohammad Hafeez, who managed only 43 runs in six innings, at an average of 7.16. Twice did he get dismissed without scoring. Even Saeed Ajmal had a better average of 13 as he scored 68 runs in six innings.

Taufeeq Umar, who had to come back from South Africa because of an injury, has also not been batting well. He scored just one fifty in the three match Test-series against Sri Lanka last year. Before that, against England, too, he scored just one half century in six innings.

So is it time for our selectors to start their quest for a reliable opening pair afresh? Not yet, I believe. All the four players mentioned above plus Younis Khan and Misbah-ul-Haq have given Pakistan their most decent performances since 1990s when we used to have a solid batting line up in the shape of Saeed Anwar, Aamer Sohail, Inzamamul Haq, Ijaz Ahmed and Saleem Malik.

The selectors must not do anything which might prove destructive in the long run. The current batting line up deserves more chances. We must not forget that they were facing the world’s best pace attack in their own backyard.

Dale Steyn, Vernon Philander and Morne Morkel are among the five best fast bowlers in the world today together with Stuart Broad and James Anderson. Their failure against debutant Kyle Abbot in the third Test can be attributed to the psychological trauma they had suffered because of the defeats in the first two Tests.

The South African pace attack has destroyed all batting line-ups in the recent past including that of Australia. They dismissed Australia for 47 in November 2011, didn’t they? The Aussies had Watson, Ponting, Clarke and Hussey, but the only ones to enter double figures were their No 9 and 11.

It should also be kept in mind that it was about after 20 months that Pakistan were playing Test cricket outside Asia. Such a huge gap has to have its impact.

Besides, it was not just poor batting that cost Pakistan the series. The bowlers didn’t do well either. Umar Gul, our most experienced pacer, managed just five wickets from two games. Saeed Ajmal, who has been the main wicket-taking bowler for Pakistan for over two years, performed admirably in the second Test, but got almost nothing in the first and the third.

So it will be prudent not to touch the batting line up when the selectors draw up the team for the next Test series. They have to keep faith in the boys.

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caption

Asad Shafiq (left) and Azhar Ali

 

 

 

The ODI battle
By Khurram Mahmood

The management and fans were hopeful about Pakistan’s chances in the recently concluded Test series against South Africa, expecting bowlers to play a crucial role in winning a Test series for the first time on the South African soil.

All were confident that their pace battery consisting of Umar Gul, Junaid Khan, Muhammad Irfan, Rahat Ali and Ehsan Adil with the help of spinners Saeed Ajmal and Abdul Rehman would be able to contain the experienced Proteas batting lineup.

These were Pakistan’s best available bowlers, but the result proved that talent alone is not enough to beat the world number one team.

Pakistan are no longer the force they used to be in the late eighties and early nineties. People fail to realise that matches are won through better techniques, spirit and team effort.

But more than the failure of bowlers it was our batting which disappointed the nation. The conditions in South Africa are always difficult for Pakistani batsmen as they are not used to playing on hard and grassy pitches. The lack of experience of playing on different pitches and poor selection of shots against swinging and rising deliveries can be attributed as the root causes of Pakistan’s humiliating 3-0 defeat in the Test series.

The under-par performance of the batsmen created pressure for the bowlers due to which they could not deliver the goods.

Now the Test series is over, the second Twenty20 International is being played today and five One-day International matches are ahead.

Some players have joined the team for these limited-overs games, but they have very little time to adjust to the difficult conditions.

Misbah-ul-Haq, Younis Khan, Shahid Afridi, Shoaib Malik, Muhammad Hafeez, Imran Farhat and Akmal brothers have vast experience of international cricket, but to beat South Africa on their home ground they will need to produce something special.

Before this One-day International series, 57 matches have been played between the two teams. South Africa have a clear edge with 38 wins, while Pakistan have been successful only 18 times.

Surprisingly, in first 10 One-day Internationals Pakistan dominated with 7 wins, but the winning ratio changed afterwards drastically. From January 1995 to May 2000, Pakistan failed to win even one of the 14 ODIs played against South Africa.

South Africa’s 392/6 at Centurion in February 2007 is the highest total between the two teams. Pakistan’s best has been 351/4 in Durban in the same season.

Pakistan were bowled out for just 89 at Mohali in 2006, while South Africa’s lowest ODI score against Pakistan was 101 at Sharjah in 2000.

Pakistan’s win by 182 runs at Port Elizabeth in 2002 is the biggest victory between the two teams, while South Africa beat Pakistan by 164 runs at Centurion in 2007.

South African all-rounder Jacques Kallis is the most successful batsman with 1,217 runs in 40 matches at an average of 43.46 with one hundred and 10 fifties.

For Pakistan former middle-order batsman Muhammad Yousuf is still the highest run-getter with 1116 runs in 34 ODIs, averaging 34.87, including 2 centuries and 9 fifties.

Former Pakistan opener Saleem Elahi played the longest ODI innings (135) at Port Elizabeth in 2002, while Daryll Cullinan’s 124 in Nairobi in 1996 is the best score from any South African batsman against Pakistan.

Former Pakistan skipper Waqar Younis took 58 wickets in 32 matches at an average of 24.89. Makhaya Ntini is the most successful South African bowler against Pakistan with 49 wickets in 25 appearances, averaging 20.24.

Wasim Akram’s 16-5 in East London in 1993 is the best ODI bowling performance for Pakistan, while Ntini is just behind him with 21-5 in Mohali in 2006.

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Swept every which way

The breakneck pace at which the game is played these days means the visitors would have evaded immediate proper scrutiny of their prowess in the Test rubber. Still, here are some facts to test your patience.

Stats prove Pakistan have a serious case for not having foreign coaches. Since 1999, it has been at the receiving end of five whitewashes: Richard Pybus (0-3 Australia in Australia, 1999); Pybus again (0-3 Australia in UAE, 2002-3); Pybus again (0-2 South Africa in South Africa 2002-3); Bob Woolmer (0-3 Australia in Australia 2004-5) and Dav Whatmore (0-3, South Africa in South Africa 2013).

Mohammad Hafeez registered two first ball ducks and two other single digit scores for a round tally of 43 in six innings (the lowest by any Pakistani Test opener for a six-inning run — astonishingly, he scored only five off Dale Steyn, who removed him four times), and still had the audacity to say there was nothing wrong with his technique. Led by Saeed Ajmal (68) who scored more than him, three other bowlers and a failing keeper also had better batting averages than the opener.

The average opening stand was only 12.58 and the collective average of the openers just 16.13 which is the second lowest (min. 20 innings) since 1970!

Pakistan’s batting averages were topped by pedestrian bowler Tanvir Ahmed (54) and the bowling by suspect opening batsman Mohammad Hafeez (5 for [email protected])!

While the Proteas were running through Pakistan’s top order, innings after innings, Pakistan’s top bowlers were struggling to dislodge even their lower order. South African bowlers Robbie Peterson (37.66), Vernon Philander (32.33) and Dale Styen (27) had comparable batting averages to Pakistan’s top three willow wielders: Imran Farhat (36.50), Asad Shafiq (33.16) and Younis Khan (30.66)! —K.R

caption

Mohammad Hafeez... registered two first ball ducks and two other single digit scores for a round tally of 43 in six innings

 

 

 

 

 

 

Surrender in South Africa
The whitewash exposed lack of leadership, armoury and worst still, belonging to the game at this level
By Kamran Rehmat

While every Tom, Dick and Harry had predicted Pakistan would be looking down the barrel of a pace gun in South Africa, it was generally assumed they would not necessarily need a pacemaker to ward off the blues.

In the end, Misbah’s misery men didn’t even have the heart — or stomach — for a fight, save for one aberration in the second Test on a Newlands track that had considerably eased out.

However, there, too, the visitors contrived to fritter away a hard-earned advantage by first allowing Robbie Peterson, who had by then forgotten how to bowl to get away with murder with the bat, before themselves losing their marbles in the decisive third innings when perhaps, another 50-odd runs could have made all the difference.

The last six wickets fell for 22 and the familiar collapse was triggered by skipper Misbah-ul-Haq’s wild sweep, which ended in a top-edge taken behind the wickets. South Africa of course, is hardly a happy hunting ground for Misbah in terms of finishing off the meal ticket.

The no-brainer was reminiscent of the fatal Marillier shot he had attempted against India in the final over of the inaugural T20 World Cup final in 2007. To give the devil his due, Misbah was man enough to admit his poor stroke took away from all the hard work put in by Saeed Ajmal, and before him the only Pakistani partnership of merit put together in the series by Younis Khan and Asad Shafiq.

However, nothing can take away from the complete management failure in preparing the team for this much billed defining tour for Pakistan cricket. The challenge of facing the world’s best outfit in their back alley required not just serious analysis but also some mettle out-of-the-box.

A lot is being said about the wet tennis ball theory. One can recall how Imran Khan made effective use of the ploy on cement tracks ahead of the 1988 West Indies tour and got his batsmen to sweat for days under the wringer before they set sails for what was then billed as the clash of titans — Khan’s Pakistan vs Sir Viv’s West Indies in the latter’s feared den.

Not afraid of throwing his best for a cockfight, Khan publicly spoke of how the only, but significant, missing link in Javed Miandad’s grand résumé was a Caribbean cruise. Miandad responded by scoring one ODI and two back-to-back Test hundreds against the best pace attack in the world.

No such luck a quarter of a century later with decidedly much more regimented coaching staff, physical trainers, nutritionist, masseur, data analyst, psychologist and what have you.

Even though at the end of the day, it is down to the professional players to mind their business, the spectacular slide raises serious questions about Dav Whatmore’s form. Was he lulled by the formbook on familiar territory, away from the heat you encounter on seaming, bouncy pitches in the ‘white’ arc of the ICC?

Since he enjoys a reputation on the international circuit, and has, as a professional coach been there and done it, he has a serious case to answer for failing not only to prepare the team, particularly at the cerebral level or employing innovative methods to meet the challenge.

Of deep concern is the utter lack of consistency, especially among the senior players. This is compounded by poor fitness and indiscipline. There are no signs of benchmark for individual performance and growth either. Setting goals for Pakistani players is all the more important given how temperamental some of them are — the ones who take their place for granted.

Consider: Taufeeq Umar and Haris Sohail had to be sent home before they could feature in any consequential tie. The latter’s selection is mired in controversy with reports that Misbah insisted on his inclusion. Then, the ageing Tanvir Ahmed, whose friendly medium is hardly the stuff of dreams, and Rahat Ali, who is not cut and dried for this level despite his expensive six-wicket haul in the last Test, were sent in as reinforcement.

As for discipline, there was Junaid Khan, who instead of building on his promise with the cherry decided to channel it through a water scooter and not for the first time, crashed. The team management lied about the nature of his injury, and at the time of writing this, he was still with the boys.

Umar Gul is known to have mood swings and there’s no skipper in the last half a decade who has managed to push him beyond the realm of rhythm-for-form. His fitness has been suspect for a long time, yet he continues to ride his luck since he is the self-styled kingpin.   

When was the last time a team ventured into a Test match with three rookie pacers (Irfan, Rahat, Adil) with two Test appearances and three wickets amongst them as happened at Centurion? 

That pretty much summed up Pakistan’s lack of leadership, armoury and worst still, belonging to the game at this level.

The writer is a former

editor of The News based

in Islamabad.

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PHF’s financial woes
By Ijaz Chaudhry

A few days back, the PHF secretary dropped a bombshell: “Pakistan will not be able to send its national team for the Azlan Shah tournament in Malaysia starting from March 9 and also the junior team for the under 18 Asia Cup in Singapore in June unless the government releases the funds.”

Asif Bajwa blamed the federal and the provincial government of Punjab. “The federal government has not released the promised grant of 100 million rupees while the Punjab government had also promised us 30 million rupees which is yet to reach us.”

The present set up of the PHF, Qasim Zia the president and Asif Bajwa the secretary, came to the helm in late 2008. Though former internationals of repute, both owe elevation to these offices to their political connections. Qasim Zia is a sitting member of the Punjab assembly. More importantly, he is a member of the central executive committee of the PPP, ruling the country since 2008. While the man behind Asif Bajwa’s appointment is his namesake, a very prominent PML-N politician, hailing from his home town of Sialkot. The PML-N was the coalition partner of the PPP in centre when the two gentlemen assumed the charge.

The PML-N has also been ruling the Punjab province since 2008.  Hence, it is incomprehensible that the duo has not been able to get the promised money. Throughout their tenure, Qasim and Bajwa have been praising these governments for extending financial help to hockey.

It comes to about Rs850 million. Now all of a sudden ‘bankruptcy’ has been declared. It means the PHF was managing its affairs on a day-to-day basis. They hadn’t saved anything from this Rs850 million.

The secretary has put down the refusal of foreign teams to visit Pakistan as another main reason for the financial crunch. Okay. But there are alternatives. Pakistan cricket has also been facing the same scenario but the bilateral Test and limited overs series have been held at neutral venues. A Pakistan-India hockey contest has always been a crowd-puller, even in Europe and the Americas.

Instead of trying to have foreign teams in Pakistan, the PHF should have tried to arrange Indo-Pak series in countries with large expat population from the sub-continent. Gulf is one such market. With no Indo Pak bilateral cricket for last many years, a hockey series would have attracted big crowds and brought good money for the PHF.

A series with back-to-back matches in Dubai, Sharjah and Qatar could be an excellent money spinner. It might surprise some of us but it was in the Gulf where prize money in international hockey was introduced for the first time.

It was Brig MH Atif, the former secretary of the PHF, who realised that the Middle East would soon be a major sports centre. The Pakistan-India hockey series organised by the great visionary in Kuwait and Dubai in the mid ‘80s were the first real international hockey activity in that part of the world.

Then he went a step further. The two four-nation tournaments in Dubai and Kuwait in January 1986 were the first international hockey events to officially offer prize money anywhere in the world.

And it was before Bukhatir’s cricket show in the UAE.

Qatar, with world’s fastest economic growth rate of 19 percent, is a potential gold mine for hockey. The sport made remarkable progress in the sheikdom during last year ó staged the first round of the World Hockey League and, in December, hosted the very high profile Asian Champions Trophy.

For the final between Pakistan and India, more than 7,000 fans turned up and reportedly some paid 500 riyals to buy tickets with face value of only 10.

Away from the Middle East, countries like England, Canada and the USA, all with large population from the Subcontinent, also offer good opportunities.

England and Canada have good national sides, so tri-nation series won’t be a bad idea. A member of the PHF’s executive board told me he has already been approached by interested Canadian parties.

Then there is the matter of getting domestic sponsorship. That requires astute marketing and publicity skills. Admittedly, cricket snatches the lion’s share in Pakistan. But other than cricket, hockey has no big rivals. Domestic cricket tournaments in Pakistan are also getting good sponsorship. The domestic T20 tournaments are projected over the media, luring good audiences both on the ground and TV. Why can’t the PHF stage colourful intercity tournaments on the same pattern?

The incompetency of the national hockey federation has no end. Just look at the official website of the PHF; not updated for a long time.

In short, the PHF remained dependent on the government grants and largely failed to generate income through other sources.

The PHF not only failed to generate money from its own sources but also failed to utilize properly the money showered by the government. The money lavished by the government was also squandered ó for example, on academies. Immediately after coming to the power, the PHF came up with the idea of the hockey academies. It was welcomed by all and sundry. But everyone was taken aback when the formation of no less than 18 academies was announced. The sensible voices opined that initially only four or five academies should have been established. Depending on their performance, the number could be gradually increased.                                                                                         

Apparently, the intention of the PHF was to oblige its near and dear ones, who were appointed coaches at these academies. Despite spending tens of millions of rupees, the output from the academies is disappointing as they have failed to produce any outstanding talent.

On the overseas tours of the national teams, there are always a number of joy riders. The scribe covered the 2009 test series between England and Pakistan in the English city of Cannock for a British magazine.

The Pakistani team was accompanied by the omnipresent secretary PHF, the full selection committee and quite a few of the federation’s favourite journalists.

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Will the change in  PCB constitution
make much difference?By Syed Khalid Mahmood

It may be mere coincidence but the much talked about amendments in the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) came just a day after Pakistan’s cricket team was whitewashed in the Test series in South Africa.

In a country where cricket is the most popular sport by a long way the powers that be certainly need to do more than just amending or revising the constitution which has currently been carried out upon the guidelines of the International Cricket Council (ICC).

The many of the initiatives of the current PCB Chairman, Chaudhary Zaka Ashraf, including the promulgation of long delayed constitution, are steps in the right direction but the uncertainty remains about the future of the game in Pakistan because of the events of the past.

Pakistan cricket has witnessed so many ups and downs over the years that one can’t be sure what’s coming next. Some of the administrators succeeded in raising the bar through visionary and decisive leadership while quite a few have been guilty of hurting the cause of the game immensely.

The damage caused by the immediate past chairman of the PCB, Ijaz Butt, was immeasurable to say the least. His inconsistent policies put the Pakistan cricket in the dark ages.

His successor, Zaka Ashraf was also appointed by the same person, President Asif Zardari.

Presently the President, in his capacity of being the Patron-in-Chief of the PCB, is the sole authority to nominate the Chairman of the Board, without seeking any approval or may be even advice from any house or body.

Many quarters were critical of the system of governance in the Board for decades now with the Chairman being considered solely responsible for calling the shots, bypassing the other stakeholders.

What about the future? The new constitution of the PCB, to be promulgated shortly, seems to be democratic in nature as representation has been given to the regions as well as departments.

According to the reports, the new law proposes the establishment of a four-member committee created by the current chairman, which would comprise of the President of President and cricket officials from the provinces and the PCB.

The President would have two votes and other members of the committee would have one vote each, according to the constitution’s provisions. The period of the chairman’s tenure would be four years and he would only be answerable to the President of the country.

The election of the Chairman has to be ratified by the General Council members, including representatives of the regional associations and departments.

The Chairman in the new constitution will have powers to appoint the Chief Operating Officer, Chief Financial officer and takes decisions on the captain, coach and team issues without seeking approval from the General Council as is the case in the existing constitution.

The long-standing demand of the regions and departments is also being fulfilled in the new the constitution as a couple of technocrats and as many former cricketers are to be elected in the Governing Council by regions and departments.

Well theoretically these are indeed positive steps and they should help in evolving a system that would allow Pakistan to continue producing world-class cricketers.

But the amendment in constitution should be treated just as the first step. It won’t yield results until the PCB brings in professionalism and merit becomes the sole criterion in all selection matters. That’s how Pakistan could turn the tables in the cricket field. Otherwise the dream of becoming the No 1 team in the world may always remain a dream.

Democracy alone can’t guarantee success. Good governance is needed to put Pakistan back on the road to glory. The PCB Chairman has to lead by example and he has to set high standards.

There can’t be two opinions about the enormity of cricketing talent in Pakistan. It’s the sport in Pakistan although the country has not hosted any Test match or One-day International since April 2009. It’s time that the people running Pakistan cricket do their job in a professional manner.

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