and the Gojra riots
eyeing return to action in Montreal
The last call?
By Dr. Nauman Niaz
Accountability is a word that must be banned from cricket in Pakistan because it is the most useless item floating on top of the national sewer. What great leap of administrative imagination could it require to ensure-truly ensure, that cricket is being promoted in Pakistan. I recall these happenings because it seems that grey matter is still something of a mystery item up there in Lahore and apparently in short supply.
We all attack the cricket government of a lack of vision or commitment but they should be actually forgiven if they are unable to produce and perform because it is clear they just can't add two plus two without messing up the things.
This PCB regime led by Ijaz Butt must be referred to the state or condition of not meeting a desirable or intended objective if it ever was intended, and may be viewed as the opposite of success. The criteria for failure are heavily dependent on context of use, and may be relative to a particular observer or belief system.
A situation considered to be a failure by one might be considered a success by another, particularly in cases of direct competition or a zero-sum game. Similarly, the degree of success or failure in a situation may be differently viewed by distinct observers or participants, such that a situation that one considers to be a failure, another might consider to be a success, a qualified success or a neutral situation.
Butt's regime has failed, that's a consensus. Theirs has been failure to anticipate, failure to perceive and failure to carry out their task. It would be interesting to find useful and effective criteria or heuristics to judge their failure.
Messed up they are; the Ijaz Butt-led PCB regime has been rhetorical regarding not being manipulated by nefarious elements -- as these elements are always called, to spread false propaganda, malign the cricket government and offer no proper criticism -- the only criticism regimes like Butt's like. No one is willing to give them any benefit about the severe austerity measures to such an extent that most functionaries are content with a plate of grass for lunch, as long as it is served on Wedgewood crockery of course. After all some standards have to be maintained. Butt didn't endorse release of the annual bonuses for PCB's senior and junior staff keeping in view the austerity drive and on the contrary, an elevator worth Rs3.2 million was installed to help the Chairman avoid climbing the stairs. And unfortunately the access to the elevator had to be from a room that was occupied by Khizer Hayat. He is now out of his office.
Furthermore, and paradoxically, after having convinced England to host Pakistan for a full tour in 2010 including four Tests, five one-day internationals and two Twenty20 matches, the MOU signed was grossly undervalued. PCB had agreed to a miserly US$3.5 million. ECB had earlier offered them US$1.8 million in accordance with the Future Test Programmes, since this tour wasn't part of the FTP it could have been sold in millions.
According to a rough estimate, the sources at the IGM had estimated that the ECB should earn between US$20 million to US$25 million but the Chairman PCB supported by his loyalist and brother-in-law Mohammad Naeem didn't require to negotiate? Pakistan Cricket Board could have made a handful amount at least half of what is expected to be taken by the England and Wales
Cricket Board but inefficiency here has been the greatest impediment. It looked a case of austerity at a wrong place?
There is absolutely every reason to feel despondent about the workings of the Pakistan Cricket Board, where, if anywhere, is it heading. Some people have been moaning that things are simply getting from bad to worse, and no help is at hand. It looks as if the PCB requires hiring high-salaried liars to cover crumbs and sell them as caviar. According to the PCB chairman, settlement with the ICC with reference to shifting of the fourteen World Cup 2011 matches outside Pakistan had been reached. It isn't like that. It is regrettable that the reason for PCB's optimism was in the resilience reflected in the faces and actions of men in Butt's close circle and who are running the board, although there is some concern amongst the lesser mortals about the reality. As reported, the PCB had decided to drag the ICC to the Court of Arbitration for Sports (CAS) for having taken an unlawful decision to take fourteen World Cup 2011 matches out of Pakistan keeping in view the security and geopolitical situation in the country.
PCB's stance, as they wetted their legal documents was that ICC wasn't the competent authority rather IDI (ICC Development International) had the powers to take such decisions and that also under a given time frame. Interestingly, and as alleged, the IDI had endorsed ICC's decision and technically the Pakistan Cricket Board had virtually no feet to stand. The PCB despite their Chairman travelling all over the world to negotiate would only get what they had to get any way, with or without negotiations or court cases.
With such radical and insensible decisions taken, we are bereft because Nasim Ashraf is not amongst us, though his legacy lives and we are grateful for what he did for the PCB. He let the money plundered at least he wasn't signing undervalued documents and sitting on the compost.
Butt's problem has been his abruptness and the inability to trust people who are competent. People whom he relies upon are mostly inept and not up to it. No one will understand a word Butt has been saying and that hasn't worked. Pakistan's relationship with the ICC and the BCCI have been seriously jeopardised, on the small matter of integrity or honesty, there is silence, which is as it should be. How far can you live on those outdated beliefs? The fact is that it is just a few who feel low.
Even as cricket collapses around us, this will have no effect whatsoever on the establishment. Their life is humming along. This is funny as hell. I have to laugh when I see nonsense such as developing the Pakistani game put out by Butt's right wing as if their ideology hasn't failed utterly in every promise they made.
By Aamir Bilal
When Gojra was put to torch and human beings were burnt alive in the name of religion by the "miscreants," my head bowed in shame and distrust as I belong to a religion which descends peace and tolerance. These virtues of peace, tolerance and team play are installed in human personalities not just by religion but also by sport which is a microcosmic classroom, a teacher for all of life and opportunity to discover your innermost self.
Though Gojra has surfaced to limelight recently because of the indecent incident of ethnic riots but Gojra is also known in the history of national sport as the production house of hockey talent with a long list of fantastic and artistic players to mention.
These hockey stars include players from all sects and religion and played for the achievement of common goal, the glory of Pakistan. These stars were worshiped by the society as "social icons" who have, however, seized to exist because of the sad demise of hockey in the country, the reason of which is well known to all hockey enthusiasts.
The hockey sticks are now the batons in the hands of angry youth raging in the streets of Gojra, bent to explode their frustration instead of playing sport. President Putin of Russia was absolutely at the pulse of issue when addressing his countrymen after the famous red square riots stated, "I would like to see the students either in the play ground or hall of studies."
All great leaders including Chairman Mao and Nelson Mandela understood the power of youth and value the sport adds in creating national character. Sport unfortunately has never been understood as a science and a vehicle of social transformation by the non serious ad-hoc oriented leadership of the country.
Pakistan sports owe a lot to the Christian minority of Pakistan that produced outstanding sportsmen in almost all the sports. Young Men Christian Association (YMCA), Young Women Christian Association (YWCA) and missionary schools made significant contributions in developing the sport nursery of the country.
Unfortunately the blind nationalisation of educational institutions in the seventies followed by irrational education policies of Zia-ul-Haq in early eighties shook the very foundations of our education and sport system and forced a number of committed teachers and social workers to leave the country for good. Sport is now a lost cause and a game of musical chairs to adjust the blue-eyed boys for joy rides only.
Soon after the riots, politicians were running around to catch the media train to gain political mileage, however no hockey star in Gojra is now an icon worth the charisma of the great Manzoor junior or Shahnaz Shaikh, capable of acting as a catalyst of social integration for a fractured community.
Alas, sports are just fun for us with little understanding of its social, cultural, political, psychological and educational value that has resulted in our present day pathetic results in international sport.
The ancient war strategist Sun-Tzu believed that the key to triumph in battle is unity of purpose and heart. You can only win in a battle and sport if the group agrees to accept roles and their heart and souls are in to the teamís journey to victory. In his famous book, Values of the Game, Bill Bradley writes that "championships are not won unless a team has forged a high degree of unity, attainable only through the selflessness of each player" and that "untrammeled individualism destroys the chance for achieving victory".
In the present time, our sport input is highly individualised, driven by materialistic designs and limited vision of "tour abroad". We as a group of intelligent human beings donít even learn lessons from geese that fly together as a team in a V formation.
The flock thus travel 71 per cent farther than one goose could fly in the same amount of time. The geese honk encouragement to one another, helping those who are discouraged to keep up the pace. If a bird is sick or wounded, it flies out of formation, accompanied by friends who stay with it until it recovers.
We are a mighty nation of more than 160 million people, the only nuclear Muslim nation of the world blessed with fertile land and abundance of natural resources. What has gone wrong with us? Why are we floundering as a nation? Where is the leadership? Who would steer this turbulent boat? Are questions beyond the scope of this article, I only wish and hope that people at the helm of affairs must understand the power of sport as tool for social integration.
If our vocal politicians and senators become restless about the poor performance of Pakistan cricket team and are willing to throw the cricket board out of the window, what stops them of raising the issue of taking sports back to education? Why they donít raise their voice in the parliament that no housing authority would be approved without an elaborate sport facility? Why town developing authorities are not grilled in the senate standing committee sessions for not providing adequate sport facilities for the communities and why schools are given NOCs by respective ministries and departments to run their business without offering sport facilities to the students.
Gojra is indeed at the tip of the ice berg. Who knows what is in store for other sport cities like NawanKilli, Quetta and Sialkot? If the situation remains the same and no serious efforts are made by the government and private sector regarding engagement of youth in meaningful and constructive activities like sport, through a well thought out program in education institutions and communities, then history has a bad habit of repeating itself to remind human beings about the forgotten lessons in a bitter way. We hope and pray that sanity prevails and sport flourishes in our next generation that we may see better times living in peace and harmony with all sects and religions, who have equal rights in this motherland for all, called Pakistan.
Aamir Bilal is a qualified coach
By Hasan Junaid Iqbal
The busiest season for world tennis is underway, the Australian Open in Melbourne was followed by the French Open or "Ronald Garros" in Paris, Wimbeldon in England, and now the Rogers Cup starts in Montreal, Canada with the season-ending Grand Slam US Open after that.
Unfortunately Spain's Rafael Nadal, who got injured earlier this summer, has not featured since the French Open.
Ever since Nadal's shocking upset at the hands of the flat-hitting, Swede Robin Soderling in the fourth round of the Ronald Garros and subsequent withdrawal from Wimbledon, many have foolishly speculated that the Spaniard may have actually struck his last ball in competition as his ultra-physical game was bound to break down. But according to Nadal's coach -- Rafa's uncle -- Toni Nadal, the southpaw has sufficiently recovered and will renew his quest to retake that number one ranking; wresting it away from Roger Federer's mighty grip.
Rafa vows to return back to court in Montreal, he said on his web site that he'll arrive in Montreal to begin preparations for the August 10-16 hardcourt event.
"I'm happy to be back on court doing what I like with a racket in my hand," said the world No 2. "It was only a small workout, I didn't force anything, I just wanted to see how I would feel."
"I want to remain cautious. In a week and a half we will know more. But I'm happy with it so far," he said.
"My main objective is not to regain the No 1 ranking," Nadal said. "My main goal is to be well and happy to be playing tennis."
Every year July and August are set aside for well-deserved rest and vacation for the majority of top ranked players.
But just as students start to gear up for another dreaded year of school towards the end of their summer break, tennis players have to prepare for New York's September Slam by playing in the two Masters Series hard court events in Montreal and Cincinnati. And never have these events seemed to have mattered so much as they do this year. The reason -- Rafael Nadal's return to action. The sport has missed him. And for tennis to continue to thrive, a healthy Nadal is essential.
"Rafa will play in Montreal," Toni Nadal said, "It's good news for us."
"The level he'll be at is another matter. I don't think he'll be in very good form. He's been training well but without forcing things. The goal is to gradually pick up form for the US Open," the coach added.
Rogers Cup spokesman Louis-Philippe Dorais says organisers expect to hear from top-ranked Roger Federer in the next few days on whether he will play or not. Federer took a break after his wife gave birth to twins last month.
"I think most people figure we won't have him here," said Montreal tournament director EugËne Lapierre. "But unless he tells us directly, we'll think there's still a chance."
So is it "either me or you" sort of thing? Nobody knows for sure until the tournament starts.
The US Open has been rudely cast aside in this ongoing and historic rivalry. With their superlative-defying 2008 Wimbledon final -- one of three consecutive contested between the two -- and their meetings in Melbourne and Paris, Federer and Nadal have staged an incredible world tour but have left off arguably the most important city from their itinerary. With Nadal being a non-factor at the US Open; Federer has had his way of things rather easily, appearing nearly invincible on the hard courts.
In fact there hasn't been a US Open final of much drama since 1995 when Andre Agassi and Pete Sampras faced off and there hasn't even been a final that has gone the five set distance since 1988. And how fitting it would be to bookend the year with the incredible duo meeting in the finals of Slams. A premature thought for now. But we'll be allowed to dream about that possibility with more validity this week in Canada when we're once again treated to the singular game of the powerful and humble Nadal.
While former world No 1 Pete Sampras already cast the vote for Rafa by saying, that Rafael Nadal's career edge over Roger Federer is due to mental toughness, with the "man from Mallarca" holding a 13-7 record.
"Roger is playing tennis at a time when his opponents mainly all stay back on the baseline. No one scares him," said the 14-time Grand Slam champion.
"When I was playing, I was scared when I played Goran Ivanisevic on grass," Sampras said.
"Nadal concerns Roger, he's one guy who will always be mentally strong. he moves well and can hang with Roger -- it freaked Federer out in Australia when Nadal won the title."
"Roger needs to figure Nadal out in the next few years." he added.
Rafa, the defending champion, is ready as ever for the upcoming event but from the south of the border, the Wimbledon heartbreak, Andy Roddick is trying to get himself together.
The fifth-ranked US star who was out from the first-round at the $1.4 million ATP Washington Classic, having found perspective about the Swiss star's historic marathon five-set victory.
"Heartbreaking for me, but at the same time not a lot of people get a chance to play for that title. That was not lost on me," Roddick said. "Was it the greatest loss I've had as far as afterward?... Yeah, that hurt. But at the same time it's still a pretty good existence to play matches like that.
"I don't sit back and cry in my Cheerios."
Roddick has worked to keep his emotions in balance better than in the early days of his career, saying his normal evolution has played out before the world step by step.
"I've pretty much been portrayed as every style thing you can be," Roddick said. "After Wimbledon you are Andy Everyman, who everybody is rooting for. I think the meat and potatoes of who I am hasn't been covered yet."
Montreal Rogers Cup starts on Monday, August 10 (tomorrow).
The women's Rogers Cup, which begins from Augudt 17 in Toronto, is a Premier Five tournament, meaning it is entitled to a first-rate field but nothing like all 25 of the top-25, as organisers revealed two weeks ago.
Not included is Maria Sharapova, returning from shoulder surgery and ranked No 61. "She gets in with a wild card from the WTA Tour," tournament director Karl Hale said, "so we don't have to use any of the three we have."