cricket
Cricket stakeholders pulling in opposite directions
The problem is that we, as a nation, are not accustomed to bearing with criticism. Instead of trying to identify the problems that trigger criticism, we try to look for excuses and at the same time attack our opponents, who may, in fact, be our well-wishers
By Imran Farooqi
The Pakistan Cricket Board is having a nightmare of sorts these days. Neither the players are happy with its working nor is the Senate of Pakistan expressing its satisfaction over the functioning of the beleaguered body. The selectors and captain Younis Khan, who has just taken over from Shoaib Malik, aren't on the same wavelength either. Even the Board's officials are clueless on certain issues and finding it extremely difficult to defend their strange work ethic and actions.

Pakistan has a 100% win record against Sri Lanka at NSK
Former captain and coach Javed Miandad is the most successful batsman at National Stadium with 1393 runs in 17 Tests at a high average of over 58. He scored three centuries and eight fifties on his favourite ground
By Khurram Mahmood
Karachi is Pakistan's largest populated city with over 16 million people. People from every part of the country live here and enjoy their lives with different activities.

cricket
Pakistan cricket: The route to rout
The Senate's Standing Committee on Sports isn't a farce. In the past and they had only questioned about the hand-picked acolytes, all dissenters and those whose faces didn't fit were often cleansed then
By Dr Nauman Niaz
Whether the media concentrates on how the much-hyped PCB led by Mr Ijaz Butt will not be gutted standing up to Senate's Standing Committee on Sports, the controversy will have massive ramifications in Pakistan. It seems there is some sort of a fight over branding. It seems Pakistan cricket is caught between egos and image. The stakes involved are, to them, small.

We need to put our house in order
Ijaz Butt stretched the matter a bit too much by saying that "they (the Senators) have no power to tell us to do something". Agreed on this point that their mandate is limited, but did the Senate ask for anything inappropriate?
By Muhammad Asif Khan
The recent senate-chairman spat made matters even worse as the rift between Javed Miandad and PCB Chairman Ijaz Butt took an ugly turn when allegations of asking for hefty amount were levelled against Miandad. The former DG might not have been treated well at the PCB headquarters but majority of the attendees at the Senate committee meeting were full of praise for him.

Dented by drugs and terror Legendary England all-rounder
Sir Ian Botham denounced the Antigua Test as a 'joke' after the first day's play was abandoned because of a dangerous outfield
By Waris Ali
It is the world of cricket which revolves around the three versions of the game which are Tests, ODIs and Twenty20 cricket. But it is far more replete with non-cricketing factors and incidents. From the dope tests to security concerns and the ever rising incidents of misbehaviour, international cricket has suffered serious dents in its professionalism and gentlemanliness.

 

cricket

Cricket stakeholders pulling in opposite directions

The problem is that we, as a nation, are not accustomed to bearing with criticism. Instead of trying to identify the problems that trigger criticism, we try to look for excuses and at the same time attack our opponents, who may, in fact, be our well-wishers

 

By Imran Farooqi

The Pakistan Cricket Board is having a nightmare of sorts these days. Neither the players are happy with its working nor is the Senate of Pakistan expressing its satisfaction over the functioning of the beleaguered body. The selectors and captain Younis Khan, who has just taken over from Shoaib Malik, aren't on the same wavelength either. Even the Board's officials are clueless on certain issues and finding it extremely difficult to defend their strange work ethic and actions.

The recent briefing by the PCB to the Senate's Standing Committee on Sports has not only raised several questions about certain issues, but has also created serious doubts in people's minds about the capabilities and sincerity of those who are supposed to work for the development of the game at the domestic and international level and are reaping handsome monetary benefits for rendering their 'services'.

If press reports are to be believed -- and there is no reason why they shouldn't be -- one got the impression that during the course of the meeting with the senators the PCB chief did not come across as a well-informed administrator and barely satisfied the body with his replies.

On the other hand, it was heartening to note that the Senate panel had invited all those people whose inputs are necessary for determining the reasons that have brought the game to where it stands today. The opinions of former and current officials of the PCB and those who have in past spent a considerable period of time in different capacities around the squad are crucial to finding out what is wrong and where.

But it's a bit unfortunate that those who were in attendance did not seem to have come prepared and were, therefore, caught off-guard. Even more regrettable is the fact that those responsible for running the Board and those who're directly associated with the team seem to be heading in different directions and nobody is willing to take or share the blame for the utter chaos that is currently surrounding the game.

That was probably the reason nobody could explain, for example, what compelled Javed Miandad to pull out of his job. Was he demanding more than what was being offered to him, or was he being forced to work the way the chairman wanted him to? Or was it just a matter of clash of egos? Miandad claims money and power were not the factors he was making all the noise about. The PCB tells us the former skipper declined the offer owing to monetary reasons. So how do we know who's right?

With myriad problems already afflicting the team, the PCB just cannot afford a fight at the administrative front, and that, too, against a body of the elected representatives of the people. By firing a salvo at the senators Butt has not made a wise move, and things can easily get out of hands and may well spell a disaster for him. He has again been summoned by the senators, and this time he needs to be careful in his approach and must exercise extreme caution in choosing his words as he speaks before the panel.

It's the right of the Senate members to investigate matters of national importance, and if they're making sincere efforts for cricket's sake, why should one doubt their motives and actions? It's the right of everyone who loves Pakistan and who keeps the game's interest close to his heart to know why the team are not doing well and why no sincere steps are being taken for putting cricket on a sound footing in the country. We all like to see the game with a strong base in Pakistan, and Butt, too, won't be thinking differently.

But the problem is that we, as a nation, are not accustomed to bearing with criticism. Instead of trying to identify the problems that trigger criticism, we try to look for excuses and at the same time attack our opponents, who may, in fact, be our well-wishers.

The senators have raised some genuine points that need to be addressed. From Miandad's 'resignation' to the financial irregularities in the PCB that have been identified by the parliamentarians, there are problems all over and unless somebody is prepared to show a bold front things will never change for the better. And can there be a better person for accomplishing this task than Butt? He has got a very good and sensible team by his side which just need some supervision and clarity of thought. In order to produce positive results and develop the game he needs to think and act positively. He can answer his critics by streamlining the working of the Board and ensuring regular cricketing assignments for the national team.

Sides -- apart from those coming from the sub-continent -- are not willing to tour Pakistan and a good number of home series involving Australia, the West Indies and India have already been cancelled. The Champions Trophy, too, has been moved, and though the PCB has reiterated its resolve to co-host the 2011 World Cup along with India, Sri Lanka, and Bangladesh and might be making foolproof security arrangements for the visiting teams, chances of success are quite remote to be honest.

The ICC has already made its intentions clear by stating that "World Cup organisers have been asked to keep alternate venues in mind as a security precaution".

In its short stint, the Butt administration has made too many mistakes and it's time to make amends. It must now focus on issues that warrant urgent attention. With a new captain at the helm and cracks clearly visible as far as the PCB-players relations are concerned, Butt needs to adjust his priorities. Instead of engaging himself in a useless war of words with his critics and opponents that will lead to nowhere he must let his actions do the work.

Former captain and coach Javed Miandad is the most successful batsman at National Stadium with 1393 runs in 17 Tests at a high average of over 58. He scored three centuries and eight fifties on his favourite ground

By Khurram Mahmood

Karachi is Pakistan's largest populated city with over 16 million people. People from every part of the country live here and enjoy their lives with different activities.

In sports, cricket is the most popular game of the city. The people of Karachi love cricket but unfortunately most international teams have genrally refused to play here due to security reasons.

After the 9/11 incident, Karachi regularly missed out international matches mostly because of security concerns. Touring India played a One-day International here in 2003 that cleared the way for its return to host international matches.

The National Stadium is the main international cricket ground of the city. The first Test at National Stadium Karachi was played from 27th February to 1st March 1955 between Pakistan and India, while Pakistan played its first One-day International at NSK in November 1980 against West Indies. Only one Twenty20 match has been played here, between Pakistan and Bangladesh in April 2008. A quarter-final match of the 1996 World Cup was also played here.

The first Test at National Stadium Karachi was played in 1955. It was a four-day match that ended without producing a result.

Pakistan captain Abdul Hafeez Kardar won the first toss here and elected to bat. But his decision backfired when the Pakistan team bowled out for just 162 runs. Wicket-keeper batsman Imtiaz Ahmed's 37 was the highest score. GS Ramchand was the chief destroyer with 6-49.

The last Test played here was in October 2007 against South Africa that was won by the visitors comfortably by 160 runs. Slow left-arm spinner Abdul Rehman took 8-110 in his debut Test.

The highest total (599-9) at National Stadium was scored by Pakistan against India in January 2006 while any visiting team's highest total at this ground is 507 by England scored in February 1962. At NSK 500 or more totals have been scored four times, two by the Pakistan team and twice by England.

The highest Test aggregate (1585) was made between Pakistan and New Zealand in October 1976. The Test ended without producing any result.

As far as the lowest total at National Stadium Karachi is concerned it is 80 by Australia in October 1956. Pakistan's lowest total at this ground is 128 runs against West Indies in December 1980. The lowest match aggregate here is 535 runs for the loss of 31 wickets between Pakistan and Australia in October 1956, a Test that was won by Pakistan by nine wickets.

The biggest victory at NSK by an innings and 188 runs was achieved by Pakistan against Australia in September 1988. As far as victory by wickets margins are concerned, Pakistan won here three times by 10 wickets.

The narrowest victory (160 runs) was attained by South Africa in October 2007 while Pakistan's smallest success (by 199 runs) came against West Indies in November 2006.

Only once a team won by one wicket when Pakistan beat Australia in September 1994. Inzamam-ul-Haq and Mushtaq Ahmed shared unexpected 57 runs partnership for the last wicket.

Former captain and coach Javed Miandad is the most successful batsman at National Stadium with 1393 runs in 17 Tests at a high average of over 58. He scored three centuries and eight fifties on his favourite ground. His 211 against Australia in 1988 is still the highest score from any batsman at this ground. Former Pakistan skipper Saleem Malik scored the most (four) centuries in 13 Tests at this venue.

Former Indian opener Sunil Gavaskar is the highest run-getter for any visiting team here with 370 runs in three matches including two hundreds and one fifty with an average of 61.66.

On the bowling side, former great leg-spinner and present chief selector Abdul Qadir is the most successful bowler with 59 wickets in 13 Tests at an average of 26.62.

Ray Bright of Australia is the highest wicket-taker from among any overseas bowlers with 13 scalps in only two Tests.

Former great Imran Khan's 8-60 against India in December 1982 is the best innings bowling performance at NSK while Phil Edmonds of England's 7-66 is the best bowling figure for any touring side. Fazal Mahmood's 13-114 against Australia in 1956 are the best match bowling figures at National Stadium Karachi.

Former wicket-keeper Saleem Yousuf is the most successful fielder behind the wicket with 30 dismissals in seven Tests played here. As a fielder Javed Miandad has taken the most, 17, catches in the same number of matches here.

Aamer Sohail and Ijaz Ahmed's 298 runs for the first wicket against West Indies in 1997 still is the best partnership for any wicket at NSK.

The best partnership from any touring side was shared by Ted Dexter and Peter Parfitt from England who scored 188 runs for the fourth wicket in 1962 at this ground.

National Stadium Karachi remains ae lucky venue for Pakistan. Before starting the current Test between Pakistan and Sri Lanka, 40 Tests had been played here. Pakistan have won 23 Tests while only England and South Africa remained successful once each at this venue while 17 Tests ended without producing any result.

Pakistan's success rate is 100% against Sri Lanka at National Stadium. Before the ongoing Test Pakistan and Sri Lanka four times faced each other at NSK and always Pakistan came out victorious from the ground.

The writer works in the art department at 'The News' in Karachi

[email protected]

 

Sri Lanka skipper Mahela Jayawardene is certain to reach his 8000

Test runs feat. After scoring 41 more runs, he will become the first Sri Lankan, sixth Asian and 20th batsman of the world to bag this distinction

By Ghalib Mehmood Bajwa

Pakistan finally managed to break its 14-month Test drought yesterday (Saturday) thanks to the Sri Lanka cricket team's bold approach and great commitment to the cause of the game. The Karachi Test is Pakistan's first five-day game since the third Test against India at Bangalore in December 2007. It is pertinent to mention here that Pakistan did not get a single Test at home or abroad during the last year due to the so-called security concerns.

Pakistan's 14-month gap between two Test matches is probably the third largest in the modern-day cricket for a Test nation after South African apartheid period of over 20 years and Zimbabwe's on-going absence of about four years from Test cricket.

After a gloomy 2008, Pakistan's Test drought could have prolonged in the early part of the current year, following India's refusal to make a trip but fortunately a bold and timely offer from Sri Lanka changed the whole scenario and Pakistan got a chance to have some Test cricket at home.

In this testing time, Sri Lanka extended much wanted support to Pakistan when they expressed their willingness to play Test and ODI series in Pakistan. Sri Lanka Cricket's former chairman and captain Arjuna Ranatunga's encouraging comments regarding security situation in Pakistan were a great boost for a depressed nation.

Ranatunga had expressed his complete satisfaction over the security situation in Pakistan saying "Pakistan has proved it can provide adequate security, as it did during the Asia Cup Cricket tournament".

Sri Lanka's positive approach and in response Pakistan's excellent security measures showed that other leading cricket teams including India were making bogus excuses regarding security problem in Pakistan. The fresh development is a strong message for the rest of the cricketing world that Pakistan is a safe country to play cricket.

It is to be noted here that Sri Lankan cricket stars are as great and valued as the Australians and others are. If Sri Lankan greats Muttiah Muralitharan, Sanath Jayasuriya, Mahela Jayawardene, Chaminda Vaas etc can play cricket in Pakistan without any fear, why not the Australians, English, South Africans, Indians and New Zealanders etc?

In response to Sri Lanka's brave stand, Pakistan made excellent and standard security arrangements for the guest cricketers during the recent three-match ODI rubber in Karachi and Lahore.

The current tour is Sri Lanka's seventh Test trip to Pakistan and the 12th Test series overall between the two nations (excluding the Asian Test Championship matches).

Pakistan have been victorious in six Test series as compared to Sri Lanka's two. Interestingly, Pakistan suffered both series losses at home in 1995 and 1999-00. However, they won three Test rubbers each in Sri Lanka and at home.

Before Karachi Test, both the teams have played 32 Test matches, out of which Pakistan have won 15 while in seven encounters, Sri Lanka emerged victorious.

Overall Pakistan had 335 Test appearances (103 victories and 89 defeats) while the Sri Lankan cricket team have featured in 182 five-day games with 56 victories and 67 losses).

The visiting side looks quite established professionally on the back of great depth in bowling and batting departments. They are being regarded as one of the top four Test and ODI teams due to their world class batting and bowling line-ups and can easily be termed as favourites for the two-Test rubber.

However, Pakistan had a psychological advantage over their opponents. They entered the Karachi Test as winners of the previous Test series between the two countries. Remember, Pakistan won a two-Test rubber in Sri Lanka under Inzamam-ul-Haq three years back.

Pakistan enjoyed a clear edge as far as past results and individual performances are concerned.

Pakistan won their inaugural Test match against Sri Lanka, who were then international cricket's minnows, at Karachi in 1982. However, Sri Lanka recorded their first-ever Test victory against Pakistan exactly after four years in 1986 at Colombo. Sri Lanka's first-ever Test triumph on Pakistan soil was in 1995.

It is to be noted here that Sri Lanka lost a Test series in Pakistan 18 years ago in 1991-92. Till then they have played three Test rubbers in Pakistan with two victories and a drawn series.

Pakistan enjoyed a clear edge in another statistical analysis. Pakistan scored the biggest innings total (600-8 dec at Galle in 2000) so far in Tests between the two countries. 528 was the Sri Lanka's biggest innings total which they recorded at Lahore in 2002.

The Kandy Test centre has been very unfavorable for Sri Lanka when it comes to lowest innings totals. Their top four low innings totals (71, 73, 101 and 109) against Pakistan have been registered at the same venue. Pakistan's lowest innings score against Sri Lanka is 132.

Sri Lanka have never beaten Pakistan by an innings margin while Pakistan did so on six occasions with an innings and 175 runs victory at Dhaka being the biggest one.

Overall seven double centuries have been scored so far with four belonging to Pakistan. However, Sri Lanka had the honour of scoring two biggest individual scores -- 253 by Sanath Jayasuriya at Faisalabad in 2004 and 230 by Kumar Sangakkara at Lahore in 2002. Ijaz Ahmed scored the biggest knock (211) for Pakistan against Sri Lanka.

The hurriedly-arranged brief Test series has many significant reasons to be remembered for.

Interestingly, the series will be the first and last Test assignment simultaneously for both rival captains Younis Khan and Mahela Jayawardene. Younis, who already has led Pakistan in patches, replaced Shoaib Malik as regular captain after the recent 2-1 ODI series loss against Sri Lanka at home.

On the other hand prolific batsman Jayawardene has decided to step down as Sri Lanka captain after the two-match Test series in Pakistan to put more focus on his batting.

Some half dozen cricketers from both sides can achieve different milestones during the just started Test rubber.

Newly-inducted Pakistan captain Younis Khan is likely to join 5000 Test runs club during the brief series. He requires 184 runs to cross this barrier. Though Younis could not click in the recent three ODIs against the guest team, but keeping his experience in view, it is expected that he will regain his batting form and score those 184 runs. Before Younis, five Pakistani batsmen have already achieved this feat.

Pakistan gloveman Kamran Akmal can also bag a batting distinction against Sri Lanka. After scoring 66 more runs, Kamran will become the 25th Pakistani batsman and third wicket-keeper after Moin Khan (2741) and Imtiaz Ahmed (2079) to score 2000 Test runs.

Though 1000 Test runs and 50 wickets are not considered among big feats in modern-day cricket but a Pakistan duo can secure these marks during the two-Test rubber. Middle order batsman Faisal Iqbal could complete his 1000 Test runs if he managed to add 103 runs against the Islanders while all-rounder Shahid Khan Afridi -- in case he was playing -- was expected to complete his fifty of Test wickets after dismissing three Sri Lankan batsmen.

Sri Lanka skipper Mahela Jayawardene is certain to reach his 8000 Test runs feat. After scoring 41 more runs, he will become the first Sri Lankan, sixth Asian and 20th batsman of the world to bag this distinction. Before the Karachi Test, Mahela has 7959 runs in 100 Test matches.

Tillakaratne Dilshan, another established Lankan batsman, required another 101 runs to complete his 3000 Test runs. Before him, eight batsmen of his country have already scored over 3000 Test runs.

The writer is a staffer at 'The News' Lahore

[email protected]

 

cricket

Pakistan cricket: The route to rout

The Senate's Standing Committee on Sports isn't a farce. In the past and they had only questioned about the hand-picked acolytes, all dissenters and those whose faces didn't fit were often cleansed then

By Dr Nauman Niaz

Whether the media concentrates on how the much-hyped PCB led by Mr Ijaz Butt will not be gutted standing up to Senate's Standing Committee on Sports, the controversy will have massive ramifications in Pakistan. It seems there is some sort of a fight over branding. It seems Pakistan cricket is caught between egos and image. The stakes involved are, to them, small.

As the Senators stood aggrieved, to the PCB this was another major blow to its shredded profile, one that could cost it a stable top-tier. Such episodes only serve to confirm its reputation as the most dysfunctional board in world cricket. Despite enough money with them (Rs 2.6 billion), though when Dr Nasim Ashraf's fleet of experts took over the PCB, the reserves were close to Rs 3.3 billion, obviously, compared to the severely dented financial profile, it is in no position to take hits on this scale.

Mr Ijaz Butt's predecessors were charged of ensuing mismanagement and corporate naivety. In short, they were spotted as a bunch of people trying to have their cake and eat it, and now an unnecessary row between the Senators and the PCB Chairman could see it heading for trouble.

Considering two hot-blooded men, one flamboyant and rasping, the other short-tempered and intolerant were seen embroiled in an argument. Mr Butt was asked to resign and he was prompt to publicly claim that the "Standing Committee on Sports had no powers to interfere in cricket affairs".

Elaborating on his stance during a press briefing the silver-haired Butt opined: "The committee members can criticise us as much as they like, but they have no powers and can't tell us how to run the board. I am only answerable to the PCB patron and the sports ministry."

Mr Enver Baig was quoted as saying: "They are running the PCB like a grocery shop and know nothing about anything". Even terser was Haroon Akhtar stating: "It seems that Butt is an illiterate man. He seems to be ignorant of the powers of a parliamentary committee."

That Mr Butt's rebuttal in public about what powers did the members of Senate's Standing Committee on Sports have seems meaningfully an unsustainable ground and Mr Butt's up front confutation almost defies belief. After Javed Miandad's prompt resignation, a controversy in itself, and then Mr Butt's intolerance has left the PCB hard-hit to find about the future arrangements through the media, and then in effect hiding underneath the sheets and let them fight its corner for it, shows its collective lack of bottle.

Here, Mr Butt's Chief Operating Officer shouldn't have been excused for not updating his Chairman about the accounts. It was, as reported, upsetting to see people attending to fax machines to get their hands on the button when the final call had already been made. It reflected poorly on Mr Butt's Directors, though he ended up in a tight corner.

It is disheartening that in the 1990s and even in the early 2000s as if the product PCB were peddling was so marvellous that people were falling over themselves to be associated with it. Now, it's completely a different story and lamentably we have not been able to learn our lessons. The national team is a shambles, the domestic set-up is not much better, and the board seems to spend as much time in conflicts with the Senators and people like Javed Miandad as it does promoting the game.

The succession of battles in which the PCB has bizarrely spurned itself and now it takes the flak for much that happens, and even being charged of complete mismanagement. Nothing short of a top-to-bottom purge seems likely to end the succession of PCB disasters. Contrary to his promise Mr Ijaz Butt hasn't done wondrously well though he is desperately trying to tighten things in a number of areas, but it is on his watch that this current mess developed and, as such, he must take the ultimate responsibility.

Watching on television some players of the ex-management, precisely the top-tier of Dr Nasim Ashraf's PCB giving evidence against the current regime and trying to show themselves as seraph and cherubs with milk anointed skins highlighted how shambolic and self-interested the whole set-up has become. It was regrettable to see a few men, mixing grey in white, who had been privy to the inner discussions surrounding core issues, yet here they were giving evidence against the organisation that employed them until four months ago.Some of them even had the tenacity to charge PCB for unfair dismissal, but they had a much negative impact by revealing the inner workings of the executive. It was off-putting that such people led Pakistan cricket into such an expensive and completely avoidable farrago.

At least Pakistan cricket has finally abandoned any pretence at being a representative, democratic institution. Like the regime led by Dr Nasim Ashraf, allegedly it eschewed all but the charade of being accountable, and those running it now have shown two fingers to the dwindling band inside the country who still care. The Senate's Standing Committee on Sports represented by a couple of inflexible and impassioned gentlemen tried to grill Mr Butt over several pretentious issues and like he is, the Chairman PCB decided to propel a few tight ones in a hastily arranged press conference.

On the face of it, this wasn't a pusillanimous move but a callous approach to avoiding controversies. It is also another blow to what remains of the fast tarnishing reputation of Mr Butt. As chairman difficult decision-making has to rest with him, yet even he knows all of these people on the Senate Standing Committee, he couldn't have brought himself to face them and telling them they had no powers to question him.

Completely neutral, I fail to understand that why should people of high integrity and stature should overlook the real problems. Senate's Standing Committee on Sports has traditionally been one forum where the PCB could be held to account, where officers could be questioned and where the finances could be scrutinized. And truthfully, it could stir quite a few without making a final impact. Appearing in the Senate whether it was Dr Nasim Ashraf or now Mr Butt, it has been a fairly harrowing experience for the executives.Strictly speaking, under the rules anybody from the cricket board could be demanded to be present in the Senate. Mr Butt was actually trying to remove the potential embarrassment by taking them out of the equation, so it looked. We must believe, regardless of its effectiveness, Senate's Standing Committee on Sports isn't a farce. In the past and they had only questioned about the hand-picked acolytes, all dissenters and those whose faces didn't fit were often cleansed then. Dispassionately speaking, Mr Butt's flare-up was also not a cynical ploy to appease his lot. We should stop pretending that PCB is a vibrant and democratic set-up.

What this latest contemptuous move by the Chairman PCB suggests is that PCB believes it has weathered the storm and that it no longer needs to maintain the veneer of accountability. He must really be shrewd enough to know that none other than the Patron of the PCB could rattle him and as a result he, doesn't really care what happens. It's all about personal rapport and the power-base or mutual understandings.

Nonetheless, Mr Butt must acknowledge that if he supports the right wingers, picks his people on merit and does his best for the game when it matters, nobody will rock the boat. However, it's high time he comes out with special plans to rebuild the Pakistani game. Cricket limps on in the country, and despite Senate Standing Committee's suspicions and personal wrangles, we have no one to account to and about how the game is being run. It's a criminal reflection of the priorities of the modern game.

It's time that Mr Butt keeps his relations with everyone in good repair, believing this to be in PCB's best interests. He should try becoming a countervailing force, seizing whatever support might be passing, clutching for even the Senators like the proverbial drunk for a lamppost. He immediately needs to get onto the drawing board and set his priorities right. There are some parallels between Pakistan cricket's geopolitical tectonics and diplomatic responses to underachievement.

After the lack of ICC's support undermining Pakistan's hopeless effort to host the Champions Trophy and also to negotiate Australia into an agreement to tour the terror-stricken country, Mr Butt required to develop contingency plans. Wasim Akram, one of the top cricketers ever in world history suggested that a World XI could be hastily assembled and asked to tour Pakistan as it happened to England in 1968-69 when South Africa were struck out of the international game. It could give the Pakistanis a rich flavour of high quality cricket.

Time will tell who has made the right call. PCB's strategy, at the moment, is essentially a rationalisation of weakness, as the country lacks the commercial heft to sustain its own Pakistan Premier League. Just as the country has become more or less deprived economically, it looks double trouble for Mr Butt. The PCB, meanwhile, looks increasingly shambolic, its mercurial chairman running hard but gathering no real support, either nationally or internationally.

It would surely be hard for Mr Butt to learn inhibiting his emotions and walking out of troubles cleverly. He is a steadfast and a straightforward gentleman, not having the skills to dwell in diplomacy and at times he gets a ball on the wrong foot. It's a fact. PCB is not its own best advertisement, presenting a shambolic image, failing to maintain standards of governance apparently patterned after the BCCI. Mr Butt should understand that it is one thing to have earned the right to wield power, another to demonstrate deserving it.

In the end my sympathy is with Mr Butt. Mind is not the medium for joy. Each word should be a bell within the heart, ringing like a wind-tossed, wave-tossed buoy, restless in the grip of polished art. Years should be a cry of sculpted stone; happiness long past, an oak-voiced choir. Harmonies that hollow out the bone, rich with longing, reckless with desire; if meaning but had meaning, words would be salient as the resonance of brass, tearing chunks of glory from the sea, melting steel with love for things that pass. All I would, I could to you convey should I find words that might such non-words say.

The writer is a Member of the Royal College of Physicians (UK) and official historian of Pakistan cricket

 

We need to put our house in order

Ijaz Butt stretched the matter a bit too much by saying that "they (the Senators) have no power to tell us to do something". Agreed on this point that their mandate is limited, but did the Senate ask for anything inappropriate?

By Muhammad Asif Khan

The recent senate-chairman spat made matters even worse as the rift between Javed Miandad and PCB Chairman Ijaz Butt took an ugly turn when allegations of asking for hefty amount were levelled against Miandad. The former DG might not have been treated well at the PCB headquarters but majority of the attendees at the Senate committee meeting were full of praise for him.

The crux of the matter was the admission of Mr Butt that he had made a mistake by not clearing up the terms with Miandad when he joined, but refused to apologise to the former captain. In other words Mr Butt admitted that the bone of contention was created by him.

By the look of things it is obvious that this combination would not work along even if Miandad is reinstated as because of the clear rift amongst the top managers the affairs would not be managed amicably. It's like a tyre-tube having numerous punctures in it therefore it is better to be replaced rather then amended.

In these testing times the PCB surely needs some out of the box measures to put the house in order. At the moment things seem pretty. Why can't we stop pointing fingers at each other and concentrate on the job at hand. I feel Ijaz Butt stretched the matter a bit too much by saying that "they (Senators) have no power to tell us to do something". Agreed on this point that their mandate is limited, but did the Senate ask for anything inappropriate?

Whatever was asked during the Senate standing committee meeting was "unsatisfactorily" answered by the chairman and he at one point went on to admit his mistake of hiring Miandad without following formal regulations, but what is next? What is he going to do to amend his mistake? He should at least come out with some sort of future strategy.

The ongoing blame game should be put to a halt immediately and the dirty laundry should not be brought in public anymore. Whatever reservations one had, a closed-door meeting to begin with, was the much better option. Now with the mess at the top the trickle down effect on the team is pretty evident from the current ICC rankings where Pakistan stands at number six in the Test ranking only above the West Indies, New Zealand and Bangladesh and at number five in the ODI ranking. The Test ranking is understandable as we did not play Test matches since December 2007, but in fact Pakistan's test ranking was six in December 2007 too, and to improve on this a peaceful environment is essential.

The near failure of the star-studded management has once again spurred the debate of having technocrats in the management rather then former cricketers. Let's take a look at various successful cricket boards around the world and their administrations to analyse the "shortcomings" in the PCB.

Starting with England where the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) is looking after cricket in England and Wales. This governing body was created in January 1997, combining the roles of the Test and County Cricket Board, the National Cricket Association and the Cricket Council. The chairman of the ECB, Giles Clarke, was only a club-level cricketer but his business skills are regarded as phenomenal. The CEO of the ECB, David Collier has not played competitive cricket however he has an impressive track record as a business administrator.

Moving on to Australia where the Australian Cricket Board -- formerly known as Cricket Australia -- is the governing body for professional and amateur cricket. Jack Clarke is the newly elected Chairman while James Sutherland is the CEO. Mr Clarke again did not play at a competitive level but served as the director of Cricket Australia since 1999 and was made the deputy chairman last year. The CEO however played only four first-class matches.

In India the story is not different either, where the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) is the apex governing body for cricket in the country. After the 2008 elections, Shashank Manohar was elected as the President with Prof RS Shetty as the Chief Administrative Officer. Neither Mr Manohar nor Mr Shetty are known for their cricketing abilities.

By going through the hierarchy of some of the successful boards two things have been found similar in them. One the top brass does not consist of famous former players and secondly they all have come up through the proper channel of elections.

In case of Pakistan, elections in the PCB have not been a culture, therefore its time to revamp the strategy to put the house in order and afterwards things will hopefully start falling in place for us.

The writer is a freelance contributor

[email protected]

 

 

 

Dented by drugs and terror

Legendary England all-rounder

Sir Ian Botham denounced the Antigua Test as a 'joke' after the first day's play was abandoned because of a dangerous outfield

By Waris Ali

It is the world of cricket which revolves around the three versions of the game which are Tests, ODIs and Twenty20 cricket. But it is far more replete with non-cricketing factors and incidents. From the dope tests to security concerns and the ever rising incidents of misbehaviour, international cricket has suffered serious dents in its professionalism and gentlemanliness.

The Indian Premier League tribunal banned Pakistan fast bowler Asif for one year till September 2009 from the IPL after Asif tested positive for the banned steroid nandrolone during the opening season of the Twenty20 tournament in 2008. Asif, also suspended from playing official cricket by the Pakistan Cricket Board, will not be allowed to take part in the second edition of the lucrative tournament in April and May.

Asif was detained at Dubai airport for 19 days last June after 0.24 grams of opium were found in his wallet. After being deported to Pakistan, he was told he had also failed the IPL test. The International Cricket Council said Asif was unlikely to represent Pakistan until his IPL ban had expired.

The chances of New Zealand's tour of Zimbabwe in July appear to have grown slimmer after comments from Kiwi prime minister, John Key, that the New Zealand players may face health and safety concerns in Mugabe's country.

In 2005, Helen Clark, then prime minister of New Zealand, expressed her displeasure over the Zimbabwe tour, however did not meddle into the affair practically. Key is unimpressed with the ICC's attitude. The two most senior members of ZC, chairman Peter Chingoka and chief executive Ozias Bvute, are banned from entering Australasia because of their links to the Mugabe regime. The government may ban the players from going, much as Australian Prime Minister John Howard did in 2007.

ICC Chief Executive Haroon Lorgat has asked the 2011 World Cup organising committee to consider shifting venues, if law and order in Pakistan continues to worsen. Lorgat said security concerns in Pakistan need to be monitored. Pakistan suffers the history of being rejected for tour by such teams as Australia, West Indies, India and New Zealand on security grounds. Australia postponed their full tour last year and India this year. While the International Cricket Council had to shift the 2009 Champions Trophy tournament from Pakistan after several members expressed security concerns.

A court in Pakistan has lifted a domestic ban on the last six active players who joined the Indian Cricket League, enabling them to play the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy. In all, 17 players can return to domestic cricket but the ban on their participation in international cricket remains.

Legendary England all-rounder Sir Ian Botham denounced the Antigua Test as a 'joke' after the first day's play was abandoned because of a dangerous outfield.

Only 10 balls of the second Test were bowled. "I was horrified when I saw it this morning... The match referee can't say it's unfit until they've proved it's unfit. Former West Indies fast bowler Michael Holding, working with Botham as a TV commentator, said the ICC should not be blamed, instead the local cricket authorities are at fault.

On the level of code of ethics, cricket is really getting dirty and dirtier day by day; the claim that cricket as the game of gentleman is losing its validity in view of certain violations which have been fast springing out for last one decade. Earlier, there were always sparse incidents of breach of code of ethics whether on the part of players or on that of the cricket lovers.

There had been strong professionalism and a dedicated love for cricket for the sake of cricket only. The importation of commercialism, on the one hand, granted it an all time high status and popularity, however polluted it with 'the other matters'.

During the Australian tour of India in early 2007, Indian pacer Sreesanth proved the most in-your-face fast bowler with his rather juvenile antics in the second one-dayer against Australia when he gave Brad Haddin an earful after an LBW appeal had been turned down, and the very next instant throwing down the stumps at the non-striker's end and appealing for a run-out against Andrew Symonds when the ball was dead, and finally by jeering wildly after he had caught Symonds of his own bowling.

He had given a similar sort of 'farewell' to Matthew Hayden in the Bangalore ODI while in the Twenty20 World Championship semifinal, he was fined 25 percent of his match fees for excessive appealing.

During the Indian visit of Australia, Mike Procter, the match referee in Sydney, angered India by suspending off-spinner Harbhajan Singh for three Tests for calling Australian all-rounder Andrew Symonds a 'monkey'; the tourists took a day off in protest, threatening to derail one of cricket's biggest series of US$ 43.5 million in compensation payments to TV broadcasters.

In fact, the Australia-India series are blotted by indecent examples: in 1981, former India captain Sunil Gavaskar, along with his batting partner Chetan Chauhan off the field, leaving the fans and commentators aghast. The two teams were involved in only the second tied Test in cricket history in Madras in 1986, but it was marred by dubious umpiring and verbal duels, resulting in a hiatus of nine years before the resumption of Test series between the two teams.

The Sri Lankans were almost fed up with Australian crowds for taunting Muralitharan, declaring his 'doosra' as no-ball, while during the 1995 Boxing Day Test against Australia in Melbourne, he was no-balled for throwing seven times but subsequent scientific tests cleared him of any serious breach.

In a logical reaction to the situation, Muralitharan responded to these taunts of the crowds in Perth with a single-finger gesture when he was photographed making the gesture towards a man in the crowd. The man had painted his face black and had the words "no-ball" painted across his chest. That, however, won Murali a reprimand by the match referee Jeff Crowe.

While a cricket match is always a fight between two teams, it is much more dependent on the working of the umpires who become virtually a third factor. All key turns in the game are decided by them, nevertheless they never influence the game; they are neutral, absolutely neutral, but they are human beings and may commit a mistake, spontaneously and unconsciously. This factor of committing the mistake has added to the versatility of cricket and imported some of them as more than just umpires.

This became true of Steve Bucknor when the honourable, veteran cricket umpire had to quit his career unwillingly as a result of the forceful pressure of the Indians during their tour of Australia. Bucknor became a target of harsh criticism of the visiting Indian side who accused him of making several controversial decisions during the second Test.

The ICC, submitting to the Indians' pressure, replaced the 61-year-old West Indian which led to an early and forced retirement of Slow Death Bucknor, as he was called because of his style of declaring slowly the batsman out. The move attracted criticism from the cricket world.

The fact is that the image of umpires is fast declining for various reasons ranging from the umpire's own overbearing mindset to the cricketers' distrustful attitude towards them.

 






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