League of trouble
After back-to-back blows that came in the form of PSL’s postponement and the 
resignation of its managing director, PCB is trying to create an impression that everything is under control
By Khalid Hussain
If making tall claims were like making runs then Pakistan’s cricket chiefs would have been more prolific than Sachin Tendulkar. In the case of the proposed Pakistan Super League (PSL), our cricket bosses have broken their own record of making the tallest of claims. And even though the PSL ship is all but sunk, Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) continues to claim that everything related to the project is hunky dory. After back-to-back blows that came in the form of the league’s indefinite postponement and the resignation of its managing director, PCB is trying to create an impression that everything is under control. It has announced that the league has been rescheduled and would now be held in a befitting manner sooner than later.

PSL: Will it sink or swim?
Javed Miandad tells Khalid Hussain that if left 
to him, PCB’s Twenty20 league will take its time before rolling into action
My cell rang late last Wednesday night. It was Javed Miandad. He was returning a call. “Sorry my phone was on silent,” he apologized for missing my call. “I was at Data Darbar which is why I missed it,” said the former Pakistan captain.
I had called Miandad soon after it was announced by the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) that Salman Sarwar Butt — the managing director of the so-called Pakistan Super League (PSL) — has stepped down. It was also announced in a statement that Miandad has been picked as acting managing director of the league.

Unpredictable as ever
By Khurram Mahmood
It’s a very old saying in the cricketing world that Pakistan are a highly unpredictable side; they can surprise any side on their day and their batsmen proved it once again against South Africa in Johannesburg in the first Test last week. 
In the first innings, Pakistan were bowled out for their lowest ever total of 49. 
In the second innings only skipper Misbah-ul-Haq and Asad Shafiq showed some resistance, but their efforts failed to save the match. 

Nadal returns amidst changing tennis landscape
By Khuldune Shahid
Rafael Nadal has finally returned to tennis after an eight-month injury layoff at the VTR Open in Chile last week. Considering the gravity of the Spaniard’s injury, it would undoubtedly take quite a few tournaments before he returns to anywhere near his peak form. However, despite struggling with a colossal injury crisis, it would not be the only thing that would be on Nadal’s mind as he vies to climb the current tennis pecking order. 

The curious case of miscued shots
By Chishty Mujahid
It is said that the world is full of surprises. And also, as William Cowper said way back in the 18th century, “God moves in a mysterious way; His wonders to perform”. Had Cowper been living today he would certainly have had something to say about the “thinking” and “working” (although many would challenge me for using these terms in this context!!) of the PCB and the PSL.

The sorry state of Pakistan boxing
By Alam Zeb Safi
There was a time when Pakistan had a say in international boxing, especially at the Asian level, thanks to the towering personality of the then Pakistan Boxing Federation (PBF) chief late Professor Anwar Chowdhry, who also ruled the world boxing governing body (AIBA) for a long time. 
After he left the scene in final days of his life, the responsibility of serving the sport came on the young shoulders of Doda Bhutto and Akram Khan. But their tenure proved disastrous for Pakistan boxing. A year ago, strong differences emerged between the two. Both leveled allegations of corruption and human smuggling against each other. The differences between Pakistan Olympic Association (POA) and Pakistan Sports Board (PSB) also helped in widening the gulf between Doda and Akram. 

Delivering the goods
By Muhammad Ahsan Khalid
The local sports goods manufacturing industry is an important source of foreign exchange earnings for the country. It is based mostly in and around the city of Sialkot, where it has flourished as a cottage industry with most of its production undertaken by people who have inherited the profession from their ancestors. 
At the time of independence, this industry was in infancy with a nominal export of Rs0.82 million. The government took steps to develop this industry by providing loans and subsidies to the manufacturers and arrangements were made to market the manufactured goods.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

League of trouble
After back-to-back blows that came in the form of PSL’s postponement and the 
resignation of its managing director, PCB is trying to create an impression that everything is under control
By Khalid Hussain

If making tall claims were like making runs then Pakistan’s cricket chiefs would have been more prolific than Sachin Tendulkar. In the case of the proposed Pakistan Super League (PSL), our cricket bosses have broken their own record of making the tallest of claims. And even though the PSL ship is all but sunk, Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) continues to claim that everything related to the project is hunky dory. After back-to-back blows that came in the form of the league’s indefinite postponement and the resignation of its managing director, PCB is trying to create an impression that everything is under control. It has announced that the league has been rescheduled and would now be held in a befitting manner sooner than later.

Are you still kidding me? I mean, how could the PCB claim that it is very much in control of the PSL after making a mess out of a project that actually had the potential of helping the Board’s campaign to revive international cricket in Pakistan. It also had potential of helping the Board make much-needed profits. But the trigger-happy PCB chiefs have scored an own goal by making hasty, ill-timed plans. The PCB leadership was trying to swim against the tide with its hands tied behind its back.

Though the PCB continues to claim that it has received overwhelming response from investors and players, my sources tell me a different story.

The Board claims that it has roped in dozens of international cricketers for the league. My sources tell me that barring a few retired or sidelined players, nobody expressed any substantial interest in the PSL except for several players from neighbouring Afghanistan — hardly a big catch. My sources tell me that the hired guns who were making contacts with international players on PCB’s behalf were targetting West Indian master blaster Chris Gayle as PSL’s star signing. Gayle was willing to make an appearance but at a price of one million dollars for the 12-day event and only if it was held on safer venues in the UAE. Not a single international star expressed any interest in playing the PSL in Pakistan.

My sources tell me various other stories related to the PSL as well. But let’s keep that for some other time.

What’s more relevant is the future of PSL. I hope that the Board has learnt some lessons from its mistakes. It has already wasted a lot of time and money on the project without making any worthwhile progress. By postponing the league, PCB has given itself much-needed breathing space. But what’s next for the PSL? Not much would change if the Board continued to make efforts in an amateurish manner.

It was never an easy task to plan and launch a full-fledged Twenty20 league in Pakistan at a time when the country is going through turbulent times. It is quite obvious that Pakistan’s security situation will remain volatile considering the American plans to pull out from Afghanistan next year.

The easy way out for PCB would to be to close the PSL shop and move on to something more doable. In that case, it would have to take responsibility for the entire fiasco. Zaka Ashraf, its chairman, has been promising for more than a year that he would deliver a successful PSL. The Board has already spent a lot on the planning of the league. It would be held accountable for the wastage of precious funds at a time when PCB’s sources of income are pretty limited.

The Board, of course, can keep on working on its campaign to make PSL happen. But then, it would need to change its game plan. It would have to take much more concrete steps to make sure that the league is held in a successful manner on Pakistani soil. But the question is whether the Board is capable of doing that?

Khalid Hussain is Editor Sports of The News,

Karachi

[email protected]

caption

Chris Gayle (right)... was targetted as PSL’s star signing

 

 

 

 

 

 

PSL: Will it sink or swim?
Javed Miandad tells Khalid Hussain that if left 
to him, PCB’s Twenty20 league will take its time before rolling into action

My cell rang late last Wednesday night. It was Javed Miandad. He was returning a call. “Sorry my phone was on silent,” he apologized for missing my call. “I was at Data Darbar which is why I missed it,” said the former Pakistan captain.

I had called Miandad soon after it was announced by the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) that Salman Sarwar Butt — the managing director of the so-called Pakistan Super League (PSL) — has stepped down. It was also announced in a statement that Miandad has been picked as acting managing director of the league.

“Yes, I was told (by the PCB) about this additional responsibility this evening,” said Miandad currently serving as PCB’s director-general. “I have been given this task temporarily but let me say that this important project would get my best efforts.”

Miandad reappears on the gloomy horizon of the PSL at a time when the project is gasping for air. The project has received a series of lethal blows even before taking off.

On February 8, PCB decided to postpone the much-trumpeted league that was supposed to get underway on March 26 after claiming that it was forced to reschedule the event because of an ‘overwhelming’ response from investors and international players. Last Wednesday, PSL suffered yet another setback when its managing director — Salman Butt — decided to quit the league.

The Board tried to portray Butt’s resignation as no big deal but as a matter of fact

it was a major blow for a project that seems to be doomed to fail.

But Miandad doesn’t think so. “I think that we are perfectly capable of staging a successful Twenty20 league,” he says. “Pakistan is a major cricket-playing country and it reserves the right to have its own professional league.”

So what role does the former captain sees for himself as far as the PSL is concerned.

“Though it’s a temporary responsibility, I’m ready to give my best to make sure that the PSL is launched in a successful manner,” he says. “I was the one who got this project initially (before it was handed over to Salman Butt) and am confident that this league would be held in a befitting manner,” he adds.

As a batsman, Miandad always liked to take his time to settle down before going for the big shots. When it comes to PSL, he thinks the PCB should adopt a similar approach. Miandad doesn’t believe that the PSL can be launched overnight.

“I don’t see any reason why we should be in a hurry,” he says. “I think that we should take our time and do everything necessary before launching the league. It may take some time but such an approach would help us in staging it in the best possible manner.”

Miandad is not sure whether the league can take place in the near future. “We would sit down soon and look for appropriate slots for our league,” he promises.

He doesn’t think that Butt’s decision to quit PSL at a crucial time would be a big blow for the proposed league.

“He (Butt) was working hard for the successful launch of the PSL,” says Miandad. “But that doesn’t mean that the league won’t happen if somebody quits. Everybody (in the PCB) is optimistic about it and I’m sure that with a team effort, we can deliver the league.”

caption

Javed Miandad... ‘we can do it’

 

 

 

Unpredictable as ever 
By Khurram Mahmood

It’s a very old saying in the cricketing world that Pakistan are a highly unpredictable side; they can surprise any side on their day and their batsmen proved it once again against South Africa in Johannesburg in the first Test last week.

In the first innings, Pakistan were bowled out for their lowest ever total of 49.

In the second innings only skipper Misbah-ul-Haq and Asad Shafiq showed some resistance, but their efforts failed to save the match.

But it was not something that we cannot expect from our batsmen. They failed to handle the new ball on the grassy track of New Wanderers Stadium.

Dale Steyn with his lethal fast bowling destroyed Pakistan’s batting and finished the Test before lunch on the fourth day.

It is our bad luck that Pakistan domestic structure is not up to the international standard and has failed to provide quality players who can compete with top players of the world and cope up with the pressure of crunch situations.

The players who score record numbers of runs and took wickets regularly in domestic cricket fail to deliver the goods when chances are provided to them at the international level.

The board and management are more responsible for this situation than players themselves. What can a player do when he is not used to the conditions he faces at the international level, especially on green tracks.

In the domestic matches, the batsmen face little bounce and movement, so it is too tough for them to tackle high bounce and greater movement when they play abroad.

When they play on the bouncy tracks in Australia, England or South Africa, they fail miserably.

They get out, mostly behind the stumps or in the slips. In the first Test, AB de Villiers equalled the record for most catches (11) behind the stumps.  The board never provides the opportunity to domestic players to play their trophy matches on fast and grassy tracks.

Every country prepares its pitches according to their own team’s strength, but Pakistan is most unfortunate in the sense that it doesn’t utilises its strength according to its cricketing capabilities.

Pakistan has had the services of the world’s most lethal fast bowlers — Wasim Akram, Waqar Younis, Mohammad Zahid, Aaqib Javed, Shoaib Akhtar, Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Amir in the past and Umar Gul and Junaid Khan at present — but the PCB hasn’t taken advantage of this.

The management has never tried fast tracks for home series — neither against Australia, South Africa and England nor against teams like Zimbabwe and Bangladesh.

The fact is that Pakistan is the only side in the world that doesn’t believe in home advantage. The defensive attitude of the team management almost always deprives the team of utilising its resources effectively and efficiently.

It’s hardly surprising then that there have been numerous calls for the appointment of a batting coach but so far the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) has refused to listen.

After their team’s humiliating first-round exit from the 2007 World Cup, India appointed former South Africa Test opener Gary Kirsten as the chief coach. In four years, India came so strong that they won the last World Cup.

Former skipper Inzamam-ul-Haq was appointed for ODI series against India and batsmen showed maturity there. But for the important tour of South Africa PCB didn’t retain the former master batsmen.

No doubt Mohammad Hafeez, Nasir Jamshed, Azhar Ali, Asad Shafiq and other youngsters are talented players, but due to lack of proper guidance they are inconsistent and lose their wickets in crunch situations. To remove their weaknesses, concrete steps have be taken.

[email protected]

 

 

 

Nadal returns amidst changing tennis landscape
By Khuldune Shahid

Rafael Nadal has finally returned to tennis after an eight-month injury layoff at the VTR Open in Chile last week. Considering the gravity of the Spaniard’s injury, it would undoubtedly take quite a few tournaments before he returns to anywhere near his peak form. However, despite struggling with a colossal injury crisis, it would not be the only thing that would be on Nadal’s mind as he vies to climb the current tennis pecking order.

For starters the pecking order itself has undergone a metamorphosis of sorts. Since Nadal’s absence from the tennis scene, each of the current top three players — Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer and Andy Murray — has won a major each, with the Scott also adding the gold medal to his US Open trophy. Back in June 2012, men’s tennis was a one-on-one tug-of-war between Djokovic and Nadal as the top two players back then had shared previous nine majors between them, and contested the each of the four major finals preceding Wimbledon 2012. Djokovic had bagelled the 11-time major winner in 2011 with six final defeats, including three in Grand Slams, and breaking the Serb’s stranglehold was what he needed to do to return to the pinnacle of tennis. It was a one-man challenge back then — albeit one that resembled a brakeless freight train at the time — and Nadal had managed to erase the Serbian’s phantom in the clay court season of 2012. However, the challenge for the Spaniard in 2013 is three-pronged.

Federer has returned to major winning form with his 17th Grand Slam title at SW-19, while Murray finally threw the procrastinating monkey off his back by becoming the first British player to win a major since Fred Perry. Before Nadal can set his sights on outdoing Djokovic he needs to tackle the two challengers first.

Historically, Nadal is the bogeyman of both Federer and Murray, with landslide head-to-head leads of 18-10 and 13-5 respectively against them. And one could argue that it’s no coincidence that major success for both players in 2012 coincided with Nadal’s absence. Even so, one needs to factor in the fact that Murray seems to be a completely different player now after Ivan Lendl joined his camp, while Federer would still be a massive threat at Wimbledon at least. Not only would Nadal’s injury be crucial in determining his head-to-heads with these two players henceforth, one also needs to factor in their respective rejuvenations and how they could be mentally stronger facing the Spaniard now.

Nadal’s biggest challenge would of course still be Djokovic, on all three surfaces. Even though one could say that he overcame the psychological barrier that Djokovic’s seven consecutive victories over him had created last year, but the Serb is the player that has the repertoire to counter Nadal’s weapons. With Federer, Nadal has the crosscourt forehand that is the tormentor in chief, with the Swiss’ single-handed backhand failing to deal with it. With Murray (of old, if one may add), Nadal normally went to his forehand, and even though the Scott has considerably improved that particular shot recently, we are yet to see him deal with the Spaniard’s vicious topspin with his reincarnated forehand. Djokovic meanwhile has had the answers to most of Nadal’s question, especially when the Serb is performing at his peak.

Nadal reached the final in his first tournament back on the Latin American clay, but understandably there was hesitation in his game. The backhand — a shot that works in synchrony with the Spaniard’s confidence — was significantly tentative, the serve is significantly short of Nadal’s peak serves back in 2010 and the machinelike depth of strokes is still not there. However, Nadal’s forehand still looked deadly even in his first tournament back, and more importantly his movement — for someone who’s been out of the game for eight months — was pretty decent, without any excess of inhibition or concern regarding injury exacerbation.

Nadal choosing to play his first few tournaments back from injury on his favourite surface is understandable on many fronts. First of all, the clay takes the least toll on his knees and is the ideal surface for him to get match practice under his belt as he vies to return to full fitness. Secondly, he is least likely to suffer early exits from tournaments — a massive confidence shaker — on clay, as compared to the American hard courts for instance. Thirdly, and arguably most importantly, the next major championship is the French Open at Roland Garros, which is Nadal’s fortress.

Even though Nadal would play the two ATP 1000 Masters events in American hard courts at Miami and Indian Wells next month, what he is really eying is the clay court season, and most of all: Roland Garros. Nadal knows that if he is even bordering on his best form he should win in Paris. If that happens, and he remains injury-free, it would put him in good shape to maybe have a tilt at Wimbledon and the US Open as well. Not winning at Roland Garros would be a confidence crusher that might slash question marks over Nadal ever returning to within the proximity of the top of men’s tennis.

It seems criminal to expect someone to return from an eight-month layoff and win the first major title on his return. But such has been the domineering stature of Nadal on clay and in Paris, that his performance and confidence at Roland Garros lays the benchmark for him for the remainder of the season. If Nadal wins at Roland Garros it would definitely throw the cat among the pigeons and would summon another reshuffle in men’s tennis that has already witnessed a convulsion or two over the past eight months.

[email protected]; Twitter: @khuldune

caption

Rafael Nadal

 

 

 

 

 

 

The curious case of miscued shots
By Chishty Mujahid

It is said that the world is full of surprises. And also, as William Cowper said way back in the 18th century, “God moves in a mysterious way; His wonders to perform”. Had Cowper been living today he would certainly have had something to say about the “thinking” and “working” (although many would challenge me for using these terms in this context!!) of the PCB and the PSL.

Since the unfortunate attack on the Sri Lankan cricketers by terrorists in Lahore almost four years ago no ICC member (full, associate or affiliate) team has visited Pakistan. That the incident and its aftermath were shabbily handled by the PCB; and no real efforts have been made since to bring back international cricket to Pakistan, is another story. We have wooed Bangladesh without success, and in spite of our goodwill and sincerity have been let down. We have danced to the tune of India and went on a tour sandwiched between the Test and the shorter versions played there by England. The sahibs went home after the first part to celebrate Christmas, and we readily stepped in to give our neighbours much needed practice. This is a trip we should not have undertaken as it was India who owed us visits and we should have been firm for once. The result was egg on our faces when our hockey heroes were sent packing back on the heels of our returning cricketers who had committed the “mistake” of defeating the hosts convincingly in the ODI series.

Pakistan, we believe, did not benefit even by a brass farthing and it seems no gratitude either if you take into account the repercussions of that trip. The tour was a roaring success financially for the already rich BCCI.

Further the “concessions” so graciously granted by our neighbours in connection with visas to our citizens were also hastily withdrawn. So much for our good intentions and desire to restore some semblance of normalcy in our sports particularly cricket.

We were further repaid by the shabby treatment meted out to our girls who were touring India for the ICC Women’s World Cup. Shifting matches from Bombay to Orissa should not have been acceptable and even after that accommodating our girls in the stadium rather than a hotel like the other teams was nothing short of shameful.

We should have pulled out if the ICC were powerless to shift the tournament from India. The argument that this treatment did not affect the performance of our team is laughable.

Since 2009 Pakistan has played cricket all over the world except at home. Statisticians inform us that over 175 international matches have been played abroad and “at home”. A rough count is 35 Tests, equal number of T20s and 75 ODIs on a bilateral basis. Those played for ICC/ACC events — World Cup, Champions Trophy, ICC World Twenty20 and Asia Cups are separate. “Home” being Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Sharjah. We have played Tests, ODIs and T20s against every Test playing country, as well as toured Ireland. With even Bangladesh acting difficult and going back on their commitments, it is difficult to see the other big guns visiting us particularly as we so readily agree to “host” them in the lavish lap of luxury in the UAE.

It has now become routine for us to be proactive and offer off shore venues for our “home” series. In fact it is convenient for all except of course the ardent Pakistani fans of cricket. It appears that they are also now becoming resigned to their fate. The convenience is apparent. These “home” tours are free of any hassles for the authorities. Everything is outsourced from the printing and sale of tickets, accreditation, security, to the accommodation and travel of both the teams and the officials. Whether we spend a fortune going down this lane is another question. PCB has enough in their coffers. After all they got their share of hosting fee for the World Cup without lifting a finger or spending any money after the friendly ICC had cancelled our rights to be co-hosts.

In all fairness the current Chairman has done all in his power to put matters on the right path. But remember that he is still surrounded by advisors and executives of the old establishment. There are hardly any new or competent faces in the management. The Board is grossly overstaffed and the Gaddafi where the headquarters are overstuffed with even Media Boxes and Broadcast Boxes being used as offices. What the PCB desperately needs is to carry out a thorough “Greenfield” exercise to determine the required strength of the organisation. I am sure with the class of management and expertise available to them the PCB has proper Organisation Tree, Job descriptions, Reporting Relationships, Key Tasks and Annual Appraisal System.

The PSL is one example of how not to go about doing projects of this importance, significance and magnitude. From the beginning it was shrouded in mystery. Almost seemed a cloak and dagger exercise. “Sorry we just cannot reveal this at this moment...” was the usual reply to every genuine query. It was suspected that the League was planning to get the UAE venues to bail them out. This news may have leaked out, besides the unwillingness of the foreign players from travelling to Pakistan, which led to the postponement. Having high profile managers on your pay roll does not mean that they will deliver every time. Getting the assistance and advice of the former CEO of ICC was not the most brilliant of ideas... the rest as Shakespeare put it in Hamlet “is silence.” We do not have to jump on the bandwagon. We should think, plan and implement judiciously. The entire cricketing world is now brimming with Leagues — Premier, Super, Bashes, Dashes what not; let them be; more power to them cut your coat according to your cloth. Do not stop your players from earning a few dollars from them — pulling out our players from the BPL was, with utmost respect, in bad taste and did not help our cause. We should have been gracious and large hearted.

The time is not far when we may have freelance League players — not committed to any domestic events. What then? Wither Boards? Wither ICC? That the Managing Director of the PSL has stepped down is not surprising; what is baffling is why he joined in the first place. An experienced executive like him should have read the writing on the wall.

Now has come the news — yet to be officially confirmed — that PCB’s constitution has been implemented and the Chairman will be elected. However the current Chairman will carry on till October 2015. What this means and what the ICC has to say on this (they had a deadline of June 2013 for “democratic” Boards) we will wait and see. It will only become clear once the details are available.

Meanwhile, by the time this piece appears, if it does, the Newlands Test will be in progress or may have ended. Pakistan can only perform better. They can and will fight back.

[email protected]

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National hockey players... were sent back home

caption

Pakistan women’s cricket team... was treated shabbily in India

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The sorry state of Pakistan boxing
By Alam Zeb Safi

There was a time when Pakistan had a say in international boxing, especially at the Asian level, thanks to the towering personality of the then Pakistan Boxing Federation (PBF) chief late Professor Anwar Chowdhry, who also ruled the world boxing governing body (AIBA) for a long time.

After he left the scene in final days of his life, the responsibility of serving the sport came on the young shoulders of Doda Bhutto and Akram Khan. But their tenure proved disastrous for Pakistan boxing. A year ago, strong differences emerged between the two. Both leveled allegations of corruption and human smuggling against each other. The differences between Pakistan Olympic Association (POA) and Pakistan Sports Board (PSB) also helped in widening the gulf between Doda and Akram.

Doda and company on December 20, 2012, claimed to have conducted PBF elections which were endorsed by the POA. But Akram group claimed that no elections had been held as there was a stay order against election by a court in Islamabad.

AIBA took notice of the matter and advised the PBF to attend a meeting in Lausanne through a letter it issued to Doda Bhutto on January 4, 2013. But surprisingly on February 9, AIBA approved the elections through another letter it addressed to Doda Bhutto without holding any such meeting.

As a result of the AIBA approval, legally Doda once again will serve as PBF chief, while Iqbal Hussain, former vice-president of the PBF, will act as secretary.

But the real position would become clear only after the tussle between the POA and the PSB came to an end.

It would be extremely difficult for the new PBF set up to run the boxing affairs without the cooperation of the rival group because it has most of the technical people in its fold. The people in power don’t know much about the game.

Politics in Pakistan boxing has also hurt a former Pakistani Olympian boxer and Asian champion Haider Ali, who lives in Birmingham. He had a chat with ‘The News on Sunday’ during which he spoke without reserve about what is happening in the country’s boxing.

“You know, I am here in Birmingham but because I have been a boxer so when I hear something about the downfall of Pakistan boxing it bleeds my heart,” Haider said.

He said he had desperately wanted to see a few Pakistani boxers in the 2012 London Olympics and support them.

But to his utter dismay no one qualified. “Pakistan used to send a healthy contingent of boxers to the Olympics in the past but in the last two Olympics why did our boxers fail to qualify? I know exactly what is happening in the PBF and also know there are people who don’t want to see Pakistan’s boxing flourishing,” said the emotional Haider.

“In the era of Anwar Chowdhry boxing was developing. We used to get training abroad and take part in international events regularly which is very important for development.”

He said that those handling boxing affairs of the country for the last four or five years did not know much about the game. “We used to train abroad for months but you know no Pakistani boxer was sent abroad for training for the 2012 London Olympics qualifiers. If a boxer does sparring with a boxer weaker than him for months at home, he will never improve unless he is sent abroad for training with quality boxers,” he said. “It bleeds my heart when I listen about corruption in the PBF as in the past we never heard such things. Corruption destroys the careers of top boxers. Those who have done corruption in Pakistan boxing should be severely punished and sports should be free of politics,” said Haider.

“There is corruption even in the selection of coaches and I must say that young coaches should be given chance in order to save the future of the country’s boxing,” said Haider.

“There is an abundance of talent in Pakistan but there is no one who could look after it. I remember Anwar Chowdhry used to weep while giving interviews when our boxers were maltreated at any forum. He had pain in his heart for boxing and you know Pakistan had a name, particularly in the continent in his era. We did not have facilities which the athletes have today but there was spirit and love for the game and the country. I remember when we were undergoing training in 2002 in the PSB caching centre in Karachi there was no electricity, no gas, and in summer we used to sleep on the roof of the hostel where mosquitoes would bite us. Our meal was prepared with woods in the nearby bushes but in spite of all these problems we used to do rigorous training and won a gold, four silver and a bronze in the Busan Asian Games and I also then lifted the only gold for the country in the Manchester Commonwealth Games,” Haider reminisced.

“I would say that union is strength and would suggest to the Pakistan boxing fraternity to join hands and work for the promotion of boxing. In our age, the national ranking used to be a tough contest because of the strong pool of pugilists but today there is no such thing,” Haider pointed out.

“We have served boxing and I am still ready to serve it. If Pakistan sends its boxers, I will arrange for them training programmes in both amateur and professional. My doors are open for those who serve Pakistan boxing,” Haider said.

Haider Ali, born on November 12, 1979, in Quetta, had an explosive speed that made him a constant threat to his rivals. He began boxing at an early age and became the national champion in 1998. He won gold medals in the Green Hill International Boxing Tournament in Karachi in 1998 and late Imam Khomeini International Boxing Tournament in Iran in 1999.

He lifted bronze in 1998 Bangkok Asian Games and won gold in his first appearance in the 1999 Nepal South Asian Games.

He qualified for the 2002 Sydney Olympics by winning gold in the qualifiers in the flyweight. In 2002, he lifted the coveted title by winning gold in the XXI Asian Boxing Championship in Malaysia when he defeated Thailand’s boxer in the final. He was also declared the best boxer of Asia.

Haider defeated India’s Som Bahadur Pun in the final of the Manchester Commonwealth Games in July-August 2002 to grab first ever gold for Pakistan in the event’s history.

He was then signed by England-based promoter Frank Warren. Haider turned pro in 2003 and moved to east London to start his professional career. According to Haider four years back he had to abandon his pro career after he broke his ribs during training for Inter-Continental event. He is still associated with the game as an organiser and trainer. Haider was given Pride of Performance award in 2002.

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Delivering the goods
By Muhammad Ahsan Khalid

The local sports goods manufacturing industry is an important source of foreign exchange earnings for the country. It is based mostly in and around the city of Sialkot, where it has flourished as a cottage industry with most of its production undertaken by people who have inherited the profession from their ancestors.

At the time of independence, this industry was in infancy with a nominal export of Rs0.82 million. The government took steps to develop this industry by providing loans and subsidies to the manufacturers and arrangements were made to market the manufactured goods.

Since then, the industry has flourished locally and enjoys very good reputation in the international market.

At present, there are more than 2000 units — most of them operating on a small scale — producing goods worth about Rs20 billion per annum. The units operate on single-shift basis.

Pakistan produces a wide range of sports goods and accessories generally following the British, American and German specifications. The government ensures that the manufacturers adhere to quality standards.

The Pakistan Standards Institute, a government agency, has devised specific standards for different sports goods.

The important items being produced are tennis rackets, hockey sticks, hockey balls, polo sticks, cricket bats and balls, footballs and numerous other goods used in indoor and outdoor games.

Pakistan’s sports goods have recognition the world over mainly because of the care that goes into their designing, manufacturing and selection of the raw materials.

The basic raw materials required for the production of sports goods are leather, wood, glue, nylon guts, rubber and chemicals.

Out of these, leather and various kinds of wood are abundantly available in Pakistan. The industry annually utilises material worth Rs8 billion, including imported raw material.

It is estimated that more than 75 percent of the total production is exported. The export demand has acted as the main stimulus for the rapid growth of this industry.

As per the government statistics, export of sports goods increased from $136 million in 1990-91 to $384 million in 1997-98.

The export market for sports goods is fairly diversified. More and more countries are being added to the list of their imports. In 1990-91 there were in all 50 countries importing these good from Pakistan. Thereafter, the list has continuously expanded so that by 1998, Pakistan exported sports goods to 90 countries.

However, the principal importing countries are Germany, the US, the UK, France, Italy, Spain, the Netherlands, Hong Kong, Denmark, Canada, Belgium, Dubai and Chile.

Talking to ‘The News on Sunday’, Chaudhry Faisal Imtiaz, an export analyst at a local sports manufacturing facility, said that though growth in exports has remained steady, it may fall short of expectations this year mainly because of crippling electricity shortages, which have frequently disturbed production process.

Problems of the sports industry are no different from those of other industries though it is generally considered a less energy-consuming industry.

Shahid Asghar, managing partner at one of the leading producers of cricket paraphernalia, said crippling power outages that went up to eight hours a day had directly hurt production process at the industries.

India, Japan, Taiwan and South Korea are the main competitors of Pakistan. They are supplying their products at lower prices. While India has an advantage of cheap labour and raw material, Taiwan, Japan, and South Korea have semi-automotive and mechanised units and are always engaged in introducing cheap sports goods such as metal rackets.

In order to encourage the export of sports goods, the government has taken many positive steps and has offered various incentives. It offers rebates on customs duty, sales tax and excise duty for export of various goods.

Another incentive is that import of restricted and tanned raw materials are also allowed on cash licenses against export of sports goods.

Since the government has banned child labour, most of the sports manufacturing companies have now employed handicapped persons to keep their costs low.

Liaqat Ali, a foreman in local sports industry in Sialkot, said they facilitate handicapped people. “We have provided staff transport and other facilities. It will not only help them meet their financial requirements, but also give them confidence in life.”

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