on you ‘fixers’!
bid for the World Cup
darkest before dawn
‘fab’ fifteen for World Cup
looks ahead to cricketing extravaganza!
By Malik Arshed Gilani. psn.
Three Pakistan cricketers have shamed the entire nation. They deserve no sympathy. They are still to face court trials and could be subject to jail sentences or fines or both. It provides me no satisfaction to record that when the incident occurred, the resultant inaction of the PCB caused me to fore cast this sad result. Lack of proper action was also highlighted by the Pakistan High Commissioner’s report to the President and Foreign Office. The present disaster facing our cricket is a severe criticism on our management of the game over the last decade and a half. This article is dedicated to highlighting the causes that in my opinion have brought shame on my Country.
We must squarely face a reality that the present situation is a direct result of many sins of omission and commission of the PCB over many years. These include incompetence, mismanagement and mal intent. In the current instance one conjectures with some confidence that should the PCB have side lined these players on day one and then taken action based on the same facts available to the ICC some shame could have been avoided and also just possibly saved the career of a great youngster. To support the above I would take the reader back many years to many instances which collectively developed the perception that all the illegal ills in cricket lie at the doorstep of Pakistan.
The first instance which could be considered a starting point was a tour of Sri Lanka in 1997 when the Manager Intikhab Alam, to my information verbally advised the PCB that a player or players were involved in illegal activities during the tour. When required by the PCB to submit this in writing he failed to do so and was subsequently charge sheeted for his strange verbal report. This created the first whiff of the perception that Pakistan players were involved with book makers.
The second incident which added to this perception was when three Australian Players; Mark Waugh, Tim May and Shayne Warne alleged that Salim Malik had made illegal suggestions to them. The PCB appointed a very senior Supreme Court Jurist in Mr. Fakhruddin Ebrahim to examine the matter. His investigation found no evidence against Malik and found the Australians at fault. The ICC issued a press release to express their satisfaction at this result. Sadly for reasons that one can only guess at, Majid Khan on taking over requested Justice Qayum to re open the matter. Was it to appear ‘Holier than the Pope?’ This enquiry later followed up by Lt Gen Tauqir Zia, awarded a ban on Salim Malik and various punishments to other players. As these punishments sans Malik’s were either severely watered down or not executed one could suggest it was only done to gain popularity or gain control over the players. Interestingly the Courts subsequently cleared Salim Malik of all wrong doing. So much for the Qayum enquiry! It obviously only served to grow the perception that our players were corrupt. But I get ahead of myself.
The next Ad Hoc Chairman after Majid Khan, Mujib ur Rahman now famed for many things tried to control the players by punishing them for being in a Casino before a big game during the England tour. Better management could have achieved what ever the aim with much less bad publicity. Following this period we had the Ad Hoc appointment of Gen Tauqir a highlight of which has been described above. More recently in a television interview the General indicated that on one occasion ‘somebody’ had approached him to influence the selection of a particular player who could be more amenable to fixing matches. Oddly in spite of being a serving General with the authority and skill of the ISI available he chose to ignore this incident rather than getting to source of the filth and taking severe corrective action which may well have been more curative.
The Nawab of Bhopal who took over as the next Adhoc Chairman was in command when the ‘ball tampering’ incident at the Oval was mishandled. As this was an illegal act the resulting press did nothing for Pakistan’s reputation. The Renal Consultant who was present at the Oval and replaced Mr. Shehryar is best remembered by the absolute mess that was made by mishandling of the sad natural death of the Pakistan Coach in the West Indies. How we could have allowed this sad event to reflect badly on our players still remains a mystery as prevalent was a perception that the betting mafia was involved.
This brings us to the present when another all powerful, all commanding ad hoc Chairman is in the chair. This period of PCB history will be damned for the growth of the perception that only players from Pakistan indulge in all types of illegal activities. The perception has been nurtured by the many newspaper reports of misdeeds of some of our players over the last two and a half years and needs no repetition. During this period inaction on the part of PCB got to such a limit that the ICC was forced to act unilaterally. One wonders if this was as a result of their growing concern that there was institutional collusion. To stress this point one recalls newspapers reporting that Mazhar Majid who is now charged along with the players was physically present and in touch with the players as far back as the 2009 New Zealand tour and in between during other tours including Sri Lanka. The team management in the form of Yawar Saeed, Intikhab Alam et al and thus the Chairman were in full knowledge of the close relationship of this person with the players.
They certainly should have known that the individual was on the ICC watch list. In spite of this knowledge during the fated England Tour no effort was made by PCB team management or team security to take any preventative or corrective action even when perceptions had been splashed as facts by an English newspaper.
I would most strongly plead with Authority to not ignore facts. The players involved have been punished but what about those who are also morally responsible for this damage to our nation. Can we at least ensure that they never harm our cricket in future?
By Arshad Shami
Expectations, wishes and prayers apart many people are keeping their fingers crossed on the prospects of Pakistan’s victory in the ICC Cricket World Cup which starts on February 19 in the subcontinent barring Pakistan. And although the Pakistan team is under-prepared, its biggest attribute is that its consistentcy lies in inconsistency. On a day they turn the tables on the best teams in the world and on another, they go down as novices against minnows such as Ireland. The team has suffered because of a lack of commitment, resolve and strategy.
While the best teams start their innings in a solid fashion; concentrating on singles and twos with a few boundaries in the early stages of the game before launching an unrelenting attack on the bowlers, Pakistan team fails to follow any scheme or strategy. Here comes the test of leadership.
Shahid Afridi is a bold and attacking captain but is temperamental. He is one batsman in the game who can change the complexion of a game within minutes but cannot curb his instinct of trying to hit every ball which ultimately costs him most of the times.
Pakistan are in Pool A with strong teams like Australia, New Zealand and Sri Lanka. The other three are Canada, Kenya and Zimbabwe.
Pakistan’s first match will be against Kenya on February 23 in the Sri Lankan city of Hambantota before they square off against tournament hopefuls Sri Lanka on February 26 in Colombo for their first real test.
And although the team has recently won a series against New Zealand which has given them renewed hope and courage, Sri Lanka would be a tough opposition especially with a vociferous home crowd backing them.
Pakistan’s batting is brittle to say the least but if Mohammad Hafeez, Younis Khan, Misbah-ul-Haq, Afridi, Abdur Razzaq and Kamran Akmal play with a certain strategy, the team can hope to stay in contention. The bowling attack is quite competent but lacks in concentration and application. Here again one needs to use a cricketing brain to succeed.
Shoaib Akhtar, Umar Gul, Wahab Riaz are decent bowlers but at times they falter. Pakistan plan to play leg-spinner Abdur Rehman and off-spin wizard Saeed Ajmal while Afridi and Hafeez offer support. And it can be a lethal provided they are able to bowl well in tandem.
Razzaq is the star all-rounder and should be promoted up the batting order. Misbah has lately held the innings together when Younis Khan, our best bet has failed but Younis is one player who can stage a comeback and play a dominant part in providing the team with match-winning totals. Opener Ahmed Shehzad has shown a lot of promise but he must curb his instinct to attack every ball.
As a late development, pace bowler Sohail Tanvir has been replaced with Junaid Khan who must not be overawed by the heat of the World Cup as it will be his acid test.
Shahid Afridi’s best planning and strategy would be to follow in the footsteps of Abdul Hafeez Kardar or Imran Khan who used to hold a team conference on the eve of the matches and explain their strategy and game plan investing each player with the duty he was to perform. Even the fielders knew where to field when a particular bowler would be bowling.
There is no doubt that the absence of Muhammad Yousuf would be felt but then it is important that the team is allowed to put up its best show without any inhibitions or reservations. I am positive that with proper planning and strategy this team can deliver for a second time after 1992!
By Asif Iqbal
Much as every Pakistani must have been hoping against hope that somehow the axe would not fall on Salman Butt, Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Amir, it was always a forlorn hope. Except for those at the far end of the conspiracy theory scale, I think we all had more than just a sneaking suspicion that it would be difficult for the three to get out of this one, although there was reason to expect that it would not be quite as savage as this and that Amir may have got off with something considerably lighter.
In the end that really did not happen. Salman Butt got ten years with five suspended, Asif seven with two years suspended and Amir five years which basically means that if Salman and Asif do not get into any further trouble during the five years of their mandatory sentence and manage to keep their noses clean, they too would be eligible to play cricket after five years. Thus in effect all three got the basic minimum tariff under the ICC Code of Conduct which requires a minimum five year ban. To an extent that is not fair, for on the face of it Salman Butt’s culpability seems to be much greater than that of Mohammad Amir but it appears as if the judges had little place for flexibility given the provisions of the Code. It may even be reasonable to conclude that the tribunal itself was less than happy with the Code for it recommended to the ICC that it should revisit it with a view to providing some flexibility in the matter of the minimum tariff with so that special circumstances may be taken into account.
What comes out of all this -- and this is endorsed by a prominent British sports lawyer -- is the fact that the uncompromisingly harsh provisions of the code could themselves be a subject for the Court for Arbitration in Sport in Switzerland to consider should the players, especially Mohammad Amir, decide to take their case to that forum. That would go strongly against the wishes of the British media who are baying like a pack of wolves at their disappointment that a life ban was not awarded to the Pakistani trio. Ultimately, in real terms, it is more about sending a signal than any actual difference it may make to at least two of the three players, for international cricket, or any sport at the international level for that matter, is not the sort of thing you walk into after spending five years lounging in front of the TV. During that time others would have established themselves in the side and to replace them will require rather more than just turning up.
Pakistan cricket has much to learn by the manner in which it chooses to respond to this crisis. We can go down the ‘conspiracy theory’ lane if we want to and wallow in the self pity that it creates; or we can accept the fact that what these lads did was wrong and through their action they brought shame not only upon themselves and Pakistan cricket, but indeed on the image of the nation itself. Every possible effort has to be made to ensure that that does not happen again and it will be the PCB’s job to do so. An education process has to be undertaken both for the convicted players, who must not be ostracised, and those who are currently playing as well as those who may be in the pipeline; the education process has to start at the roots of the game, for if corruption is allowed at the club and first class level, it is bound to make its way to the international level. Perhaps education may not be enough and some from of policing may also be necessary. That will cost money but the PCB has to balance that against the consideration that it spends a lot of money any way in grooming a player and bringing him to the international level and all that money, time and effort goes down the drain when something like this happens.
There are people who will understandably be very dejected by what has happened, for whichever way one looks at it, the overwhelming feeling after this verdict can only be one of sadness and huge disappointment. But I can assure everyone that this is not by any means the end of cricket in Pakistan. The game is bigger than any individual and good as some these cricketers were, cricket in Pakistan is resilient enough to produce players as good as them and even better. A long time ago it was felt that when Fazal Mahmood left the game, Pakistan would never produce another bowler like him; but it produced even better bowlers in Imran Khan, Wasim Akram, Waqar Younis, Shoaib Akhtar, Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Amir. I will never be convinced that somehow, that is the end of the line. Yes, Pakistan cricket has suffered a grave set back but it is by no means the end of the road.
This has undoubtedly been Pakistan cricket’s darkest hour, but as they say, it is darkest before the dawn. In the recently concluded tour of New Zealand during which Pakistan won both the Test and one day series, the first rays of that dawn were perhaps visible. For the first time in many years the side had an opening pair which saw an entire series through on the basis of good performance; there was a settled middle order, even though Younis Khan and Umar Akmal were both not in the best of form, and Misbah provided the sort of reliability that we used to see from Mohammad Yousuf; the attack has a fine blend of pace and spin although the spin element did not really get tested in the one dayers and the fielding has gone up many notches with even Shoaib Akhtar bringing off some magnificent saves on the boundary line.
To an extent, it may even be said that Pakistan cricket needed a jolt of this nature. If this sort of thing has been going on -- and it has -- it needs to be stopped for the country and the innocent millions who follow the sport and support Pakistan cricket from the depths of their hearts must not be made to go through an experience of this nature ever again. If this incident goes some way in ensuring that, it would yet have served a purpose.
The writer is a former Pakistan Test captain
SHAHID AFRIDI (captain): Age 30. Right-hand batsman/right-arm leg spinner. ODIs 312, Runs 6,583, Highest 124, Average 23.93, Strike-Rate 113.75, Centuries 6, Fifties 31, Catches 101, Wickets 292, Best bowling 6-38, Average 35.42, Economy-Rate 4.64.
A hard-hitting and popular batsman, Afridi holds the record for the fastest one-day hundred - made off just 37 balls against Sri Lanka at Nairobi in 1996. he also holds the record of hitting most sixes (288) in one-day cricket. A wicket-taking leg-break bowler, Afridi can win matches single-handedly with his all-round abilities.
MISBAH-UL-HAQ: Age 36. Right-handed batsman. ODIs 63, Runs 1,757, Highest 93 not out, Average 39.93, Strike-Rate 79.32, Fifties 11, Catches 32.
Misbah-ul-Haq is widely regarded as a Test batsman, but his recent form on the team’s tour to New Zealand prompted the selectors to give him a try in the World Cup. Well-built Misbah can clear the field at will and is regarded as one of the sharpest fielders.
ABDUL RAZZAQ: Age 31. Right-hand batsman/right-arm medium-pacer. ODIs 254, Runs 4,959, Highest 112, Average 30.05, Strike-Rate 81.44, Centuries 3, Fifties 22, Catches 33, Wickets 262, Best bowling 6-35, Average 31.83, Economy-Rate 4.71.
Although his bowling is not as effective as it used to be, Razzaq can still play a crucial all-rounder role. He can be a ruthless hitter, a prowess he showed in a 72-ball 109 against South Africa at Abu Dhabi in October last year.
ABDUL REHMAN: Age 30. Left-hand batsman/Left-arm spinner. ODIs 15, Runs 69, Highest 31, Average 7.66, Strike-Rate 48.25, Catches 2, Wickets 12, Best bowling 2-20, Average 46.33, Economy-Rate 4.27.
Rehman is an effective slow left-armer who has done well in domestic one-day competition, stopping the slow of runs beasides taking wickets. He can also bat usefuly in the lower order.
AHMED SHAHZAD: Age 19. Right-hand batsman/Right-arm medium pacer. ODIs 9, Runs 294, Highest 115, Average 36.75, Strike-Rate 76.76, Hundreds 1, Catches 2.
Shahzad was touted as one of the best talents in Pakistan after he made his mark at Under-19 level, but disciplinary problems kept him away from the national team. He regained his berth after a prolific domestic season this year and now gives Pakistan an option as a hard-hitting opener.
ASAD SHAFIQ: Age 25. Right-hand batsman. ODIs 12, Runs 266, Highest 50, Average 22.16, Fifties 1, Strike-Rate 70.00, Catches 2.
Asad staked claim for a place in the national team on the basis of his 1,200-plus runs in Pakistan’s domestic season last year. He has the knack of occupying the crease and gives solidity to the middle-order.
KAMRAN AKMAL: Age 29. Right-hand batsman/Wicket-keeper. ODIs 129, Runs 2,717, Highest 124, Average 27.17, Hundreds 5, Fifties 8, Strike-Rate 85.17; Catches 128, Stumpings 21.
Kamran is a dashing batsman who has achieved success as opener in one-day cricket, giving Pakistan an option to use an extra bowler. His wicket-keeping at times falls short of international standards, causing Pakistan some serious damage.
MOHAMMAD HAFEEZ: Age 30. Right-hand batsman/Right-arm off-spinner. ODIs 64, Runs 1,410, Highest 115, Average 22.74, Hundreds 1, Fifties 7, Strike-Rate 63.85, Catches 26, Wickets 49, Best bowling 3-17, Average 35.26, Economy-Rate 4.53.
Hafeez is a useful all-rounder who until last year had not been able to turn his huge potential into notable performances. But the recent New Zealand tour, where he hit his first one-day hundred, may prove he is a worthy all-rounder who can play a lead role in World Cup.
SAEED AJMAL: Age 33. Right-hand batsman/Right-arm off-spinner. ODIs 35, Runs 115, Highest 33, Average 8.21, Strike-Rate 61.49, Catches 6, Wickets 44, Best bowling 4-33, Average 30.52, Economy-Rate 4.43.
A late comer to international cricket at 30, Ajmal made his mark in one-day cricket with his penetrative and wicket-taking bowling. He can be very useful on the slow and turning sub-continent pitches.
SHOAIB AKHTAR: Age 35. Right-hand batsman/Right-arm fast. ODIs 160, Runs 394, Highest 43, Average 9.16, Strike-Rate 73.50, Catches 20, Wickets 244, Best bowling 6-16, Average 24.78, Economy-Rate 4.76.
Akhtar’s career has been marred by controversies over his action, fitness levels and indiscipline. He was banned for two years on a failed dope test which was later overturned on appeal in 2006. Wants a last fling at the World Cup.
JUNAID KHAN: Age 21. Right-hand bat/Left-arm medium-fast. Yet to make ODI debut.
The 21-year-old was a late call-up after Sohail Tanveer was forced out with an injury. A product of Pakistan’s fine Under-19 set-up, he possesses great pace and stamina.
UMAR AKMAL: Age 20. Right-hand batsman. ODIs 30, Runs 878, Highest 102 not out, Average 33.76, Hundreds 1, Fifties 6, Strike-Rate 84.34, Catches 13.
A product of the Under-19 World Cup, Umar hearlded his arrival at senior level with a bang by hitting a debut hundred against New Zealand last year. He is dashing and effective and is touted as one of the fastest emerging players at the international level.
UMAR GUL: Age 26. Right-hand batsman/Right-arm fast. ODIs 80, Runs 246, Highest 33, Average 8.48, Strike-Rate 60.59, Catches 10, Wickets 119, Best bowling 6-42, Average 27.38, Economy-Rate 5.12.
Gul is the focus of the Pakistan attack, guiding them to a runners-up spot in the inaugural World Twenty20 in 2007 before helping them to clinch the title in the next edition of the shortest form two years later. Gul is famous for his appreciable swing and lethal yorkers.
WAHAB RIAZ: Age 25. Right-hand batsman/Left-arm fast. ODIs 13, Runs 55, Highest 21, Average 6.87, Strike-Rate 96.49, Catches 4, Wickets 23, Best bowling 3-22, Average 24.39, Economy-Rate 5.39.
Riaz is the latest addition in Pakistan’s rich, fast bowling arsenal. He started with a bang, taking five wickets on his debut against England at The Oval. Although questioned in the recent spot-fixing inquiry, Riaz was not charged by either the ICC or by British police.
YOUNIS KHAN: Age 33. Right-hand batsman/Left-arm fast. ODIs 213, Runs 6,028, Highest 144, Average 32.23, Strike-Rate 75.04, Hundreds 6, Fifties 39, Catches 112, Wickets 2, Best bowling 1-13, Average 119.50, Economy-Rate 6.07.
Younis is one of the most reliable batsman in Pakistan’s line-up. In the absence of Mohammad Yousuf, Pakistan will look to Younis for strength in the middle-order. Younis is equally good in the longer and shorter versions of the game, having a variety of strokes.
By Nabeel Hashmi
By Nabeel Hashmi
With the ICC 2011 Cricket World Cup just a few days away, the nation is caught up in the euphoria of crazy expectations and predictions ranging from the players to the teams participating in the mega event.
Everyone has their own superstar and a favourite teams albeit a child or an elderly. The fever of the World Cup has brought life back to the streets and grounds of the country which were barren from a long time.
Though the World Cup was shifted from Pakistan, yet cricket fanatics in Pakistan are eagerly displaying their love for the team.
The ‘News on Sunday’ conducted a survey to build a general opinion from different people about which teams are favourites to lift the crown this time.
And apart from many answers recieved, there was a general consensus amongst cricket fanatics that arch-rivals India will not be able to win the World Cup. Still many people, putting rivalry aside, were putting their money on India to become the first team to win the World CUp on their home soil.
And while the heartbeat remains with Pakistan, many believe that either one of South Africa, England, Australia and Sri Lanka may come out on top.
Every Pakistani feels that their players will take the national side to World Cup glory given their passion towards their homeland. But, some had genuine reasons to support their thoughts and expectations.
Adeel Hashmi, a first-year commerce student said that Pakistan will win it as they start the campaign on a high after defeating New Zealand in the recent ODI series.
“We’ve just defeated New Zealand at their home so the morale of the boys will be high which, is necessary going into such a big event,” he said.
“There is a healthy combination in the team as they fought hard in spite all the controversies and uncertainty surrounding them in recent weeks.
“Shahid Afridi is leading the side and that’s the most positive thing because he is a fighter and can lead from front if he can keep his cool.
“If Afridi can repeat his heroics of Twenty20 winning World campaign than it will be very hard for any side to stop Pakistan from the triumph.
“Then we have Abdur Razzaq, Kamran Akmal, Umar Akmal and Mohammad Hafeez who hit the ball miles complimenting the steady likes of Younis Khan, Asad Shafiq and cool-headed Misbah-ul-Haq.”
Experts believe that Pakistan has one of the best spin bowling combination with Afridi, off-spinner Saeed Ajmal and left-arm orthodox spinner Abdur Rehman.
Hasan Ahmed, a local player, said he was convinced that the bowling department is the key for Pakistan.
“Our bowling will win us the World Cup,” he said.
ìWhen you look at our bowling department, there is a lot of variety available.
“We are no short of bowling options as except the regular bowlers we have Abdur Razzaq and Mohammad Hafeez who can share the burden if any bowler has an off-day.
“Shahid Afridi and Saeed Ajmal are the best spin bowling duo, who can put the brakes with ease against the flow of runs.
“In Umar Gul, we have the most lethal fast bowler who can reverse swing the ball at pace.”
Hammad Ahmed, an A-Levels student gave his vote to South Africa and said that they will finally get rid of chokers tag.
“Everyone thinks that they are chokers but I believe this will be their World Cup,” he said.
“This is the best ever Proteas side and they will finally break their semifinal jinx.
“Hashim Amla has scored so many runs coming into the tournament and Greame Smith is back in form as well. In addition AB De Villiers and JP Duminy are excellent players of spin so that will be an added advantage.”
South Africa have a very versatile bowling attack and Hammad believes that it will only raise their chances to get one over their opponents.
“South Africa are usually short of decent spinners but that is not the case. They have Johan Botha and unknown commodity leg-spinner Imran Tahir who can turn out to be their trump card.
“Then the pace of Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel can be devastating for any opposition.
“So I have every right reason to believe that South Africa will be World Champion come April 2.”
The English Lions have got better and better after the T20 Triumph in West Indies which has made them strong title challengers though they had to suffer a hiccup going into the World Cup as they lost to Australia after the retaining the Ashes. But people believe that the loss will not be a problem and it was due to complacency as England wanted to reserve their tanks for the mega event.
Ahsan Ahmed, a student of Public Administration department of Karachi University is backing England to add another crown in their cabinet.
“England will certainly follow their T20 World Cup triumph with an ODI World Cup this time.
“I have not seen such an amazing combination in any team which was inevitable the way players fought in Ashes.
“Their main aim was to win Ashes -- ODI series was not played with high spirits which, must have been a part of strategy.
“In Graeme Swann they have currently the best off-spinner in the world.
“They have good all-rounders in Paul Collingwood, Luke Wright, Stuart Broad and Michel Yardy.
“Kevin Pietersen and James Anderson are proven match winners.”
Ricky Ponting’s Australia are also being backed by fans after they ran out comfortable winners in the ODI series against England after a humiliating Ashes loss.
Saqib Alauddin and Maimoona Saqib, a couple both backed Australia.
“They will go on to win the World Cup because they have just defeated England which shows that their players have character and know their way to victory,” Saqib said.
“The Aussies have won their matches when they were down and out so that shows how much resolute they are when it comes to handling pressure.”
Meanwhile his wife had other reasons.
“Brett Lee is back in the squad so that will provide that cutting edge to the Aussies.
“Though he has lost his pace a bit but he still has the experience to setup victories.
“Ricky Ponting will also be looking to end his career on a high so World Cup triumph can be the best possible to finish a marvelous career.”
People just don’t want India to win but it would be unfair to count out such a powerful team which is boasted by wealth of talent.
In Virender Sehwag, Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Yusuf Pathan they have players who can turn the match on its head with powerful hitting.
There is a shortage of words to describe little master Sachin Tendulkar who just continue to play on and on breaking every record coming in his way.
In addition players like Gautam Gamhir, Virat Kholi and Harbhajan Singh can come good too on their day.