cricket
Shattered hopes
Sadly, the fate of a cricketer with more than 5000 Test runs and a World Cup triumph under his belt is in the hands of a man who has done more harm to our cricket than anybody else in recent times.
By Khalid Hussain
It's often said that things get worse before they get better. In recent years one has been hoping that things will, somehow, start getting better for Pakistan cricket.

You were warned!
The present state of affairs has not come about over night. It has taken some fifteen years of a steady decline to arrive at what I feel is the bottom of the pit.
Malik Arshed Gilani p.s.n
Pakistan Cricket is really at a cross roads. Maybe saying that is a huge understatement. More accurately Pakistan Cricket is in a very deep hole. In our situation, the saving grace is that there is only the way up. In our history we have never been in a position where we counted almost no friends amongst the member countries of the ICC.

Ijaz Butt: an apology!
By Dr Nauman Niaz
Ijaz Butt's regime could easily be abhorred for the wastefulness of many decisions and the inefficiency of many regulations-and interestingly he hasn't really tried doing something about the problems, partly because he has lost support from within and abroad and also his rundown, sleazy methods of management and disreputable U-turns that he has taken since his squalid tenure began in 2008.

Aisam should lob for more success: Saeed Hai
'Aisam has proved himself to be a really good doubles player but I believe that if he works harder on a few aspects of his game, he could do even better at the international level'
By Bilal Hussain
When Aisam-ul-Haq Qureshi reached the men's doubles and mixed doubles finals of this year's US Open last month, most of his compatriots back at home were pleasantly surprised. After all, no other Pakistani tennis player has ever played in a Grand Slam final but the 30-year-old from Lahore defied history by reaching two finals at the US Open. Aisam lost in both the finals but even by playing in them he had managed to achieve stardom back in Pakistan.

Power, politics and CW Games
By Aamir Bilal
The 19th Commonwealth Games were inaugurated in style in New Delhi on October 3 leaving behind the tag of "Shame Games" because of the country's inefficient bureaucracy, poor infrastructure and squalor. It was no less than Prime Minister Manmohan Singh himself who realized the crises situation and importance of the event from the Indian economic and world wide image of an immerging super power, thus jump starting the stalled preparations from a driving seat and steering the games to a timely and successful start.

Reds in an uphill battle for survival
By Nabeel Hashmi
The most illustrious club in English football, Liverpool, are now in dire straits; languishing at the bottom three of English Premier League (EPL) with only six points out of their first seven games of the season. Just five years ago, Liverpool were crowned European champions in Istanbul. Now, the Merseyside club is fighting for survival in the domestic league.

 

cricket

Shattered hopes

Sadly, the fate of a cricketer with more than 5000 Test runs and a World Cup triumph under his belt is in the hands of a man who has done more harm to our cricket than anybody else in recent times.

By Khalid Hussain

It's often said that things get worse before they get better. In recent years one has been hoping that things will, somehow, start getting better for Pakistan cricket.

There's been no such luck and our national pastime remains mired in this seemingly endless things-getting-worse phase as people at the helm of Pakistan's cricket affairs continue committing the same mistakes again and again.

I won't even talk about the so-called 'spot-fixing' scandal which was a direct result of what is a weak and incompetent Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB).

Instead, let's talk about PCB's decision to recall Misbah-ul-Haq out of nowhere and then to install him as Pakistan's Test captain for the series against South Africa in the United Arab Emirates next month. Let's talk about what's happening to our World Cup 2011 plans. More importantly, let's also talk about PCB's decision to snub Younis Khan once again even though almost everybody I know agrees that Pakistan desperately need a batsman like him.

Misbah is already 36 which means that age is definitely not on his side. His last Test appearance came more than eight months ago in Sydney where he flopped in both the innings, falling for 11 and 0. He hasn't featured in any One-day International after playing a Champions Trophy match against Australia at Centurion in September 2009. His last four Twenty20 International outings have fetched him just 19 runs.

Yet Misbah was picked to represent Pakistan in all three formats of the game against South Africa. More importantly, PCB has decided to appoint the middle-order batsman as Pakistan's Test captain, replacing Salman Butt who is currently under suspension for his alleged role in a corruption scandal.

Can a captain with such credentials and a question mark over his form inspire a team like Pakistan, which is still reeling after an acrimonious tour of England?

A quick look at his recent stats makes it quite obvious that Misbah is just a shadow of his previous self. His last eight Test scores are: 21, 33, 0,7,65,0,11 and 0 a total of 137 runs at 19.57. He was a controversial choice even when Pakistan picked him for the ICC World Twenty20 this year and was dumped after he flopped miserably in the Caribbean. His last seven T20I scores are: 0,3,3,13,41,8 and 5. Misbah has a good T20 career record with 577 runs from 29 matches at 36.06 but he has just scored 85 runs in his last ten matches.

Misbah was touted as a future captain after scoring prolifically on the 2007 tour of India but is yet to prove his leadership ability.

In contrast, Younis Khan inspires a lot more trust. The 32-year-old may not have played for Pakistan since the catastrophic tour of Australia but nobody can argue the fact that he is one of Pakistan's most prolific Test batsmen. Younis has a career average of over 50 in Test cricket and is a part of an elite group of players, who have scored a Test triple century.

But people at the helm of Pakistan's cricket affairs will tell you that Younis needs a 'clearance' to get selected for national duty.

What clearance? Has he been accused of fixing matches? Has he used or carried illegal drugs? Has he beaten up a team-mate?

No, he hasn't committed any of those crimes. Had he been involved in such practices, probably the PCB would have taken him in the team because, after all, the Board has been backing players with poor track records. Most of the players, who have been involved in serious breaches of discipline are either in the team or will be picked for it once cleared by higher authorities. You know what I mean.

What Younis has done is much worse, at least in the eyes of the PCB chiefs. He has defied them and their tendency to take whimsical decisions. Younis has dared to question their decision to ban him after the tour of Australia. He has asked for reasons that forced the PCB to ban him indefinitely after the tour. And he refused to say sorry, insisting that he won't apologize for something he didn't do in the first place.

It's actually absurd. Because the fate of a cricketer with over 5000 Test runs and a World Cup triumph under his belt is in the hands of a man who has done more harm to our cricket than anybody else, at least in recent times.

Ijaz Butt, the PCB chairman, is the man who has refused to clear Younis for Pakistan duty. Why are we still allowing such a character to dictate terms is beyond my comprehension.

Pakistan were crushed by England in the previous series and it doesn't seem that things would get any better for them when they face South Africa in Abu Dhabi and Dubai in two T20s, five ODIs and two Tests.

Even more alarming is the fact that Pakistan have once again put themselves on the wrong track in the lead up to the World Cup. The much-awaited event is just a few months away but sadly Pakistan are only messing up things which could lead to yet another World Cup disaster. The 1992 champions flopped miserably in the 2003 and 2007 editions and might once again disappoint millions of their fans both at home and abroad in World Cup 2011 to be played in Bangladesh, India and Sri Lanka.

A whispering campaign has been going on in our cricketing circles about a rift between Pakistan coach Waqar Younis and his senior players. By delaying naming a captain for the limited-overs series against South Africa, the PCB has only added weight to all such rumours.

Earlier this year, the Board has hinted that Shahid Afridi will continue as Pakistan's captain till World Cup 2011 but it had a few second thoughts before retaining the all-rounder as skipper for the UAE tour.

It's an open secret that Pakistan's team is far from united right now. There was similar acrimony among team members before the 2003 World Cup in South Africa and four years later Inzamam-ul-Haq failed to unite the team and Pakistan crashed out of the first round following a shocking defeat against Ireland. Unless, Pakistan miraculously overcome the problems in their dressing room, there seems little hope for them to regain the World Cup next year.

Khalid is Hussain is Sports Editor of The News, Karachi

khalidhraj@gmail.com

 

 

You were warned!

The present state of affairs has not come about over night. It has taken some fifteen years of a steady decline to arrive at what I feel is the bottom of the pit.

Malik Arshed Gilani p.s.n

Pakistan Cricket is really at a cross roads. Maybe saying that is a huge understatement. More accurately Pakistan Cricket is in a very deep hole. In our situation, the saving grace is that there is only the way up. In our history we have never been in a position where we counted almost no friends amongst the member countries of the ICC.

The ECB which was recently gifted a financial windfall by equally sharing our income from our 'home tour' in lieu of ten or fifteen percent and should have been kindly disposed were antagonized by the ill-advised and ill-timed comments by Ijaz Butt. The craven apology which may have saved him from a losing and costly court case will sadly not bring back the lost good will. In the cruel real world people usually kick the fallen especially if the fall is self inflicted. Incidentally if the players are required to pay for their own defense, I hope the Butt travelled to Britain on his own cost. After all he was personally being sued.

Our players also have not done us proud. It is immaterial whether they get convicted because by association with very doubtful characters they have caused our country great shame. Our domestic cricket lies in tatters and the infrastructural management is non existent. We have a PCB chairman who stands vilified and it is fair challenging any one to name another individual who under these circumstances would dare to stay on. Finally, the event that about defines the depths to which we have sunk is what happened at the Commonwealth Games. A provincial minister, who sadly heads the Sindh cricket body shamed us all by fighting with an outstanding athlete on television to carry our flag during the march past. He then lied to protect his actions by saying that Zafarullah Khan Jamali did the same in the Olympics.

The present state of affairs has not come about over night. It has taken some fifteen years of a steady decline to arrive at what I feel is the bottom of the pit. Let me scream out at the top of my voice and ask you all to join me in saying that whosoever has had the temerity of taking on the top job in the PCB in the last 15 years has fallen flat on his face. The individuals have listed amongst them, a general, a high ranking diplomat, a brother of an important minister, a very qualified doctor and finally a big businessman with some cricket background. In their own domains they were probably highly skilled and would have gone down well in limited history if they had not had the false sense of confidence to convince the Patron to give them this job. This should act as a warning to all those who believe that they can do better where these people have miserably failed. The Pakistan Cricket Board is a veritable mine field and unless the person leading it has major management skills related to Pakistan, an in-depth understanding of the game of cricket, a very great amount of luck and some extra sensory perception he will blow himself up. Based on these factors I would suggest that anybody who uses influence to get this job needs his head examined. It can be said with little fear of contradiction that if a person needs to use influence to get this prized but possibly poisoned chalice, he does not have the ability to execute the nigh impossible task at hand. The person who takes on this task in addition to having the needed job skills must have the ability to say no to very powerful influences in our country. This he cannot do if he is a 'sifaarishi'. Let it be noted that YOU WERE WARNED.

In the mean while back at the ranch life goes on as before. Cricket modalities continue to being mauled. We have selectors who do not select the final team. We select a team without first selecting the captain. We continue to play musical chairs with a very limited number of managers. We take shop soiled and tried goods that have been fixed into important jobs in spite of their past performance and bring them back as managers. For the sake of the All Mighty if the man could not get the respect of his players as a coach how can he be elevated to be a manager? If my memory serves me right he reported against the 'cleanliness' of the players whom he now intends to manage. He must really need a job badly to compromise his own standards to such an extent. Oh how the mighty have fallen.

The team selection is not really surprising when we consider the standards applied to selecting the touring hierarchy. The glaring omission of Younis Khan is shameful. Consider for a moment as to what crime could be worse than alleged match-fixing. Surely disagreeing with a spent manager or not falling in line with the chairman's selections for the good of the team cannot be reason for permanent exclusion. All the experts feel that the playing conditions in the UAE are similar to conditions in Pakistan which should have strongly encouraged our selectors to pick a young side. It would have been the ideal time to blood youngsters as some major players are not available. This again has not been done. I suppose the selectors did their bit at ruining some of the youngsters by picking them for the difficult conditions of England. I also suppose that it is too much to ask for any productive and positive thinking from our present lot.

malikgilani2002@gmail.com

 

 


 
Ijaz Butt: an apology!

By Dr Nauman Niaz

Ijaz Butt's regime could easily be abhorred for the wastefulness of many decisions and the inefficiency of many regulations-and interestingly he hasn't really tried doing something about the problems, partly because he has lost support from within and abroad and also his rundown, sleazy methods of management and disreputable U-turns that he has taken since his squalid tenure began in 2008.

Earlier last week he flew to the United Kingdom, arrogantly subsisting that he wasn't eager to tender an apology to the England Cricket Board about his categorical remarks about several English players involved in deliberate underperformance during the Pakistan-England third one-day international at The Oval. His grubby rejoinder to the spot-fixing accusations by ICC's Chief Executive Haroon Lorgat had appeared in the press in response to a story published in The Sun, a British tabloid newspaper.

Had Butt been erudite he should have worked within a framework. Instead he went to England accompanied by board's Austin Reed clad legal advisor and tendered an apology allegedly as in writing given to him by the ECB; he submitted mundanely. I must acknowledge that he tried using the word that he had withdrawn the statement but an apology is offered in search of forgiveness when a wrong has been made. Depending upon the degree of hurt experienced by the other party, it is possible that forgiveness may take time, if it is to happen at all. Despairing and giving up hope entirely, as it seemed, Butt might not be forgiven, Pakistan never be excused as evident from Jonathan Trott's reaction, hurling a slap while calling Wahab Riaz a match-fixer.

ECB chief Giles Clarke should have known that an apology was worthless unless it was a sincere sorry. If Butt was not truly apologetic and coerced into his action by the ICC or his own government, fake or half-hearted submission could actually make a bad situation worse. Crude and often irked, Butt should have known that an effective apology is both a science and an art. The science is considered to be the components of an effective apology and the art is said to be the way in which the apology is delivered, both combining to achieve the intended goal, forgiveness or escaping libel cases.

Butt should have sounded sincerely sorry and looked the part. If had already made his apology perfect, he should have apologised sooner than delaying it, taking the pains to travel all the way to England; that could have been done from Lahore. Questions which are imperative is that had he forgiven himself after he had apologised to the England cricketers and the board and two is he going to restrain or refrain repeating the bad, which he is prone to do being uncontrolled, impulsive and incessantly touched by irrationality.

I hope that Giles Clarke meant what he said after Butt had tendered his apology that he would continue to provide space to Pakistan cricket, also trying to bring international cricket back to the war-torn country. If Butt has acknowledged that he was wrong implicating England cricketers without even having the circumstantial evidence and without actually understanding the mechanics of the charges he was implying, and if he has taken the responsibility for causing hurt, offered restitution and delivered a sincere apology then there is little left in his control. He should learn his lesson from the experience and move on.

He should acquaint himself that actions speak loudly and so he should be backing up his apology with affirmative action taking great care not to repeat the same mistake.

Butt must acknowledge the fact that India virtually controls world cricket. I am not trying to acquit Pakistan players of all the wrong doings, and not eager to absolve them of all the allegations made against them but realistically it seems more than the bit appearing in the newspapers and television reports. There are three major players in cricket's recent opera. Ijaz Butt, a complete failure as PCB's chairman and actually not being able to act as a catalyst in the reaction that burnt the Pakistaniness.

Then is Haroon Lorgat working directly under Sharad Pawar, now ICC's President and previously from the BCCI and also part of India's Federal Cabinet. Lorgat isn't actually from South Africa.

He has strong Indian links, a 50 year old chartered accountant he was appointed Chief Executive of the International Cricket Council on April 4th 2008, succeeding Malcolm Speed from Australia who has recently termed Ijaz Butt as a 'buffoon' and Pakistan cricket a 'basket case'. Lorgat's nomination followed Imtiaz Patel's refusal to accept the post. Lorgat is an Indian South African working as Chief Executive of Kapela Investment Holdings based in Cape Town and Johannesburg, and was also a senior partner at Ernst & Young from 2002 until 2007.

Lorgat is of Indian descent, his family originating from a small village in Western India called Manekpore-Rethvania in the state of Gujarat, India. He is a member of the Association for the Advancement of Black Accountants of Southern Africa and played first-class cricket in the Howa Bowl from 1977 until 1991, in the final years of apartheid. It isn't anymore the ICC, it is BCCI stationed at Dubai? India vs Pakistan paranoid state, as it seems.

Giles Clarke isn't any angel. Lancashire launched a withering attack on him and his leadership of the England and Wales Cricket Board for allowing to party to the Stanford affair. In 2008 Michael Cairns, a heavy hitting businessman who succeeded Jack Simmons as the Chairman of Lancashire, claimed in his annual report to members that there was a serious lack of governance, transparency and accountability within the leadership and administration of the board. The Stanford debacle was a disgrace but regrettably only one example of mismanagement that the ECB had been guilty since 2007.

I feel that Butt's apology shouldn't have only involved the England cricketers and the ECB but he owed it to the 180 million people of Pakistan. Butt or butted, as he seems now, I feel that the ICC should be met up front. I feel, it has failed miserably to administer international cricket as it was required to being the parent body. The ICC has completely ignored the equity implications of the policies they had urged on other nations. And the increasingly inescapable fact that ICC's apartheid, as it has actually been practiced eruditely, tended to make Pakistan more rather than less unequal. Some of ICC's problems have been caused by how they interact with the PCB, presently a weakly governed body. Acting as if they have come up with a unique, guaranteed formula for prosperity, they sometimes with the assistance of 'invisible hands' have bullied Pakistan into doing things their way. Both through their governing diplomacy, and through the influence of the India dominated body, dispensing prescriptions to Pakistan, that are worse than committing a suicide. Butt hasn't realised and I must end saying that ICC's bedside manners have been dreadful; and as one patient after another couldn't help noticing, the medicine they have dispensed to Pakistan is, in important respects, not really the same stuff they drink in their own offices?

naumanniaz@hotmail.com

 

 

 

Aisam should lob for more success: Saeed Hai

'Aisam has proved himself to be a really good doubles player but I believe that if he works harder on a few aspects of his game, he could do even better at the international level'

By Bilal Hussain

When Aisam-ul-Haq Qureshi reached the men's doubles and mixed doubles finals of this year's US Open last month, most of his compatriots back at home were pleasantly surprised. After all, no other Pakistani tennis player has ever played in a Grand Slam final but the 30-year-old from Lahore defied history by reaching two finals at the US Open. Aisam lost in both the finals but even by playing in them he had managed to achieve stardom back in Pakistan.

Because of his US Open heroics, hopes were high in Pakistan when Aisam went to New Delhi to feature in the Commonwealth Games. His supporters were sure that together with Aqeel Khan, his long-time Davis Cup teammate, Aisam will put Pakistan on the victory stand of the Games' tennis event.

But Pakistanis were in for a big disappointment when both Aisam and Aqeel failed to impress much in the competition that had failed to attract some of the biggest names in the sport. Aqeel lost in the first round of the men's singles while Aisam could just reach the second round. Together, they lost in the men's doubles event as well.

"Aisam and Aqeel will have to fine tune their game if they are to win at a high-level event like the Commonwealth Games," Saeed Hai, Pakistan's former Davis Cup captain, told 'The News on Sunday' in an interview.

"Aisam has proved himself to be a really good doubles player but I believe that if he works harder on a few aspects of his game, he could do even better at the international level," added Hai, who is currently serving as Pakistan's chief selector.

Hai said that he analysed Aisam's game during the US Open doubles final in which the Pakistani ace and his partner Rohan Bopanna went down against Bryan Brothers of the United States.

"It was a matter of touch and go but Aisam and Bopanna were rather unlucky and lost a close match," stressed Hai, who has represented Pakistan at the Wimbledon, French Open and US Open.

"Two good lobs by the Bryan brothers at crucial moments turned the match in their favour," recalled Hai.

"Lob in my opinion is a double edged weapon because it can be used as defensive or offensive weapon. In international ranking tournaments one must have seen that crucial points are won by disguised lobs. Lobbing occasionally creates a doubt in the mind of a net rusher whether to get close to the net or keep some distance from it to cover the lob. When a net rusher is in two minds a passing shot could be tried but one thing is important that the passing shot should be a maximum of two inches above the net so that it is not easy to hit a winning volley and point remains alive."

Hai said that both Aisam and Bopanna served powerfully but their serves were a bit too high.

"I observed that service return from Aisam-Bopanna were powerful but a bit too high which makes it easy to volley back. I think Aisam-Bopanna should not have gone back to the baseline to receive opponents' service. This tactic, in my opinion, is not advisable because it opens the whole tennis court to volley wherever one likes and from baseline it is just not easily possible to win the point against two good players.

"Even in singles at the high level tennis, passing shots from the baseline hardly get through to win the point.

"From baseline when one is under attack by the net rusher, the best strategy is a high defensive lob falling about half a foot near the baseline." Hai came out with a few suggestions which he believes can help Aisam do even better on the world circuit.

"I will advise Aisam to practice lobbing from the baseline or from outside the baseline, lobs that fall half a foot from the baseline. Also the return of service should be low and angular, no more than two inshes above the net. In my opinion, Aisam should also reduce his back swing for return of first service. It will improve his percentage for the return of first service which is very important to break an opponent's service."

Hai signed off by stressing that a bit of luck and a better strategy can help Aisam-Bopanna win international titles.

"Aisam and his partner players really well and deserve full praise. However, a little change of strategy and little bit of luck can help them do even better in future."

Saeed Hai is a former Davis Cup captain, who has represented Pakistan at the Wimbledon, US Open and French Open tournaments in the past.

Bilalsports86@yahoo.com

 

 

Power, politics and CW Games

By Aamir Bilal

The 19th Commonwealth Games were inaugurated in style in New Delhi on October 3 leaving behind the tag of "Shame Games" because of the country's inefficient bureaucracy, poor infrastructure and squalor. It was no less than Prime Minister Manmohan Singh himself who realized the crises situation and importance of the event from the Indian economic and world wide image of an immerging super power, thus jump starting the stalled preparations from a driving seat and steering the games to a timely and successful start.

This timely realization by the Indian leadership has not only saved India from a huge international embarrassment but also improved country's stock index bench mark beyond the psychological level of 20,000 points for the first time in the nation's economic history which now promises a robust growth in the post Commonwealth Games scenario.

How leadership can convert adversity into opportunity has been well displayed by Manmohan Singh and how an opportunity is transformed into an ugly and shameful situation in front of millions of audience was adequately displayed by Pakistan's Chef de Mission Dr Mohammad Ali Shah, who denied potential medal winner Shujahuddin Malik of his right to carry the national flag during the opening ceremony.

Commonwealth is the second largest sport event of the world after Olympics. Currently there are 54 members of Commonwealth and 71 different teams participate in this multi-sport event which has been held since 1930 with Australia, Canada, England, New Zealand, Scotland and Wales attending all the editions since its inception.

This sporting competition was first proposed by Reverend Astley Cooper in 1891. In 1928 Melville Robinson of Canada was asked to organize the first ever British Empire Games which were later held in Hamilton Canada in 1930. The name was later changed to British Empire and Commonwealth Games in 1954 and to British Commonwealth Games in 1970 and assumed its current name in 1978.

Watched every four years by almost one billion people, Commonwealth Games are much more than the second largest sporting event; they're an international political and economic colossus. Although many sport fans and analysts consider "Politics" an unwelcome intruder in any form of games but politics are in fact an integral part of games.

The glamour and attractiveness of Commonwealth Games and the fact people care give Commonwealth performances and even opening and closing ceremonies great political significance and weight. The Games even serve as a focus for national and ideological rivalries between states. One sport scholar called the Games "metaphoric war between national states".

Likewise, governments frequently use sport as a weapon of their foreign policy or as a channel to communicate special messages. The "Ping-Pong" diplomacy of 1971 that brought American table tennis players to China testified to China's interest in reestablishing political contacts with USA. The Commonwealth Games has suffered from political boycotts over its history, largely associated with apartheid-era South Africa. Nigeria boycotted the 1978 Games in protest of New Zealand's sporting contacts with South Africa, while 32 of 59 nations from Africa, Asia, and the Caribbean boycotted the 1986 Commonwealth Games due to the Thatcher government's attitude towards South African sporting contacts.

There are a total of 31 sports and seven para sports which are approved by Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF). These games are further categorized into three types. Core sports like athletics, boxing, squash, swimming, hockey, rugby sevens, netball, badminton and weightlifting are permanent features in every Games, while a number of optional sports may be picked by the host nation. This time India picked shooting because of its strength in the event and it has so far made the difference for India in maintaining second position in the medal tally. The third category is recognized sports which have been approved by the CGF but needs more attention and expansion; the host nation has an option of not picking these sports for their programme until the CGF's requirements are fulfilled.

Pakistan's 75-member contingent including 17 officials is presently in India. Though Pakistan hockey team has won both of its opening encounters convincingly, but it's sad that this time our participation in athletics event is nil. This happened because recently nine Pakistani athletes were caught for doping by Pakistan Athletics Federation.

We here in Pakistan are entangled in numerous issues ranging from availability of basic food items for the poor to the payment of utility bills by the salaried class. Terrorism, suicide attacks and target killing is now an every day affair and sport in such like situation is a non issue for both organisers as well as participants in the country. With sports at the back burner in the country, who cares if the Commonwealth Games hold a firm and unique place in the consciousness of the united world?

Whether we discuss the Games next door or not the popular appeal of this elite sport competition will undoubtedly continue and even the future organisers of 20th CWG in Scotland in 2014 will reap rich dividends from the vent in their country. How unfortunate it is that sports in Pakistan is organised and managed by intellectually barren people. This gang of crooks has hijacked the most potent tool of social integration and national unity. They are nothing but parasites on our national exchequer.

Meanwhile, India has managed the Games well. They now understand the power and politics of sport and there next bench mark would be a bid for the Olympics. Beijing has done it and now it's New Delhi's turn. When would there be a realization in Islamabad is a question that would perhaps haunt us for several years to come.

sdfsports@gmail.com

 

 

Reds in an uphill battle for survival

By Nabeel Hashmi

The most illustrious club in English football, Liverpool, are now in dire straits; languishing at the bottom three of English Premier League (EPL) with only six points out of their first seven games of the season. Just five years ago, Liverpool were crowned European champions in Istanbul. Now, the Merseyside club is fighting for survival in the domestic league.

Liverpool have five European Cups in its trophy cabinet along with eighteen league titles -- a record they share with Manchester United. In addition to that, they have also won the FA Cup seven times, UEFA Cup and the UEFA Super Cup thrice.

The club has been badly affected by the departures of Xabi Alonso to Real Madrid last season, and the departures of manager Rafael Benitez and midfield enforcer Javier Mascherano this season to Inter Milan and Barcelona respectively. Former Fulham manager Roy Hodgson, who guided the cottagers to the Europa league final last season, was appointed to fill in Benitez' void but he has not been able to display his magic.

The appointment of Hodgson didn't flatter anyone at all and his selection raised several question marks. With all due respect to him, he isn't a Liverpool-type manager at all. Guiding a team to a final is totally different from tasting victory and the owners picked a 'Jack' for a seat which was waiting for a 'King'.

Liverpool fans must be wondering where it has gone for their club? American owners Geroge Gillet and Tom Hicks alongside Benitez are largely responsible for team's dreadful position. The owners never supported Benitez' plans of buying star players and only once broke their financial kitty when they splashed more than twenty million pounds for Fernando Torres.

While, Rafael Benitez went crazy signing scores of players in his tenure for the club, his decision to replace Alonso with AS Roma's Alberto Aquallani did not pay off.

Local boys Jamir Carragher and captain marvel Steven Gerrard have too failed in their bid to revive the glory days for Liverpool. Torres and Gerrard never looked the same since Alonso left for Real. It was Alonso's precision which gave a cutting edge to Liverpool's attack.

Liverpool have been in the top flight of English Football for forty-eight years and have mostly finished in the top four after the launch of the English Premier League in 1994. However, things have changed dramatically in the last two seasons. It will be a brave and an early call to count them as relegation candidates but if things don't change soon, Liverpool will be in deep trouble. It will be a shame if the club of their stature goes down like this.

The fans have turned up against Hodgson, chanting Kenny Dalglish's name in the last match at Anfield when Liverpool conceded a home defeat at the hands of newly-promoted Blackpool. King Dalglish almost took over from Benitez but then Hodgson was appointed. It looks a matter of time when Roy will be sacked due to a disastrous start to the season.

Liverpool greats Ian Rush, Michael Owen, Robbie Fowler and Kenny Dalglish would all be itching to wear the red jersey once again to save the club. A new manager seems to be the answer to Liverpool's woes at this moment in time!

Nabeel_h88@hotmail.com

 



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