No way to
go but up
Lack of professionalism destroying
The end of Ijaz Butt’s disastrous era brings new hope for Pakistan cricket
By Malik Arshed Gilani
I feel certain that most of Pakistan is very relieved that Ijaz Butt’s term as the Chairman of PCB has come to an end and not a moment too soon. It has been without doubt the most controversial and damning period in the history of our cricket. It leaves a frightful legacy for the new incumbent who will need the support of all of us if he has any chance of turning things around.
It is only fair to record the ills that this last period has left, so that if all agree, then we have a baseline to judge the improvements made. In my view the greatest damage has been done by practicing the presumption that all the management and cricketing talent needed in PCB operations existed only within the precincts of Lahore or in the Punjab. This has harmed Karachi, Quetta and to some extent Peshawar. Almost nobody from these areas was involved with the management of the PCB and thus the associations felt ignored and frustrated. In the last three or more years this manifested itself by lowering standards of the local teams.
Match-fixing and spot-fixing is another major area where sins of omission and commission of the PCB have most seriously damaged the reputation of Pakistan. The case is still ongoing in London. I am on record, having written that had Butt, who was the PCB chief, acted with alacrity and firmness much of the shame could have been avoided. I cannot for the life of me understand the total inaction by the PCB at the time. The records will show that apparently Butt even misled our High Commissioner in the UK.
The appointments and disappointments of CEO’s, Chief Selectors, Coaches and Heads of the PCB Academy until the perfect yes men were found, a matter of record, is another of the ills of this era? Butt in turn insulted some of our great cricketers like Javed Miandad, Aamir Sohail and Abdul Qadir. It is a just complaint by our greats that they are not given their due. They have a lot to give to our cricket development. Only when the players are not used properly do they insist on interfering in matters that are not covered by their skills and experience. Who can argue with Miandad’s talents? He should be totally involved with the development of our young and the search for talent. He has a great eye and skill in these areas.
Whilst the list of ills could be endless, I will mention only one more which has been highlighted by Zulqarnain Haider. He has charged that large monies changed hand in the selection of players for the national team. This rumour has been doing the circuit for much time. Whilst I cannot of course judge the accuracy of the allegation the fact that some very deserving players were consistently excluded leading to destruction of our national talent pool does make me wonder!
I can only hope that the incoming chairman takes a note of the successful periods in PCB’s own history. This would assist him in following the path to glory. He must revert to the essence of the previous very sound, tried, and tested Constitution of the PCB which functioned most successfully until uneducated and illiterate individuals, with reference only to cricket, cricket administration and management, tried to meddle with it to suit their own ends. Let me add that they were not even competent enough to achieve that dubious end. The PCB must revive the General Body and the democratic functioning systems of the Board. May I add that any chairman who in spite of controlling the purse strings and other essential and legal perks cannot control the associations cannot be deemed suitable for the job?
Hopefully the incoming chairman, whom I do not know personally, but who has strong corporate and management back ground should have little difficulty with the feelings of insecurity that seem to beset most of the chairmen over the last ten years or twelve years. Sadly all of them wanted an autocratic system to provide them total control with no accountability. Generally, so that they could use the PCB in providing perks to people who could keep them in the chair in spite of incompetence.
The success of our due cricket was due largely to institutions and clubs. The PCB should support all institutions and ensure the legality and existence of all registered clubs. Finally one last comment which I believe has possibly been at the root of causing most of the chairmen to fall flat on their faces; get rid of the vast majority of individuals and their kin that have been wedged into the PCB system for the last decade. A good example is the Rana clan. They may well have even done some good, but it is an accepted fact that in the trying and testing jobs of the PCB where influence is an evil, time on task in one job can lead to misuse of that influence.
In a lot of the other cases, individuals are well past their use by date and their record does not support them staying on. Sadly in Pakistan the ability to hide unpleasant truths from the boss, agreeing with all his ideas and generally praising him at all times is a bigger asset than ability. Lastly a major PR exercise with the ICC and the other Boards is a must.
The Pakistan team in Abu Dhabi has started well. I hope it was only poor captaincy and no other reason which caused Misbah to discontinue with Junaid after the tea in spite of being in the midst of a wicket-taking spell. Sri Lanka went on to score 197 and it still required Junaid to end the innings.
Shahid Afridi, who was on a flight with me from Bangkok, expressed a very genuine keenness to again play for Pakistan. He has some good years left and certainly deserves to play. It will be very sad if he is not selected for the ODI’s now that for whatever reason he has withdrawn his retirement.
The Umpire Decision Reversal System (UDRS) is perhaps one of the most useful technological advances in the game of cricket. Ever since its inception, the game has been subject to dubious umpiring decisions mostly due to lack of technology and at times lack of quality umpiring. That’s why the arrival of UDRS seemed like a gift from the heavens for most countries putting the onus on the umpires to bring their level up. Nonetheless as always, India has recently succeeded in convincing the International Cricket Council (ICC) that the UDRS remains an option for the teams which they may choose to or not to exercise.
It is important to mention that along with the UDRS the use of the Hotspot which complements the UDRS is of utmost importance. The Hotspot helps the third umpire in seeing whether there was any deflection of the bat or not.
The UDRS has been monumental in making umpires improve their quality of umpiring especially in terms of Lbw’s. Mind goes back to the West Indies era where they dominated world cricket with its famous battery of pacemen but what people often forget is the support that bowling line up had in form of the umpires. It was not only the bowlers but the batsmen who also took advantage of shoddy umpiring. Perhaps one of the reasons as to why the ICC introduced neutral umpires in home Tests was largely due to the biased umpiring in the West Indies and India. It does not come as much surprise that India has opposed the use of UDRS given the country historically has never been home to good quality umpires barring the exception of a few. It really does make one question India’s status as the number one side in the world with its inhibition to use the UDRS exposing them at the international forum. India’s dismal tour of England would suggest that in spite of their inhibitions it was their lack of appliance and ability to deal with overcast conditions which resulted in their downfall and not the UDRS. Then why have an issue with it?
Since the introduction of UDRS and the series in which it has been used when India has played, there has been firstly a betterment in the quality of umpiring and more importantly the amount of decisions being reversed more so when playing at home. India’s prowess or carefree relaxed attitude at home has a lot to do with the quality of umpiring and hence India’s reluctance to use the UDRS. India has never been a consistent team in terms of maintaining their supremacy and has always manipulated things in their favour. I take nothing away from Anil Kumble and his ten wicket haul against Pakistan on that famous tour but any like minded and rationale cricket lover would agree that some of the decisions in that haul were dubious, needless to add given by an Indian umpire. The use of the UDRS would allow team to stand tall and fight on spinning tracks and not be capitulated by the sheer pressure of missing a ball and being given out by an Indian umpire for lack of technology.
Another spell that comes to mind is that of Wasim Akram bowling to Jimmy Adams in the West Indies; a Test Pakistan should have won by all means but in spite of bowling magical inswinging Yorkers which rooted the middle or leg stump, Akram was unsuccessful in taking Pakistan to victory thanks to shoddy umpiring on part of the West Indian umpire. Such match-winning spells or for that matters innings are complimented by fair umpiring, allowing the viewers to enjoy the game of cricket which at times is overtaken by substandard umpiring.
The ICC perhaps ought to review its decision in terms of giving the teams an option to use the UDRS rather make it compulsory to use it. Surely the cost cannot reason enough to eliminate its use for there are enough sponsors willing to contribute given the money involved in cricket nowadays. To say that the experimental period is over and countries are no longer required to use the UDRS system is a bit of a shame. The UDRS being a monumental success at the World Cup and one of the key elements in restoring the one day game and eliminating talks about scrapping the ODI should have at least remained mandatory for the one day part of the game along with T20. Agreed that the UDRS system thrives of a computer based calculation in terms of bounce and the degree and angles applied when using the technology but it suffices to state that every technology has a BETA stage wherein all such short comings are looked into and improved with time.
It’s only fair that the use of UDRS over a period of time will allow the creators to take into consideration the pitch conditions in order to reach a more accurate decision. This coupled with the use of hotspot would be an ideal tool for firstly, the ICC in terms of training quality umpires, raising the bar to ensure only the best adjudicate at the international level and also allow that uncertainty to prevail in the game which we all thrive for like someone once said “its not over till the last ball is bowled”.
writer is a practicing Barrister in the High Courts of Pakistan
of professionalism destroying squash:
For more than a decade, Jahangir Khan was one of the most successful athletes in the world as he rode roughshod over his opponents to become the greatest squash player of all-time. After retiring in 1993, Jahangir shifted his focus to the organization of the game at the world level and served two terms as President of the World Squash Federation (WSF). During his years in the WSF, he witnessed the fall of Pakistan squash as the country suffered one disaster after the other.
“Its actually unbelievable that we have slumped from being the world’s number one nation in squash to the level of minnows,” Jahangir told ‘The News on Sunday’ in an interview.
The squash legend believes that lack of professionalism is the biggest reason behind Pakistanís downfall.
“Pakistan still has great potential in squash. However, the failure of our players during the last decade is only due to the fact that the squash federation is run by unprofessional people on an ad-hoc basis,” said Jahangir, who have won a record ten British Open titles.
“Throughout the world an elected body runs a federation with coherent and synchronised efforts by professionals. Everybody involved in the game have a say in the affairs and the final outcome comes following concerted efforts,” he said.
Jahangir also criticised the fact that squash is being governed by a department — Pakistan Air Force (PAF) — which runs the game on ad-hoc basis.
“Every three years the set-up is changed and subsequently there is no strategic planning and implementation. Moreover, the people who are given the authority to run the sport for the next three years are highly unprofessional,” he said.
Jahangir said that PSF officials should be full-timers and not part-timers because the game of squash needs proper attention.
“The Chief of Air Staff, who becomes the president of the federation and an Air Vice Marshal, who becomes Senior Vice President don’t have the time to give proper attention to the sport. Therefore, full-time officials, who know about the game, must be hired, in order to form an effective management,” he said.
Jahangir said squash is a major sport for and should be treated with importance.
“Squash brought great glory for Pakistan for nearly fifty years unlike other sports. Therefore squash should be dealt with proper respect,” he said.
Jahangir also took a swipe at controversial incidents that have taken place in national squash in recent times and said that it all happened because of unprofessional officials of the federation.
Pakistan Squash Federation (PSF) secretary Irfan Asghar became the first Pakistani squash official to be banned by World Squash Federation (WSF) for one year for bringing the game into ‘disrepute’. Perhaps, it was the first time that WSF banned an official of an affiliated squash federation.
However, the wing commander has now been replaced by another wing commander, Abdul Wahab Marwat, for the next three years by the federation.
“It all happened because of the unprofessional and irresponsible attitude of the former secretary,” Jaahangir said.
Irfan committed several blunders as secretary. He sent the Pakistan junior players’ names for World Team Championship to Paderborn, Germany instead of World Junior Individual Championship to Herentals, Belgium.
“In my eyes it was a great blunder from the secretary as the junior players, who had been training hard for the world event, mostly would never participate in the event as they would pass the age-group needed to participate in the next edition,” he said.
Then came another blunder when the secretary tried to pass the buck to WSF and blamed President of WSF N Ramachandran for plotting against Pakistan because he is an Indian.
Following a probe carried out by the WSF, Irfan was banned for 12 months and was also slapped with a fine.
Pakistan, once a dominant force in squash through the laurels won by champions like Hashim, Jahangir and Jansher Khan, experienced a serious slump in fortunes under Irfan, who accompanied the national team to World Team Championship held in Germany as manager-cum-coach without proper credentials.
Pakistan finished 22nd out of 32 in the World Team championship in Germany in August this year — their worst ever showing in the history of the event.
However, the brunt was endured by the national team players as three of them were banned by the PSF for allegedly underperforming but the secretary escaped with only a warning.
But finally justice was carried out when the WSF took an unusual decision and banned the secretary for one year and imposed a fine of 500 pounds, a move that finally prompted the PSF to axe Irfan and bring in a new secretary.
Jahangir said that the secretary has finally been removed only because of the WSF ban otherwise he would have escaped without any reprimand. “It’s really unprofessional that the PSF decided taking any serious action against its incompetent secretary. I must say that such attitude will only lead Pakistan squash towards disaster.”