Pakistan cricket never stops surprising. Just when one thought Ijaz Butt is on the verge of being sacked and things can only get better, PCB announced Pakistan’s squad for the forthcoming series in UAE.
Is corruption, nepotism and incompetence so deeply entrenched in the PCB psyche, that Pakistan cricket is at a point of no return? Misbah ul Haq has made a return to international cricket. For the past two years Misbah’s performance has been so pathetic, that everyone had considered his career to be over. Misbah is 36 years of age officially, which means he might be 38 in real life. What was the point of making him captain? What has he done to deserve this honour? His age, respect in the team, performance- nothing warranted this drastic action to be taken. Unfortunately fans will reintroduce allegations of nepotism, favouritism, corruption and regionalism due to this decision by the PCB. Nowhere else in world cricket would you have seen such an old player, dropped due to poor performance, being brought back in such fashion. It is accepted that senior players Afridi, Younis, Butt and K Akmal were unavailable for whatever reason, however the most sensible decision considering the circumstances would have been to appoint Yousuf as captain. Yousuf at least has respect in the team and an illustrious career record behind him. This is in no way to promote Yousuf has a captain because ideally someone like Yousuf should not captain the team, but he was the best choice from available candidates which included Umar Gul, Saeed Ajmal and Umar Akmal.
The reason why ideal choices were not available for selection is due to the PCB’s competence to
some extent. Afridi was dropped early on in his career after some decent Test performances and since then he has never been able to adjust to Test cricket. Younis Khan has differences with the management- on what grounds they are, has never been revealed. Salman Butt is suspended due to alleged involvement in match fixing whereas K Akmal is apparently having surgery. Insiders have reportedly commented that Akmal has been sidelined because the PCB suspects him of match fixing and hence they want to investigate this and not risk playing him.
What happened in the controversial tours of Australia and New Zealand remains shrouded in mystery. Why has the PCB not revealed details of its investigations? By hiding details from the masses, is PCB not doing a disservice to cricket in Pakistan? Why it is that after so many months the fans still do not know on what grounds Rana, Younis, Yousuf, Afridi, Malik etc were banned or fined? What public interest could this possibly serve?
A controversial character, Intikhab Alam, has also been reintroduced into the set up as the Team Manager. Inti is also no stranger to
controversy, like his predecessor Yawar Saeed. Why the same controversial characters keep reappearing in the PCB has to be investigated. The only explanation that comes to mind is that there is a presence of foul play, details of which are only privy to select individuals who keep getting reappointed. An independent bench must conduct an inquiry into this as soon as possible.
Ijaz Butt does not understanding the meaning of public service and accountability. This is observed not just from his stupid decisions, but also from his undermining of the Sports Committee of Pakistani Parliament. The public of Pakistan wants to see the return of Younis
Khan, yet due to differences with Butt and senior PCB management
Younis’ career looks bleak. Rumours are that Younis is contemplating moving to England so he can play county cricket, thus following footsteps of former players like Azhar Mahmood and Mohammad Akram. It is also believed that being an emotional person, Younis has taken this insult to the heart and is internally, a broken man. Speaking of insults, Fawad Alam has once again been overlooked from the Test team. Fawad plays on merit and his domicile is not Punjab, which is why he only seems to be selected when Afridi or Younis Khan facilitate his selection. Fawad Alam is a living, breathing example of the problems that Pakistan as a nation is suffering. After a reasonably good performance in international cricket so far, players like Misbah and Farhat are still preferred over Fawad. This is the problem with Pakistan.
We do not know why Rana Naved was banned, but what we do now know is that he ban has been lifted. Only in Pakistan can such extreme measures be taken without the responsible people giving explanations. That is because, there is no shame in these people and there is no sense of accountability. In any event, Rana Naved, who most believe to be a useless player, is back and available for selection.
After the departure of Nasim Ashraf, many people believed Pakistan cricket could be rescued. However, under Ijaz Butt’s tenure, incidents of unfair selection, nepotism, tour controversies, stupid decisions etc have garnered a gloss of comedy. That is because Ijaz Butt himself is a comedian. So much for an ex-cricketer being appointed because of a “democratic system”. The damage to Pakistan cricket under Butt is incalculable.
The situation is so deplorable, that talk of changing systems, processes, politicians seems ineffectual. Even the idea of some revolution seems minuscule considering the magnitude of stupidity that has wrecked Pakistan cricket under Ijaz Butt. This system needs something greater than a mere revolution. It needs a messiah.