Archive for June, 2011
This blog has frequently supported Shahid Afridi for his relatively uncontroversial cricket career, passionate attitude to the game and positive gameplay. Afridi is also an under rated cricketer because his batting is often disproportionately criticised whereas his bowling and fielding are conveniently disregarded. Afridi is also unique in the list of superstars to have played for Pakistan because he has never been accused of match fixing, an act which has caused Pakistan the most disgrace around the world when it comes to cricket.
Inzamam ul Haq left behind future hopefuls like Shoaib Malik, Misbah and K Akmal who are negative players and whose gameplay is so detrimental to the team that they are or have been under the ICC or PCB scanner. Misbah is never directly been accused of match fixing, but he has appeared to single handedly lose Pakistan matches a few times and this raises suspicion in the minds of the fans. A player has to be pretty pathetic for fans to suspect possible match fixing especially when there has been no direct evidence presented against the player. When Shahid Afridi’s bowling improved from 2007 onwards he should have immediately been appointed captain, as he was the only one with the leadership qualities at that time.
Shahid Afridi has transformed into something of a predictable disappointment for his fans. Afridi was the straight talking, principle endorsing character amongst his conspiring, scheming colleagues, but now Afridi has lost much of his credibility. In fact, even though a few thousand people in Karachi received him at the airport upon his return to Pakistan recently, a lot of the cricketers like Imran Khan offered measly support to him. This was an issue that could have united the nation, and the public could have appeared on the streets to protest against Ijaz Butt. Javed A Khan commented that the public in Pakistan is already demoralised because of poverty and lawlessness, and therefore does not have the will to make hue and cry about this cricket issue. However, if Afridi had been more tactful and had stuck to his principles, I am very sure he would have garnered more public support.
As far as I remember, it all started from the IPL, when Afridi expressed his desire to play despite Pakistan being humiliated at an IPL auction. Later, Afridi reportedly changed his statement. However, in the subsequent IPL competition he again expressed his desire to play.
He then decided he would not play Test cricket. The reason why this was shocking was because he has a decent record in Tests and due to the match losing presence of Malik, Misbah and K Akmal, Pakistan desperately needed a positive and attacking player. This was an extremely stupid move by Afridi and received widespread criticism. He claims he does not have the temperament, but in truth he must be afraid of the repercussions if he cannot perform- simply because in Tests, a batsman’s wicket has a much higher price than in limited overs cricket?
In the World Cup Afridi decided to take advice from people like Imran Khan and Wasim Akram. Again this was questionable because, Afridi has his own style and he can never be like Imran Khan. And frankly, why does he ask Wasim Akram things? How can an honest and upright player even consider having this kind of relationship with Wasim Akram? In the past Afridi also took advice from the dull Inzamam- you can see it couldn’t change Afridi’s batting.
Then it was Afridi’s verbal stupidities. He changed the style of speaking English and started using “a” before everything such as “a confidence”. On a Pakistani tv show he blurted that Pakistanis have bigger hearts than Indians which did not go down brilliantly with the Pakistan government because it had just commenced a new chapter in cricket diplomacy with India. And then following his removal as captain by the PCB, he blamed some Punjab/Lahori group for conspiring against him. Whether these statements are true or false, they have done irreversible damage. Afridi has lost most of his fan base in Punjab and as Punjab is Pakistan’s most populous and influential province, it will be difficult for Afridi to firstly come back into the team and be accepted again by his team mates and administration but secondly, to be reinstated as captain.
Afridi spoke about principles upon his return to Pakistan; he claimed that Pakistan cricket was on the road to destruction under this administration. He asked the President to rescue cricket in the country. This was miscalculated by Afridi, as he should have realised that he needed to appeal to the public to create a revolution. However, Afridi has now accepted that what he wanted was to play county cricket in England and the Sri Lanka Premier League.
Only someone like Shahid Afridi could have persuaded the public to come out on the streets and remove Ijaz Butt, but he chose money and short term goals rather than principles. Ijaz Butt is not going any time soon, and what Afridi does not realise is that between now and then, someone new might take his place in the team.
Without Afridi there is no match winner in the team- does he even realise this?
This issue has caused incalculable damage to Pakistan and Pakistan cricket. People will say Afridi “chickened out” and he will quickly lose support from fans. Afridi will say he was under political pressure to accept his mistake, however, a principled man would not have chosen to succumb to politics and money. If Afridi had not complained about Punjab, and if he had not chickened out in this manner, I am sure Ijaz Butt would have been forced to reinstate him as captain after a few months. There is no point in saying here that what Afridi said about Punjab, or India, was right in principle. You can’t pick and choose which principles you want to follow and which you want to abandon. If you think the Indian government, public, media has smaller hearts and holds a grudge against Pakistan, don’t express your desire to play in IPL. Similarly, if you think the PCB management is corrupt or biased, don’t drop to your knees in front of them to satisfy your short term goals.
Because a person who does that becomes a politician, and loses his principles. Afridi was seen by his fans to be the alternative to the politicians in the cricket team, but Afridi seems to have become just like them.
Last Tuesday, the Sindh High Court had ordered the PCB to adjourn a disciplinary committee meeting in which Afridi was due to face, and now summoned the officials to Thursday June 16, 2011 for a hearing. This case should be decided as soon as possible, because the PCB and its cronies lead by none other than the Chairman Ijaz Butt and his not so able lawyer Taffazul Hussain are trying to drag this case as long as possible. They should remember this is Sindh High Court and Afridi has a lot of supporters in Karachi. Although he is a Pathan but, like Younus Khan and Umar Gul he is also residing in Karachi and draws a lot of support from all segments of the society, not only the Pathans and Mohajirs and Sindhis but, the Punjabis living in Karachi also support him and feels that Ijaz Butt is doing severe injustice in penalizing him for nothing.
You cannot punish someone for a crime (which was not even a crime) twice i.e., exactly what Ijaz Butt & Co. are trying to do, dig up his past and trying to prove that he scuffed the pitch and bit the ball in Australia. He was already punished and penalized for that, why dig up that case now? In fact after that he was made Captain of the team for the World Cup and with such mediocre team he led them from the front and brought the team to semifinal, nearly winning it and making it to the final. But, thanks to his faithful foes he is a victim of conspiracy which did not end with one but followed with one after the other.
Afridi’s only crime is he is blunt and being a Pathan he cannot be a “yes man” to the Butt headed Chairman and his cronies such as Alyass who has now been suspended from his post, this is only to show to the people of Pakistan that no one is above the law. Apart from using derogatory language against Afridi, Ilyass was seen sitting next to the banned player Salman Butt on a TV show in which the later was a panelist, is only an act of show biz by Ijaz Butt. In reality Ijaz Butt should also be suspended for participating in the same TV show via a telephone line. It is just as bad as being there. But, he is Abbu Dallah (Above The Law) The only positive thing that happened in that show was Ijaz Butt’s ugly face was not displayed on the TV screen.
Cricket fans and Afridi supporters came to the Sindh High Court Building but, were disappointed because their Hero was not there, one of the supporters said, “We have come here in Afridi’s support and feel that Pakistan cricket is incomplete without him,” It is true, most of his fans relates Afridi’s presence in cricket is just like Muhammad Ali in the boxing ring. I know a lot of people who stopped watching boxing after Muhammad Ali retired from boxing. This may happen to a lot of Afridi’s supporters if he does not play in the future.
Taffazul Rizvi, the PCB lawyer, said the punishment was included in the central contract that Afridi has signed. Whereas, Afridi’s lawyer Syed Ali Zafar contradicted the claim by saying. “The sanctions are not under the central contract and that’s what we have pleaded,” he denied Afridi’s sole aim in going to court was to seek permission to play abroad. Zafar also said, “we are against the disciplinary proceedings, which we have successfully adjourned, and the court has given us the right to claim for monetary losses suffered due to Afridi not being able to play in England.”
The funny thing is about the “Pissy-Leaks” (PCB Leaks) which are more sophisticated than the “Wikileaks”, I don’t understand how come every confidential news gets leaked in Pakistan? Intikhab Alam and Waqar Younus’ confidential tour report leaked before it went to the Chairman’s office. Intikhab Alam at the age of 70 plus who is also in the same league as Ijaz Butt considers himself as the main person instrumental in Pakistan winning the 1992 WC and all those matches after that in which he was the team manager. He is the same person who never won a single series as a captain for Pakistan in any form of the game when he was the Captain of Pakistan team and same is the case with Waqar Younus. But, today both of them have the audacity and cheekiness to place a feather in their own caps by saying they are responsible for the wins. And, the team whenever it lost any match it was due to Afridi’s immaturity?
Waqar Younus’s report should not be considered as fair because, that man has a criminal record. He was banned by Justice Qayyum from not only playing for Pakistan at any level but, also for holding a job at any official capacity because he was accused and charged for match fixing and betting along with Wasim Akram, Salim Malik, Ijaz Ahmad, Ata ur Rahman and Mushtaq Ahmad. Mushtaq, Ijaz and Waqar both got the coaching jobs in the recent past and Waqar is still the main coach. What is the credibility of a convict? Once a convict, the criminal record stays for life. There is no second chance for convicts. That is why Salman Butt, Asif and Aamir should not be allowed to play for Pakistan ever again.
Most importantly Ijaz Butt must be sacked with immediate effect along with his entire paraphernalia. Either they should appoint Javed Miandad as the Chairman of Pakistan Cricket Board or a professional who is qualified and suitable for the job must be appointed. Just like Dr. Nasim Ashraf or Shahriyar Khan. (Doesn’t mean them actually) but, someone of that quality and background, at least they were honest, just and fair unlike this uncouth, uneducated, dis-grunted Ijaz Butt who has all the time brought disgrace to the nation.
There are unconfirmed reports that Ijaz Butt has been sacked.
Zulfiqar Mirza is rumoured to be the new Chairman. Controversial Sindh minister, business partner of Zardari and blamed by MQM for target killings and lawlessness in Karachi.
He is the one who said, “Pakistan khappay” and admitted that he wanted his party to break Pakistan after Benazir’s death.