The Shahid Afridi saga has taken the cricket world by storm. Pakistan cricket is again the laughing stock of the world. Non Pakistanis do not fathom the workings of this board, whereby a captain who did wonders in a World Cup has suffered this treatment. This thread is to explore what might have gone wrong and where?
Shahid Afridi criticised the team management and said that he felt his work was being interfered with. On the face of it, for Pakistani standards this does not seem that offensive a statement. This thread is about the action PCB took as a result of Afridi’s outburst against the team management. What Afridi said thereafter, about Inti Alam, Alyas and the Punjab group, was obviously as a response to his sacking as captain. What else could Ijaz Butt be offended by? Shortly after the WC Afridi criticised Aamer Sohail when Sohail lambasted Afridi’s captaincy. Afridi used strong langauge- could this be a supporting reason, too?
If the remarks people say in retaliation also count in assessing discipline, should Mohammad Ilyas not be punished for using strong language against Afridi? He is a selector and has been fighting for his son in law’s selection for many years.
Ijaz Butt was declared to be buffoon by Malcolm Speed, Geoff Lawson also called him incompetent and once the Indian cricket board also refused to hold any talks with him. The list of Butt’s failures is endless. Pakistan has changed 35 captains since 1992, and most of these changes have occasioned due to personal or political reasons and have little to do with merit. Ijaz Butt’s appointment was once applauded by those who were anti Musharraf and those who favoured the idea of having a cricketer as a Chairman, but now the same
people are vying for an educated and competent administrator instead of this uncouth buffoon. This blog was always opposed to this stupidity of having a cricketer as a Chairman. The PCB is an ocean of incompetence and most of the employees have been recruited for political reasons.
The other angle to the question of incompetence is that, why does the PCB not intervene when trouble is brewing up, and why are their policies only reactive? For example, it was Inti Alam’s responsibility to take Waqar and Afridi into confidence and ensure that there are no problems on either side. What kind of organisation is this that does not attempt to deal with damage limitation?
Punjabi people for obvious reasons reject the arguments of non-Punjabis as regards regionalism in Pakistan. The treatment of Miandad by Imran Khan and PCB admin, treatment of Rashid Latif, then more recently the example of players like Asim Kamal, Fawad Alam, Sohail Khan etc seems to indicate that the Lahore-dominated PCB carries a grudge against other towns and regions. Conversely, players like Imran Farhat, Kamran Akmal, Shoaib Malik, Salman Butt, Misbah, Abdur Rehman etc were repeatedly given chances to cement their positions in the team. Is there a pattern to this or is this non-Punjabi paranoia?
Younis Khan was treated disgracefully when he was at the peak of his game. And lastly, Shahid Afridi has accused the Punjab group for conspiring against him. A few years ago Afridi said something similar, “People who are against me are those who want a captain from Punjab”. Could anyone imagine the PCB insulting Imran Khan, Inzamam, Wasim or Waqar when they were at their peak, just like how the PCB has insulted Afridi and Younis?
So, does regionalism exist in Pakistan?
Dr Mohd Ali Shah is a respected Sindh cricket administrator. He has criticised the PCB for conspiring against Sindh players. This is a serious allegation has it comes from a widely popular administrator. Not very long ago, Dr Kamran Abbasi, the famous cricket writer also commented that the allegations of regional bias against Ijaz Butt are serious and must be noted.
This thread does not intend to accuse Punjab of regionalism one way or the other. But, an independent fact finding comission must investigate the reasons for this treatment suffered by Afridi. There is now enough minority uproar against the majority Punjabis, for the PCB to consider official investigation into why the people of Sindh and KP believe their players are discriminated against. The winner in all this will be Pakistan, not one region or the other.
Similarly, whatever the truth of this sorry saga is- violation of discipline, just poor management, regionalism or even a combination of these three, the loser has only been Pakistan.