Cricket in doldrums

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A narrow win against Zimbabwe on March 1, 2015 in the World Cup fixture ostensibly came as a breather amidst utter disappointment and gloom, which had gripped our cricket team. Pakistan managed to secure a 20 run win over Zimbabwe that stand nowhere in the World Cup rankings. By the time the March issue of Centreline reaches you, Pakistan might have played against UAE, South Afrida and Ireland. UAE especially are considered cricket minnows nevertheless, they have the potential to turn the tables at any time. Ireland of course is a tough side and the way Pakistan has played in this World Cup so far, victory against Ireland appears to be an uphill task.

Leaving performance of the cricket team aside, the moot point that needs to be debated and pondered over is the prevailing situation at Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) that virtually appears to be in a shambles ever since it has been handed over to Najam Sethi. There is no second opinion that Sethi enjoys impeccable reputation as an analyst who is undoubtedly very well informed and connected, but has no experience of running bodies such as PCB. Najam Sethi’s decision to accept PCB Chairman slot came as a surprise for me because this portfolio by no means commensurate to Sethi’s temperament. And especially when Najam Sethi announced that he will not enjoy any perks and privileges as PCB Chairman. It is difficult to digest that why must he expose himself to endless scathing criticism and media bashing when he is not getting anything at the end of the day? But of course there is more to it than meets the eye. PCB chairmanship is indeed a coveted slot that carries with it massive benefits and global exposure. Since cricket is a popular game in Pakistan, therefore, the players and PCB Chairman always remain in focus of media and people at large.

The incumbent PCB Chairman Sheharyar Khan is now responsible for running the board but even his appointment has not made any difference. Cricket and cricket team continue to slide towards a precipice. Khan appears to be not in good health either to handle the thorny affairs of the cricket board. Rifts among players are yet another factor, contributing greatly towards declining performance of our cricket team. Shahid Afridi and Misba ul Haq, as we all know have been lobbying for the captaincy, and one is not ready to play under the other. When it comes to grouping, Afridi and Misbah are not the only ones who are at daggers drawn with each other, in fact this animosity has caused friction among other players as well as a result our team stands disjointed and fragmented. Now, there is nobody around who could ask these guys to behave and  mend fences, at least, during the world cup fixtures for the bad performance of the team is not only affecting the team itself but demoralizing the whole nation also.

Politics, unfortunately, has penetrated deep into almost all sports disciplines especially cricket and hockey. When it comes to degradation of sports in Pakistan, hockey is no exception either. Being the national game of Pakistan, hockey should have been promoted at the grassroots level but ironically it has been treated as a waif commodity. Isn’t it a shame for all of us that our hockey team cannot participate in international events simply for want of funds!! The hockey players and management are seen making frantic efforts to convince philanthropists and well-to-do people to come to their rescue. They did get some consolation but not quite enough to set things in order.

It is difficult to expect that things at the cricket board and hockey federation will improve until and unless both these bodies are purged of politics and corruption. Prime Minister happens to be the Patron of both these bodies, which is quite surprising given the fact that he has many other fish to fry being the head of the government. We would not like to contest this issue, but is it not appropriate that as a Patron he must now play a more constructive and potent role for improving the affairs of hockey and cricket? Frankly, I am not very optimistic that any major action will be taken against the Pakistan cricket team or PCB officials nor any heads would roll for the lackluster performance because we do not have any such history nor do we have a system in place that can hold people accountable. Regretfully, the matter will subside after some media bashing and public criticism.