KHALID BUTT, Bureau Chief, Lahore
Nov 06 - 12, 2006

Over the years Pakistan cricket has been undergoing ups and downs as like any other cricketing nation. Aussies currently on top were down in the dumps and were whitewashed by Pakistan not long ago and the same goes for once mighty West Indians who after years in the wilderness are now staging a comeback. What about Pakistan? It too has a history of reaching dizzying heights and slumping to embarrassing levels.

But one has to focus on its past seven years ever since it came under the ad-hoc arrangements thanks to the unique system prevailing here. Instead of a duly elected body the cricket is being run under the whims of a system in which patron nominates a person to govern the game affairs. With PCB bestowed with kind of riches due to the tons of money from the huge cash flow from satellite and sponsorship deals this one-man show arrangement to handle such fortunes is bane of the problems. A succession of questionable incumbents has come and gone in seven years, none was apparently equal to the task. But the last incumbent who came from a family of once princely state of raj treated PCB as it was back to the old princely days. In three years the results of this continued mismanagement and lack of accountability are all before us.

Let us quickly roll back to past few years. Starting from some highly debatable nominations based more on personal whims and cronyism or flawed judgment we saw a new chairman imposed days before an important Indian tour. The result of this unwise and untimely decision was before us. The princely choice lost little time in imposing a regime of cronyism. In other words he let down the trust of a highly well meaning patron in this gentleman of high birth and pedigree. One thought it was only a temporary arrangement and a more suitable person and desirable system would be forthcoming. After three years of bluff and bluster by this diplomat turned cricket boss saw stranger things happening, finally resulting in Oval fiasco and many other scams over which lid is now lifting. The timing of management change in PCB on the eve of ICC Champions Trophy had some similarities to the earlier change, as it was an inopportune moment. That the entire system of cricket and the working of PCB was in a state of stinking mess and needed a broom to sweep the garbage, which was quite visible.

PCB is full of problems and sooner these are tackled the better it would be. It needs house cleaning and all non-deserving and 'sifarishis' should be shown the door. The must important aspect is to concentrate on the cricketing matters. Pakistan team has clearly shown some technical weaknesses, which need to be quickly tackled. The tendency of some batsmen noticed lately to run away from rising deliveries and other weak points need urgent attention. One wonders what is the highest paid coach doing to combat such problems? The way Indians contrived to get rid of archrivals from the competition providing them with a green top in two successive games was another thing to note and ponder.

This is high time for PCB to realize its responsibility and bring sanity and cricketing sense within its corridors. The era of intrigue, bluff and bluster must be replaced with hard cricketing decisions and a regime living up to fine values of games and the high expectations of our cricketing public. All eyes are focussed on the new chairman to come up with concrete steps to rid PCB of its erratic functioning and bring the necessary reforms. So far he is credited with saying the right things and making his noble intentions quite clear. But going by the past history the former incumbent too did it on arrival without ever living up to any of his pronouncements. So, mere rhetoric simply does not pay. The transparency must be visible for all to see and so should merit of all his actions including the string of appointments he is now making.

Another word of advice would be that unlike his predecessor he should act more and speak less, let his actions speak and also he should let his professional team be more functional. The key lies therein and the chairman should only speak only when absolutely necessary, as is the case with a board chairman the world over.