Mar 15 - 21, 2010

Pakistan Cricket Board mustered enough courage to finally come heavily down on indiscipline elements in Pakistan cricket which had brought bad name to the country and destroyed the tender fabric of the team on the recent tour of Australia and New Zealand.

Barring the confusion created by electronic media, the decision of the PCB to punish players had been generally welcomed. Majority of test players and general public had welcomed the action. They all agreed that had such kind of action taken years ago, Pakistan cricket would not have experienced the painful pangs it is suffering now.

However the media particularly the electronic media crowded with people who could hardly pay heeds to details suddenly lost its cool and started criticizing the PCB for actions that the electronic media itself was suggesting after the disastrous tour of the down under.

PCB issued a simple worded press release in English announcing the decisions taken by the Board as recommended by an enquiry committee set up by the PCB on popular demand and on the demands of the media and the parliamentarians who can hardly make a difference between a cricket and a football.

The electronic media caught in the web of " breaking news" or in the race of being first to break the latest news totally misinterpreted the simple worded press release and distorted it beyond what it meant by announcing that Muhammad Yousuf and Younus Khan have been banned for life, though there was no mention about the words ban or life in the PCB announcement.

One TV channel took the lead and made the cardinal mistake and almost every one in the business followed suit creating a mess at national and international level just because they could not properly understood what the sentence meant.

Electronic media started crying hoarse minutes after the PCB placed on its website the announcement accepting in to the recommendations of the inquiry committee. The opening recommendation misinterpreted and misread by the electronic media created the confusion.

One sentence paragraphs at the start of the press release read "Mohammed Yousuf and Youns Khan keeping in view their infighting which resulted in bringing down the whole team, their attitude has a trickledown effect which is a bad influence for the whole team should not be part of national team in any format".

No where in the sentence the words ban or life ban was mentioned but the electronic media misinterpreted and announced that the two players had been banned for life. Tickers started crawling on the TV screens and important programmes were disrupted with the breaking news which partly was not there. For hours TV channels repeated the news that the two stalwarts already in the twilight of their playing career had been banned for life from cricket. Even the international media jumped on the bandwagon and the news was splashed cross the globe.

It was total confusion at home and abroad. The PCB had to intervene to clear the confusion when the TV channels refused to clear it. They added words "for indefinite period" at the end of the sentence to the original press release.

The PCB clarification issued within hours of the original one stated "Some media channels have interpreted the first recommendation of the inquiry committee regarding Mohammad Yousuf and Younis Khan as being a life ban on these two players from playing for Pakistan. PCB wishes to clarify that the recommendation of the Committee is not a life ban on these cricketers. There is no specified term in the recommendation for these two players. As and when the PCB deems appropriate, these players will be considered for selection for the national team."

The PCB punished Muhammad Yousuf and Younis Khan but did not impose any financial penalties. Their punishment was that they should not be considered for selection in any format of the game. Brothers Kamran and Umar Akmal and Shahid Afridi were fined sums raging between two to three million each.

The harshest punishment was given to Shoaib Malik and Rana Naveedul Hasan. Both were fined Rs.2 million each and barred from playing for Pakistan for one year.

The PCB by not making specific charges against these players had opened the floodgates for speculation and rumors. It would only vitiate the atmosphere more than clearing it.

The shocking part of the PCB announcement is letting Shahid Afridi off with minimum punishment. He was found biting the ball in Sydney ODI twice on TV cameras. The stalwart of many tests and ODIS knew what he was doing was unpardonable and criminal but he did it two times that meant his intentions were more deeper than just desperation. ICC under its own code of conduct banned Afridi for two ODI.

PCB working under its own code of conduct found Afridi guilty. But the punishment was on the lighter side. It's a known fact that Afridi is a close friend of a builder who was suspected to be found in match fixing in ODI series in Morocco.

There have been cases in the past when PCB had to act to pull out from the roots phenomena of match fixing which had reached the shores of Pakistan during the day when Wasim Akram and Salim Malik became captains. Pakistan's defeat at the hands of Bangladesh in England world cup when Wasim Akram was captain was ample proof that some seniors were involved in fixing results.

Pakistan's former test skipper Salim Malik and medium pacer Ataur Rehman were allegedly found to be involved in match fixing after a long inquiry set up by the PCB.

After the recent Australian tour, the Pakistan Cricket Board taking the usual step as previously done over the years in the past decided to set up an inquiry committee to look into the reasons leading to dismal performance in Australia and other controversies that interrupted on the tour.

The committee consisted of Wasim Bari (Chairman), Wazir Ali Khoja, Yawar Saeed, Zakir Khan and Taffazul Haider Rizvi the legal advisor to the PCB as Members.

The Terms of Reference of the Committee were as follows: "Team discipline during the Tour, Team performance during the Tour, Ball tampering incident involving Shahid Khan Afridi and its possible consequences under the Central Contract, Any other issues arising from the Australia Tour, the Committee shall present its report by the end of February, 2010."

The Committee held marathon sessions on 12th, 13th and 27th February 2010. Following persons were called in for personal appearance by the Committee: Abdul Raqeeb, Manager Pakistan Cricket Team, Muhammad Talha Ejaz Talha, Cricket Analyst, Pakistan Cricket Board, Dr Faisal Hayat, Physio, Pakistan Cricket Team, Shahid Khan Afridi, Member Pakistan Cricket Team, Umar Akmal, Member Pakistan Cricket Team, Kamran Akmal, Member Pakistan Cricket Team, Muhammad Yousuf, Capitan Pakistan Cricket Team, Shoaib Malik, Member Pakistan Cricket Team, Intikhab Alam, Coach Pakistan Cricket Team, Salman Butt, Member Pakistan Cricket Team,Younis Khan, Member Pakistan Cricket Team, Aaqib Javed, Assistant Coach Pakistan Cricket Team, Rana Naveedul Hasan, Member Pakistan Cricket Team.

In addition to personally interviewing officials and players and recording their statements on various issues and subjects the committee was also made available reports of the previous tours. These included (1) Coach Report of Intekhab Alam of - Pakistan tour UAE / New Zealand and Australia 2009-10 (2) Manager Report of Abdul Raquib - Pakistan tour UAE / New Zealand and Australia 2009-10 (3) Report of Bowling Consultant Waqar Younis on Pakistan tour in Australia 2009-10.

The Committee conducted detailed interactive sessions with the persons appearing before it and confronted the officials and the players of Pakistan Cricket Team with the reports submitted to it and other materials available on print, internet and electronic media. The transcripts and team management reports mentioned supra form an integral part of the Committee's report.

After careful and detailed analysis of the events, the personal accounts of the team management and players and examination of record, videos, and statistics, the unanimous recommendations of the Committee were as follows:

1. Mohammed Yousuf and Youns Khan keeping in view their infighting which resulted in bringing down the whole team, their attitude has a trickledown effect which is a bad influence for the whole team should not be part of national team in any format.

2. For the shameful act of Shahid Khan Afridi, which has brought the game and country into disrepute, he be fined Rs3 million. A warning be issued to him by the Chairman PCB and he be put on probation for six months, during which his conduct be strictly monitored.

3. Kamran Akamal be fined Rs3 million. A warning be issued to him by the Chairman PCB and he be put on probation for 06 months, during which his conduct be strictly monitored.

4. Umar Akmal be fined Rs2 million. A warning be issued to him by the Chairman PCB and he be put on probation for six months, during which his conduct be strictly monitored.

5. Rana Naveed ul Hasan and Shoaib Malik be fined Rs2 million. They should not be part of national team in any format for a period of one year.

In the PCB press release it was stated that the recommendations of the inquiry committee have been accepted by the PCB in totality and hoped that the recommendations of the Committee will go a long way to arrest the continuing decline of Pakistani cricket and improve the state of cricket in Pakistan. It is a landmark exercise which is an outcome of labor and hard work of the members of the Committee.

This is first time that the national cricket establishment since its establishment in mid fifties, has taken a bold step to punish a host of indiscipline elements in the national team.

Indiscipline has been the greatest bane of Pakistan since the days of Abdul Hafeez Kardar, the man who established cricket and test cricket after independence in Pakistan and led Pakistan to test victories which Pakistan could never even think of in dreams. Beating England, India and the West Indies on their own soil as newest entrant to Test cricket were achievements meant for cricket record books. It was the personality of Abdul Hafeez Kardar who kept the lid on indiscipline players though some of his team mates had the capacity to be real rogues. But when his grip on the team loosened after his retirement the ugly head of indiscipline reared its ugly face. It was during his tenure in the then board of cricket that the biggest disciplinary action was taken when Pakistan's sizzling cricketer Saeed Ahmed was punished for his insulting behaviour against Kardar in early seventies.

The action taken against the biggest star of Pakistan team was expected to rein in uncontrolled rogue stallions in the group. For sometime test players behaved but things came to a head after the national general elections of 1970 with Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto forming the government in the Western wing of the truncated country after 1971 war.

Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto as a student was an admirer of Abdul Hafeez Kardar and when Kardar visited then Bombay just before the independence, Zulfiqar Bhutto as a student had invited Kardar and other cricketers who later played for Pakistan for tea at the famous Taj Mahal hotel. Abdul Hafeez Kardar during Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto's government as expected headed the then BCCP with full authority. In mid seventies Pakistan cricket was shaken by an unprecedented event that first time brought players power in cricket onto the surface in Pakistan.

A few years before Kerry Packer phenomena which killed the traditional spirit of the one gentleman's sports, a few senior Pakistani cricketers agitated for enhancement of daily allowances and fee for playing tests. It was time just before big money made its appearance in post Kerry Packer era.

Senior players decided to stay away from Pakistan cricket team. Abdul Hafeez Kardar took an action against the agitating players without foreseeing the consequences. He dropped them from the team and picked youngsters for the coming tour of Australia. Suddenly all anti Abdul Hafeez Kardar forces came together and led by the then president of Karachi City Association M.U Haq who was brother in law of Abdul Hafiz Pirzada, the Federal sports minister at that time took a decision not heard before. The BCCP was dissolved, Abdul Hafeez Kadar removed as head of the board, the team and management of the team selected for Australia was rejected.

A new management and a team in which all these senior agitating players were included were announced for the tour. That was the time when players proved their power to make and break the board which has become a fashion with the cricket since then. The board heads remain as head as long as they had the support and good will of the senior players. Much water has flown under the bridge since then and it is hoped that the latest action of the PCB would set a trend for zero tolerance for indiscipline.