Sep 27 - Oct 3, 2010

Pakistan Cricket Board has the mandate to promote cricket at home and at international level. But during the past two and half years, the PCB headed by former test wicket keeper batsman Ijaz Butt has done every thing but promote the game. Due to schizophrenic policies pursued by one man PCB Pakistan which once contributed the most to world cricket has become laughing stock at world level.

Who could challenge the lead Pakistan gave when it took the courageous initiative to bring the World Cup out of England. When the president of the then BCCP Air Marshal Nur Khan and his able secretary Arif Ali Khan Abbasi put the proposal to host the 1887 world cup in south Asia the white nations of International Cricket Council almost mocked at the bid.

Some of those attending the meeting held at the Lords even sarcastically asked the Pakistan cricket administrators did they the have money to bid for the prestigious event.

India played a secondary role in the bid and allowed Pakistan to take the lead. An astute sports organiser as he was Nur Khan advised India to come along and share the hosting rights. India also provided the main sponsorship money. Ambani's got it for nothing and Pakistan along with India successfully hosted the world cup dismissing the notion that the cup could only be organised in England.

Once out of England the world cup has gone worldwide. Even the West Indies cricket Board who could not even dream of hosting the competition successfully organised the championship.

England who once had supported the idea that whoever paid the biggest bid would get the cup suddenly felt that if the idea was made a rule then every world cup would be held in the subcontinent.

Scared by the prospect of losing the cup for ever, England and its supporters Australia and New Zealand came up with the idea of Rota system in which each area and country could hold it in rotation.

Once accepted, the idea opened the gates for Australia/New Zealand, South Africa and for the subcontinent which will host its third world cup coming year. It happened only because the leadership in Pakistan cricket had people of vision and diplomacy.

However, after the advent of second Nawaz Sharif government the PCB fell into the deep hole of ad hocism about eleven years ago. A non-entity Mujeeeb ur Rehman brother of powerful Senator Saif ur Rehman, a minister in then Nawaz Sharif government, was made the chairman of the PCB by then President Rafiq Tarar.

The appointment started musical chair and one after other people were appointed as head of the PCB. Every successive head of the PCB only succeeded in sinking once respected Pakistan cricket into deep quagmire.

And when the third PPP lead government came Ijaz Butt got the baton to run the PCB. The result is before every one. Pakistan cricket has suffered immense harm since the former wicket keeper batsman held the reins of PCB administration. A terrorist attack on Sri Lankan team at the Liberty Market roundabout in Lahore totally shut the doors of international cricket on Pakistan. Offshore and neutral venue, an idea initiated by general Tauqir Zia to organise home test series away from Pakistan, has only further damaged the reputation of Pakistan cricket. Pakistan cricket team has been nicked named as stateless team or wandering team.

The total mismanagement that started eleven years ago due to ad hocism reached its height when Pakistan went on a four month away tours of Sri Lanka for Asia Cup, a home series against Australia in England and an away series against host England. However, it all started before that when a weak manager Abdul Raquib was appointed for an away tour of New Zealand and Australia where the Pakistani team was whitewashed by a strong Australian team under Ricky Ponting.

There was total chaos in down under and when the team returned home beaten and battered the PCB took yet another decision to punish players for insubordination and indiscipline. Instead of pursuing a fair and a transparent path to investigate into the debacle the PCB became secretive and one sided punishing a whole lot of players for indiscipline.

And when four months later the PCB was confronted with the selection of teams for Asia Cup and England series, it had no option but to recall all those who were punished for indiscipline on disastrous tour of Australia.

This decision had catastrophic impact on Pakistan cricket. A player like Shahid Afridi who had already declined to lead Pakistan in test cricket was given reins of captaincy for the English tour. It was a decision that spelt disaster from day one and when Afridi just walked out of test and refused to lead Pakistan in four test series against England hell broke loose on Pakistan cricket. Afridi's behaviour on Australian tour was against the sprit of the game and against the interest of Pakistan cricket.

His ball biting incident was enough hint for the PCB to discard the all rounder. All indication during the English series were available that disaster was slowly moving towards Pakistan team. But the management was too weak and somewhat incompetent to check the impending disaster which finally struck Pakistan team in the shape of "spot fixing" allegation against seven players. ICC took the notice of all the raging controversy and took action against skipper Salman Butt, Muhammad Asif and Muhammad Aamer who intentionally allegedly bowled no ball for money. Some of the marked currency used in bribing was also found in possession of the players alleged for taking money.

An England educated Yawar Saeed who managed the team on England tour was fully aware of the sensationalism of the tabloid press in England which has even not spared the Queen or the Royal family.

The English tabloid led by News Of The World followed by Daily Mail and the Sun pounced upon the opportunity to defame Pakistan cricket as the management and the PCB failed to safeguard the interest of Pakistan and the players.

It is easier to hide behind the "conspiracy theory" but it is a fact that Pakistani team, players and the PCB all fell into the trap. They were caught off guard. They knew that the English tabloid press with the backing of the betting mafia were after Pakistan team.

Pakistani players under Shahid Afridi were not caught unawares but they provided the opportunity to the media to catch them red handed. No team ever-visiting England has suffered so much insult and ignominy that Pakistan suffered only because of the weak management and a weaker PCB.

Even Pakistani team felt that they were being intentionally implicated and targeted. Instead of improving their behavior and maintaining strict discipline, the Pakistani players threw the caution to the wind and became a potshot for the English media which never spare any one for one good sensational story. Tabloids thrive on controversies and sensationalism.

Now when Pakistan team has returned home, the fury and fire in media will die down with passage of time. People will soon forget what had happened in England. The players would go unpunished and the "business would be as usual".

The only option before the country is to democratise the PCB and withdraw the right of the president of the country to nominate the head of the PCB. Once it is done discipline will rule and the players would not be above the law.

The international community is already demanding the head of Pakistan cricket. There have been calls in some quarters for banning Pakistan from all forms of international cricket until the mess is cleared.

Though these suggestion would not find favour with other test playing countries but some countries could act alone and refuse to host or play against Pakistan to save their honour. This may happen if immediate measures were not taken immediately.

With next world cup just few months away, a new democratic PCB should be brought in place of an ad hoc PCB. The old constitution should be revived and every thing would fall in its right place. Otherwise, Pakistan's reputation as a corrupt cricket team would gain strength amongst other cricket playing countries.

Only a democratic setup to run the PCB is the answer for the Pakistan cricket. England's Ian Botham had asked Pakistan to be banned from international cricket until corruption allegations against their cricketers have been fully investigated.

Though Pakistan's Imran Khan who once won a legal case against the English all rounder many years ago opposes the idea but who knows that the idea floated by Botham may be implemented if things are not improved and perception of Pakistan team is not changed.