FOCUS ON DOMESTIC CRICKET CAN TURN TRAGEDY INTO OPPORTUNITY

ANISUDDIN KHAN
(feedback@pgeconomist.com)

July 16 - 22, 20
12

It was fateful hot and humid morning of early May 2002 in this port city when a car bomb aimed at alleged French submarine engineers exploded in front of a hotel where the New Zealand Cricket team was preparing to leave for the National stadium to play the third test against host Pakistan. The explosion which ripped the stillness of the calm morning took several lives and created panic amongst the Kiwi cricketers who were in the lobby of the five star PC Intercontinental preparing to board the bus for the stadium.

Though this was the first time that a foreign visiting cricket team has experienced the gruesome tragedy .For them it was a new experience but they knew that the bomb was not aimed at them. At a media conference held in chaotic manner at the hotel the security officer of the New Zealand team was bold and frank enough to admit that the bomb was aimed at his team. The visiting team members were upset but were not at all scared about their safety.

It was PCB which was in a state of intense panic and got so upset that they ordered its staff at Karachi to fly the Kiwis to nearby Dubai by first available flight. The Chairman of the then PCB Gen. Tauqir Zia should have behaved in a bolder military fashion and persuaded his counter parts sitting thousands of mile away in Auckland that their team was safe and would play the third test instead of hustling them into an air craft to Dubai.

A brigadier who was in charge of the PCB affairs at Karachi knew that the action of the PCB boss was not suitable because it would hurt the game in Pakistan on a long term but as a disciplined officer he carried out orders and the Kiwis were safely placed on a plane that took them to the safety of UAE.

That was the beginning of a great tragedy for Pakistan team. It was self made and elf inflicted wound that saw Pakistan home series going off shore. A bolder stand of the PCB chief could have avoided the tragedy which befall on Pakistan cricket in the aftermath of bomb attack on the French Engineers. There is no point in ruing over a chance lost as the damage has been done.

Pakistan should take a leaf out of South African cricket which suffered due to its own policy of apartheid when South African cricket was made pariah because of the policies of their government the cricket administrators put their heads together and evolved the strategy to rescue tradition of their cricket. They felt that instead of sitting with hands folded complaining about the mistreatment they should use the time of suspension from cricket to concentrate on domestic cricket and make it more strong and keep the talent growing.

Pakistan had the chance to take the decision, General Tauqir Zia should have boldly told international cricket community that Pakistan will play its home series at home instead of on off shore venues. Sri Lanka and even England which have faced acts of terror in the past never went for the option to play homes series on away venues. They said it is home cricket or no cricket. PCB could have taken a bolder stand if there was democratic set up in the form of the general body which certainly would have vetoed general Tauqir Zia decision to shift home series in other countries. As the PCB was being run on ad hocism, the arbitrariness of one individual prevailed. When Zaka Ashraf took over the administration of the PCB he should have changed the policy and announced staying at home. But once again in the absence of a general council of the PCB due to ad hocism the old policy was continued. Before ad hocism came to Pakistan cricket in late 1999 with the appointment of Mujib ur Rehman, the Pakistani domestic cricket was one of the best in the world. English cricket administrators were so impressed by Pakistani system that they adopted it.

The PCB of Zaka Ashraf is showing signs of weaknesses. Surprisingly under public pressure, it was trying to rehabilitate three Pakistanis found guilty of spot fixing whereas the board should have told the players and the public that the PCB would not touch them even with a barge pole until the ICC had taken any decision. The three players Salman Butt, Muhammad Asif and Muhammad Aamer were jailed for corrupt practices in a test match at Lords against England. They did not deserve mercy because they were proved cheats by an English court. Recently there was case of Danish Kaneria in a domestic match when he bowled only two balls and left the field raising speculation that the player had done something fishy. The KCCA for which Kaneria was palying did no punish the players who was later banned by English Cricket Board for life for his role as go between spot fixers and the players.

The PCB should have taken up Danish Kaneria case with the KCCA but the board officials had no time to pay attention to what is happening at home.

There is so much chaos in the PCB that it had announced that no clubs or private sponsors could organize limited overs matches without the no objection certificate from the PCB. It is learnt that the PCB took this desperate measure after the ICC may be officially informed the PCB that reports of spot fixing have been reported in night T20 matches played in the DHA neighborhood. Instead of investigating, the PCB issued the policy statement of issuing NOC to clubs and individuals interested in hosting T20 matches. It issued an official paper in which it has asked the intending organizers to submit an affidavit along with a long list of information for getting the NOC.

The PCB which is there to promote the game had tried to curb the game through its new NOC policy. In the meantime the PCB has named thirty players for the ICC world Twenty20 cup which will be played in Sri Lanka in September. The third players are:

Opener Batsman: Muhammad Hafeez, Ahmed Shahzad, Khalid Latif, Nasir Jamshaid, Imran Nazir, Shahzaib Hasan, Awais Zia,Sharjeel Khan

Middle-Order Batsman: Umar Akmal, Asad Shafiq, Haris Sohail, Shoaib Malik, Rameez Raja

All Rounder: Shahid Khan Afridi, Hammad Azam, Abdul Razzaq.

Fast Bowler: Umar Gul, Mohammad Sami, Sohail Tanvir, Yasir Arafat, Wahab Riaz, Junaid Khan, Aizaz Cheema, Anwar Ali.

Spinners: Saeed Ajmal, Abdul Rehman, Raza Hasan

Wicket-Keeper: Sarfraz Ahmed, Kamran Akmal, Shakeel Ansar