June 30, 2011
“Cricket’s governing body banned countries from appointing political figures to national cricket boards, vowing to free the sport from undue government influence. ICC has given 2 years to entire cricket playing nations to implement this. Teams can be banned from playing international cricket otherwise.
The whole cricketing world except Pakistan has appreciated the idea as same ideology is being followed by FIFA. Pakistan has somehow opposed the idea and decided to take a legal action against the decision.”
October 11, 2011
“President of Pakistan has appointed Mr. Zaka Ashraf as chairman PCB after Ijaz Butt’s departure. Supporters appreciated the decision and hoped that the decision will revive Pakistani cricket. Zaka Ashraf said that he will bring cricket back to Pakistan and decision will be taken on merit.”
These are not two different news but these are two different ways of handling things at highest level. The first one is based on an effective system and encourages having strong systems which does not revolve around the personalities. And every system holds people accountable if they do not perform well. However the second news depicts the story of a place that does not favor developing systems but insists to rely on people. And it simply ruins merit if a position like “chairman PCB” is given to an old friend just to acknowledge his services.
The newly appointed chairman is not the first person who is given PCB as a gift by his class fellow but history of PCB says it all. Gen. Zahid Ali Akbar, Justice Naseem Hassan Shah, Mujeeb ur Rehman, Gen. Tauqeer Zia, Dr. Nasim Ashraf, Ijaz Butt and Zaka Ashraf have only one thing in common. And the only visible quality is their close relationship with the rulers. From Zia to Zardari, every ruler imposed chairman at PCB by violating its constitution. The rulers were able to do this because Pakistan is the only country whose president is Chief Patron of cricket and has right to appoint the chairman of PCB.
Someone should have guided Mr. President about the recent decision of ICC and that ICC has given fair time of 2 years to the cricket boards to follow its instructions. Someone should have guided Mr. President instead of giving him false suggestions of obliging his friends which will eventually close the doors of international cricket at Pakistan.
Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Pakistan have got ample time to develop plans to save their cricket by avoiding political influence. They had a reason to do that now and same should have been communicated to Mr. President. Officials of PCB could present ICC’s instructions to the governments to achieve their goals as they have no other option for saving their cricket.
ICC has even asked the boards to develop (if they do not have) and implement their constitutions to improve their internal structures. They should hold free elections to operate independently. They should introduce a system of accountability for every position without having any fear of political influence. Pakistan could also do the same and the target could comfortably be achieved as Ijaz Butt’s controversial tenure has come to an end on 8th October. But Pakistan has, unfortunately, lost the opportunity by “appointing” another “friend”, although the tenure of “former” friend was a nightmare for Pakistan Cricket. His contribution as chairman PCB can tell the story of how the issues will be handled in future.
Old friend’s (Ijaz Butt) contribution to Pakistan Cricket
Ijaz Butt has a history of mishandling cases. His tenure will be remembered as few of the worst years of Pakistan cricket. Glimpses of his career are given below;
- He did not follow Spot Fixing Case properly which embarrassed Pakistan everywhere
- He did not bother to negotiate with Pakistan government and ICC to bring cricket back to Pakistan after Lahore attacks
- He appointed and removed 9 captains and 6 coaches and 4 chairmen selection committee in 3 years because they were not enjoying pleasant relationship with the chairman
- He obliged his personal friends like Yawar Saeed, Intikhab Alam and Mohsin Khan by giving important responsibilities to them and did not appoint those who really deserved
- He played with superstars’ careers. Afridi, Yousuf and Younis are the major victims
- Accountability was the most important part which remained untouched in his career as he was never held accountable for any of his deeds. Even Chief Patron smiled when one of the burning issues were highlighted to him
- He never made any policy to take cricket back to Pakistan or to take Pakistan back to cricket
It is not about Ijaz Butt only; it is about developing a system of one of the strongest financial muscle of Pakistan. Anyone who is not elected according to the constitution of PCB and is appointed by the Chief Patron will never be able to serve the country properly. Appointed people do not have fear of accountability therefore they cannot take steps in national interest. However, recent politically influenced appointment may take Pakistan cricket to the point of no return as ICC has announced that politically influenced boards may face sanctions after June 2013. And Zaka’s appointment could be the last nail to Pakistan Cricket’s coffin as rest of the job is already done by his successor.