The news that the ICC has banned the three Pakistan cricketers – Salman Butt, Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Amir – for 10, 7 and 5 years respectively comes mostly as no surprise. The ICC had made its views on the issue quite clear if a guilty verdict was reached and the point needs to be made again that the ICC’s proceedings, although participated in by various people with legal qualifications and experience, are not those of a Court of Law. If the tribunal finds that the ICC’s rules have been broken then they have the right to impose whatever sanction they see fit within their published rules.
Faraz Sawat’s opinion piece in Cricinfo makes a very good case for the removal of Ijaz Butt from his position as Chairman of the Pakistan Cricket Board. Regular readers will already know my feelings about Mr Insensitive, a man for whom firing cannot come soon enough.
Faraz gives us a brief history of PCB chairmen. None of the last three chair holders have covered themselves in glory and their foul ups are mentioned. Shahryar Khan is rightly criticised for his performance in the Ovalgate fiasco where, if memory serves, he preferred to sound off on the radio rather than be where a leader should have been, in the Pakistan dressing room sorting out the issues.
Back to Mr Insensitive.
As bad as all of this was, any of Zia, Shahryar and Ashraf are preferable to the utter ineptitude of Ijaz Butt.
If I’ve noticed and written about it, surely others closer to Pakistan cricket and its power bases have too? Yet Butt somehow remains in post despite being clearly and demonstrably unfit for purpose.
Mere days in the job and it was clear that Butt was opinionated, unfair and indiscreet.
See my previous point. We’re not talking about rocket science here, we’re talking about the basic good sense and good standards one would expect at the very least from a leader.
While Butt did well in principle to get former players involved, his choices have ranged from questionable to downright wrong….
Butt has fallen out with Javed Mianadad (sic) and Aamer Sohail. While both were always committed cricketers and no one doubts their sincerity towards Pakistan cricket, they are also known for their volatile personalities. Appointing them to any post was always going to be risky.
Javed Miandad must surely be one of the most abrasive, inflammatory cricketers there has been.
Then of course…
The lowest point of Butt’s brief reign has been his handling of the aftermath of the attack on the Sri Lankans in Lahore.
The least the chairman could have done was call a press conference immediately, express condolences for the victims and clarify the PCB’s sphere of responsibility. Instead, Butt alternated between being bullish, defensive and occasionally outrageous, as when he called for a life ban on the match referee, Chris Broad, for speaking about what he perceived as inadequate security.
Faraz’s comments about ICL players turning their back on their countries smacks of those who said similar things in the World Series Cricket days. The fact is that the ICL came before anyone else had put a Twenty20 league together and only the BCCI’s bullying tactics forced the ICC and national boards to ban players. Quite wrongly in my view and I will forever hold Justin Vaughan of New Zealand Cricket in very low esteem for being the BCCI’s puppet.
I do agree with the majority of Faraz’s piece, particularly the last line:
So low has the PCB fallen that almost anyone would be better than Ijaz Butt.
I still smile warmly when I think of Pakistan’s victories in the semi final and final of the World Twenty20. As should everyone. I’ve said before that world cricket needs a strong Pakistan side. Their strength and talent should never be doubted, it is their consistency that has been lacking. Add consistency to their undoubted talent and you have a team ready to worry and perhaps beat the best in the world on a regular basis.
Osman Samiuddin’s piece in Cricinfo celebrates the Pakistan team’s gift to the nation. As usual there is some excellent stuff there which sheds extra light on things for we Westerners. Younus Khan comes in for deserved praise and is compared to Inzamam-ul-Haq for his dignity. Such comparisons are wrong. Younus Khan is better than Inzamam because Younus hasn’t had a moment of madness like the one Inzamam had at the Oval.
You know, the one where he and his team refused to take the field. Yes, Younus was a part of that team and we may never know exactly what transpired in that dressing room to result in the mess that happened.
I’m willing to bet that if circumstances like those in that test match do arise again, Younus would have the dignity and awareness to act with the grace and sense which had left the senses of many on that day in 2006. A fine player to watch, a fine captain and above all he comes across as an excellent human being.
Remember, this victory comes despite the efforts of the PCB to alienate themselves from everyone else in the world cricket community. The match referee for the final was Chris Broad, the former England opener who Ijaz Butt had raved about deserving to be banned.
Did we hear anything from Mr Insensitive then? No.
Wouldn’t it be a joy to see Pakistan at the top of the ICC test cricket rankings?
England will host two test matches and two Twenty20 games between Pakistan and Australia. This is great news and I hope that Headingley and Edgbaston are awarded those games. If you haven’t been in a city where Pakistan are playing then you cannot know what kind of an atmosphere there is. The mercurial side against the mean machine – to watch those games as a neutral (well, neutral-ish) would be a delight.
Congratulations to Pakistan for winning the mens’ World Twenty20 competition and to England for winning the womens’ World Twenty20 competition.
Pakistan’s heartwarming triumph comes despite the stupidity, insensitivity and general antics of the Pakistan Cricket Board, who are probably the most unfit for purpose of the national cricket boards. Given how bad some of them are that really is an indictment of the PCB.
So let’s push Mr Insensitive, Ijaz Butt, out of the way and celebrate the mercurial Pakistan team. I’ve always had a lot of time for Younus Khan as a player. As a captain he’s managed to do what only Imran Khan did for Pakistan cricket and mould a team which won a major prize. He has given Shahid Afridi back his confidence. Afridi’s man of the match performances in the semi final and final show a cricketer who has matured. He is a livewire, a match winner and cricket is the better for his presence. Note also that no Pakistan player played in the recent IPL. Does that tell us something?
Never doubt the talent that Pakistan has available. Quite why Pakistan can produce 17 and 19 year old international cricketers who are ready for that level of cricket and England can’t I don’t know. It’s a joy to watch. Just think what Pakistan cricket could achieve if they had a sensible, well constructed administration overseeing the game. Again we’ve seen excellent support for Pakistan, India and Bangladesh here. If Pakistan isn’t to host home test matches, why not bring host them here in England?
There’s not much you can say that’s suitable for public airing when your employers announce to the world that you’ve got the clap*
Which is basically what the beleagured Pakistan Cricket Board did to Shoaib Akhtar when they announced his removal from the Pakistan squad for the upcoming World Twenty20.
Now once the schoolboy joking and giggling is out of the way, this is another example of being unfit for purpose. And I’m not talking about Shoaib. There are any number of polite euphemisims that could and should have been used which do not say “He’s got the clap!”. It isn’t difficult. It isn’t rocket science.
Shoaib may not have too long left in his cricket career. Whatever his previous misdemeanours, an announcement such as this one from the PCB is unwarranted and undeserved. There is supposed to be a bond of trust between employer and employee. The employer is the one who’s driven a coach and horses through that bond on this occasion.
Kamran Abbasi knows a thing or two about medical disclosures. His day job is as editor of the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine and chief executive and editor-in-chief of OnMedica.com. He is also the author of the excellent Pak Spin blog which seeks to demystify the sometimes bizarre workings of Pakistan cricket. Naturally Kamran has a few thoughts of his own on this issue. As ever, they’re well worth reading.
* “clap” is colloquial slang for sexually transmitted infection