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April 13, 2007

Politics

Younis Khan, a committee, and a circus

Kamran Abbasi
Younis Khan pushes through the crowd on arrival in Karachi airport, March 26, 2007
 © AFP
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Pakistan's cricketers must be quite confused. One minute they are appearing before a parliamentary committee, the next it's one set up by the PCB for reasons of "performance evaluation." In between there are ad-hoc committees on television, where the multiplication of channels has spawned an orgy of pontification and inquisition about the malign state of affairs in Pakistan cricket. Oh yes, and let's not forget the burning effigies.

In the wake of all this angst Younis Khan has declined the captaincy. Nothing predicts behaviour like behaviour, as any good psychiatrist will tell you, and Younis has already shown his reluctance to take on the captaincy unless he is perfectly happy. I wonder how somebody could refuse the leadership of his country at a moment such as this? When Younis turned it down before the Champions Trophy I received an email from Bob Woolmer that described how baffled he was by Younis's behaviour. And Bob always supported Younis.

I think Younis should have taken the job if it was offered to him. As Imran Khan said, why become vice-captain in the first place? But whatever the true reasons behind this decision at least he had the good sense to clear the air and the battle between the rest can begin. What I can say with certainty is that this isn't a problem that will be resolved by the performance evaluation committee.

Many of us have been through this movie before. When you don't know what to do but want to look proactive, form a committee. I can't remember anything good ever coming out of one of these committees, largely because they comprise people whose opinion you couldn't care less about and who don't really know what they are doing. Consequently they fail to hit the mark or be taken seriously.

The current mobile inquest, the one supposedly designated to investigate performance, has only produced one piece of wisdom (the stuff PJ Mir came out with wasn't a revelation to anybody who has observed this team closely over the last year or so), and that wisdom was produced by somebody who hasn't appeared before the committee. Shaharyar Khan, the former diplomat and chairman of the PCB, asked a simple question: Why is Salim Altaf, a key player in the World Cup debacle, now sitting in judgment upon himself?

Well said, Mr Khan. His successor Dr Ashraf mumbled some platitudes about integrity in his first major press conference since his boss refused his resignation. Integrity isn't just a word to toss around to impress your listeners with, you have to earn it through your deeds and your actions. Salim Altaf's seat on the performance evaluation committee is a bad start to this age of accountability and integrity. Indeed, his committee is a touring three-ring circus whose conclusions will be consigned to the dustbin of history like all the other committees-cum-circuses that went before it.

What a cracking start. Things can only get better, you might think. But then again, that's what Tony Blair sang a decade ago and look what he did.

Kamran Abbasi is an editor, writer and broadcaster. He tweets here

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Keywords: Politics

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Posted by Abu Faissal on (April 19, 2007, 8:11 GMT)

Pakistan cricket needs a complete overhaul. The entire cricketting structure needs to be replaced. Pak ha salways banked on a few good batsmen and bowlers and dragged them in the team for decades. Most of the senior players are included in the team because of relationship with one official of teh board or the other. Some of them turn out to be good playes, and others fail but because of their "contacts' stay in the team. Out there are scores of good batsmen and bowlers who are far better players than teh most in the team. There is no system of talent hunt in the country. Board members use their position to enjoy their life on the official expense. What has an army general got to do with cricket? Just because he loves cricket does not make him qualified to run the nation's cricketing affair. The prsident has to use his power to let cricketting affairs run by the specialists, not by any of his friends or stooges. Board should be run by professionals who know ho wto run an organisation successfully. Cricket is now a buisness but it needs a different marketing style. You have to have a team with good players who can perform under all circumstances and pitches. YOU CAN NEVER HAVE A GOOD AND PERSISTENT TEAM UNDER THE PRESENT BOARD OR THE SYSTEM IN THE COUNTRY. First of you should get rid of old cricketrs like Saleem Altaf who have nothing to contribute to the team now except enjoying because of their position. These are old players with old techniques an dthoughts and they are making merry because of their closeness to the board. There is a solution to this problem. A very strong personality with good cricketing brain must run the board. If I had a choice I will hanover the entire management of the board to someone like Imran Khan, who is not only loved by all because of his record, he i smore respected for his style. He means business and has no mercy for any underperformer. He gets the best of teh players. Being chairman of teh board, he will run cricketting affairs more professionally. He will accept this position or not (because of his political career) it is a different question. i can suggest a way to convince him: i will seek help of the media and support of the masses to FORCE him to accept the job. he is a nationalist and i doubt if he will disgaree. Th eproblem will be if he is given a free hand. If he accepts this job, you can have a tem before the next world cupp that will challenge any other team in the world. Secondly, there should be someone, an industrialist, who loves cricket and is willing to invest money in cricket development. How? By creating a sceond unofficial Pak team (a la Kerry Packer). Pak has talent that can surprises even Pakistanis. i have known a few Pakistani cricketers during my college time in Pakistan who were brillian but could not get into team because they had nobody to recommend them. Back to the team capatain problem: Capataining a tema is a special job that requires a strong personality. You may not be a good batsman or a bowlers, but you may be strong in getting the best out of the players. The capatain has to have a good crciketing brain too, and think like a captain and now cow down to any player or board members's pressure. right now there is not asingle player in teh team who has all these qualities. i like Shoaib Malik, he appears to be a decent person, but I see him very SOFT and he will find it difficult to get the senior players' cooperation. I think Younus is a lost case, if he does not feel confident then it will be like making a sick horse carry a heavy load and then he is bound to fall soon. Younus can contribute by concentrating on playing well, he will be loved by all. Yousef lacks personality and does not appear to have a charisma that a captain must possess. He must forget his poor form inthe world cup and continue to concentrate on batting well. Shahid Afridi may prove to be a better captain if he can controll his temper. He is a senior player and looks to be getting along well with otehr players. Sometimes a person like Shahid Afridi can become better performer when given responsibility with free hand. I like Shoaib Malik, a very decent and pleasing person but that is not enough to be a good capatin. you have to be good with the players but "ruthless' when it comes to performance, and I do not see that in him. At the end may I request all Pakistani brothers, and I say say a cricket lover (I am not a Pakistani), let us forget about what happened in the world cup and think and plan about future. Best of luck to Pakistan cricket.

Posted by Gulab Khan on (April 17, 2007, 22:37 GMT)

Is Osman Samiuddin belongs to the big province?

Why is he working hard to bring Shoaib Malik Captin on Pakistan national team?

Shoaib Malik has a attitude problem. Thanks Raja for your links. Specially ur number two link showed, how he throws the match and saying that he wanna make happy to ALLAH only. Another extremist. They think ALLAH will glad for your this action. I think this is the reason he broke his engagemnet without any reason. SELFISH, COWARD candidate for the captin.

I think PCB needs to take aggresive steps to solve this issue for ever.

Brings up Pakistan uder 19 world cup as our national team and select the same captin for the national team, who led the the under 19 team to won the cup for us.

Gulab Khan Peshawer

Posted by Dave on (April 17, 2007, 22:24 GMT)

Captain should be good looking like Imran Khan. When the captain is good looking results are good too. I think Yasir Arfat should be the Captain. he is good looking & belongs to PUNJAB.

I think because of that PCB include him in the world cup squad.

Dave Punjabi

Posted by khansahab on (April 17, 2007, 22:24 GMT)

Mr Javed A Khan from Montreal, Canada

I composed a comment in the morning regarding why Afridi is not a viable choice for captaincy. However, I decided against posting it for fear of Mr Abbasi getting fed up of my repeated rantings and deleted it. Now your post about Osman Samiuddin’s report on Malik had irked me insofar composing this comment.

I spoke about short term losses for long term gains and how the decision needs to be a balanced and well-thought out one. I appreciate your argument that Afridi would undoubtedly become a more responsible cricketer if he is offered captaincy but I believe “how responsible” he will become is the million dollar question.

You can’t make someone a captain for one series or a few months. You need time for a captain to settle down and gain confidence and respect of his players. Pakistan team is not busy until the end of this year so if PCB want to try Afridi has captain they will have let him remain as captain for about a year. Can we afford to risk that amount of time? Yes, we can experiment to an extent but should our experiments not be with those decisions that are less risky than making Afridi captain? International cricket is competitive and Afridi is not a suitable Test option if he cannot improve his batting. I think I am being too lenient if I say that, knowing Afridi’s volatile and vagarious personality, there is perhaps a 60% chance Afridi will improve his batting if offered captaincy. We can’t risk a year’s worth of time and resources for the sake of a 60% probability EVEN if we state that this is the time to experiment.

For 11 years Afridi has shown no intention of changing his playing style and becoming more consistent. By no means do I believe it is reasonable to assert that Afridi is a bowling all-rounder. His bowling needs to become much more consistent if we can categorise him as a bowling all-rounder who deserves a place in the side. We can say Abdul Razzaq is a bowling all-rounder too but anyone who has been following cricket closely for the past two years knows that Razzaq does not even deserve a place in the team. Calling Afridi a bowling all-rounder is like calling Danish Kaneria, Shane Warne or calling Mohammad Asif, Glenn McGrath. I am aware that Afridi’s bowling has improved of late but he needs more consistent bowling performances. So I think we can dispel with the argument that Afridi is a consistent bowler. If he plays against South Africa or Australia, he is likely to get thrashed.

So then we come to the argument that he is has sound leadership acumen. I admit that he is ambitious and has leadership skills. You might state that Michael Vaughan is not a terribly effective batsman but is the captain of the England team. Whereas I am willing to accede to that, Michael Vaughan is a shrewd captain who has the magical ability to remain calm even in the most unnerving situation. Afridi is neither shrewd nor calm. So Afridi is not a consistent bowler and neither a shrewd and calm individual.

Now we come to the argument of Shoaib Malik being a volatile and careless individual who threw away a domestic match because of his personal prejudice. What is that conduct in front of Afridi threatening the spectator with the bat in front of millions of spectators worldwide? What about scuffing the pitch? Afridi’s supporters can call that whatever but the rest of the world would call that “cheating”. Someone thought that Malik suggested Afridi to engage in that disgraceful behaviour. Afridi should have told Malik to do it himself if he is so concerned. So if you think Afridi has a cleaner profile than Malik, think again.

Finally we come to the question of Malik being a “Tableeghi disciple” as you stated. Sir, Afridi’s religious exuberance is such that he went to perform Hajj on the day of the final of the Twenty20 Cup. He could have decided to perform Hajj the next year. He instructs his wife to wear a Niqab and has commented that he would make his kids Quran Hafiz before making them gain any educational qualification. If anything, Afridi is more Tableeghi than Malik. Malik is associated more with fashion/open-mindedness than religious extremism although he is religious to an extent.

Mr Javed A Khan, I stated that you are the Undisputed King of this blog and I still stand by my assertion. However, I’m sorry to say that your argument about Afridi deserving captaincy is not very convincing to me. Well, at least we disagree about something! Perhaps this is a blessing in disguise as it may cause Euceph Ahmed and others to believe rightly that we are not the same person!

Posted by Zakir Khan, Ireland on (April 17, 2007, 18:53 GMT)

PCB should advertise Pak team captaincy in an international newspaper.all should be allowed to apply,national and non national.what a pitty.can Pak cricket go down any further??

Posted by Raja on (April 17, 2007, 18:35 GMT)

http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=story_3-5-2005_pg2_3

http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=6846012691398407951

http://archive.wn.com/2005/03/27/1400/televisionpakistan/

After that he brook his engagement without any good justification. (CHILDISH)

http://www.jang.com.pk/thenews/may2005-daily/03-05-2005/sports/s1.htm

http://www.dawn.com/2006/04/22/spt2.htm

http://www.howstat.com/cricket/Statistics/Players/PlayerOverview.asp?PlayerID=2879

http://www.howstat.com/cricket/Statistics/Players/PlayerOpponents.asp?PlayerID=2879

Is he ready for the captainship? You decided----

Raja Sailkot

Posted by JAVED A. KHAN, MONTREAL, CANADA on (April 17, 2007, 18:14 GMT)

People who want to influence the PCB decision makers in choosing a captain are trying their best to use the media the way they want a captain to be selected of their choice. Osman Samiuddin is doing just that, he wrote an article on cricinfo, here is the link:

http://content-usa.cricinfo.com/pakistan/content/current/story/290945.html

Mr. Samiuddin has not only put up Baby Shoaib Malik's picture on the web, but is also advocating and canvassing for him and showing a very strong support in his favour and even gave the verdict Malik likely to be named captain. At the same time he has not even mentioned the name of Shahid Afridi, who is another contender or campaigner for this post.

By doing this, Mr. Samiuddin is not doing a fair job as a journalist. Au Contraire, Mr. Kamran Abbassi in his previous threads has made equal comparisons of both these players and gave his views about why he think Afridi would be more suitable to lead the team, and he asked the bloggers to express their views as well. This, I think is a better approach. Everyone on this blog has a right to express his/her feelings and compare between the two choices or vote for anyone of their choice. I gave my vote for Afridi, for the reasons I believe are right to me. By vote, I mean support, and not actually a VOTE. That will be the day in the history of cricket when the PCB will ask the public to choose a Captain or the team through a referendum. But, that will be a chaos for sure!

From the article of Mr. Samiuddin, if that is what is gonna happen i.e., if Shoaib Malik is named as a captain, that will be only up to September 2007! This is so ridiculous and its sounds so very typical and so stupid of the PCB, yet it is possible because, the Chairman and the selectors are suffering from chronic, persistent, Pendootitis.

As a country Pakistan never ever had any long term plans for the nation. Every country has long term plans and short term plans. First, five year plan and second five year plan and so on........ but in Pakistan's history, there is no such thing as long term planning, in fact there is no such word as planning. Because, politicians and bureaucrats they all work with a belief that there is no tomorrow or tomorrow never comes.

Back to Malik, if that happens, its really a shame. Malik is one of Inzi's favourite Tableeghi Disciples. In one of the recent TV programmes, when Malik was asked by the TV compere whether he would like to give any message for the young cricketers of Pakistan? Malik replied: They should say prayers 5 times a day! That was a cricketing message that he gave to the youngsters! If Shoaib Malik is made the captain, there will be more of Tableegh and more sermons and more religious talk and nothing on cricket. Cricket ka Khuda Hafiz.

PS. John the Baptiste, keep your words of wisdom for yourself and speak at the next sermon at The Church of England. Pakistan is looking for a young captain and Mohammad Yousuf's case has nothing to do with religion, past or present. As regards respect, the team and the nation respects Mohammad Yousuf more than ever, so tez toi s.v.p.

Posted by Sheraz Malik on (April 17, 2007, 16:48 GMT)

Good news Younis khan is out of the race for captaincy. He justifies his place in Test squad but his ODI career does not even justify his place in the team. So, if PCB aims to appoint one captain for both teams then it must be someone who is a regular in both forms. Shoaib Malik, although not a perfect choice, is the only player in the team who has the performance and the personality to lead the team consisting of young and experienced players. He may face problems getting respect as a captain from senior players, espacially shoaib akhtar. But his calm and collected approach could work in his favour

Posted by John on (April 17, 2007, 15:50 GMT)

First of all it seems, Pakistan does not want the most consistent and well known batsman, Yousuf Yohana just because he was a Christian before. There is no particular reason why they did not go for Yousuf even though he suits to current team. Pakistan will never come up as a team when it considers religion as the most important thing. I guess not considering him as a captain is a stupid decision.

Posted by JT on (April 17, 2007, 15:46 GMT)

i think Younis is being very intelligent, the Pak captancy is a poison chalice that no one in their right mind would want to accept. well that and a coaching position.

the rep of Pakistan cricket has declined significantly over last 2-3 years...

also who wants to play for a team where they need to fear for their lives when they loose...

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Kamran Abbasi
Kamran Abbasi is an editor, writer and broadcaster. He was the first Asian columnist for Wisden Cricket Monthly and wisden.com. Kamran is the editor of the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine. @KamranAbbasi

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