Politics June 12, 2008

Frustrated Ashraf fires a scattergun

Much of Ashraf's scattergun email at the team management fires bullets at targets that are outside his zone

Some companies have a policy of avoiding emails to tick off employees. Emails often read more angrily than they were written. Cold words, delivered without the benefit of emotion or inflection, can sting and wound. But perhaps that was Dr Ashraf's intention with his furious email to Talat Ali about Pakistan's dismal performance against India?

As chairman of the board, Ashraf carries the ultimate responsibility for the success or failure of the national cricket team. He has a duty to hire and fire, encourage and admonish in the pursuit of excellence and a return to glory days. On the evidence of Pakistan's recent form and this email, don't expect anything glorious anytime soon.

Since we don't have the fortune to read all his emails we can only assume that the Ashraf that is revealed in this email is the true Ashraf. And this Ashraf is frustrated, and rightly so, at the failure of his team and their abject approach. As chairman he has every right to question the team's attitude, integrity, and the wisdom of selecting unfit players. Yet, much of Ashraf's scattergun email fires bullets at targets that are outside his zone.

It is interesting to consider where a chairman should interfere and where he should not. My concern is that Ashraf's email reveals a degree of interference in team selection and cricketing tactics that is unhealthy for Pakistan cricket and beyond his remit as chairman. It is a revelation that helps explain the floundering progress of Pakistan under his tenure, because with this degree of detailed interference it is hard for the team management to execute their duties effectively to plan.

Team selection, the batting approach, and the bowling strategies are for the coach and captain to decide. The selectors are next best placed to comment and offer guidance on these issues. A chairman might offer helpful suggestions, even ask the right questions, on cricketing tactics but not offer the angry tirade in his email.

Simply put, Ashraf needs to trust his management team or fire them. Either way, he should continue his pursuit of better attitude and higher standards but leave the cricketing details to the men he has hired to do the job.

The problem for Ashraf, of course, is that he is sinking under the weight of his relentless failure--and there is too much to put right before time runs out.

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