Politics August 18, 2008

He came, he saw, he floundered

Dr Ashraf has divided opinion in Pakistan

You may find this hard to believe but Dr Ashraf has divided opinion in Pakistan. His numerous critics have encountered a plentiful supply of advocates. The central argument of the advocates of Ashraf is that he talks much sense. Nurtured in medical and human development environments, Ashraf has a soothing tone that pulls together jargon and management rhetoric to create an aura of competence.

Yet talking a good strategy is only one element of the role of the head of an organisation. The ultimate benchmark is the quality of decision making, and this is where Ashraf's record is lamentable.

Although Ashraf and his colleagues may blame their predecessors for destroying the foundations of Pakistan cricket, the rapid decline of the past two years is at complete odds with Ashraf's rhetoric. We have seen a downturn in results, administration, and spectacle. The worst sin has been that the excitement that fans traditionally associate with Pakistan cricket has almost disappeared.

Readers of this blog will be familiar with criticisms of Ashraf and his PCB. They ripple through every aspect of the administration of Pakistan cricket, and draw me to the conclusion that Ashraf's whimsical tenure is the worst period in Pakistan's modern history.

When selecting candidates for the hall of shame, Tauqir Zia's rule would rival Ashraf's but the General's fortune was that he caught the tail end of the careers of some of Pakistan's greatest cricketers and the beginning of a new era of some optimism.

It is hard to find that optimism now. Pakistan's captain is weak and troubled. The bowling resources are ravaged by drugs and scandal. The batsmen are incomplete and unreliable. The coach is unproved and under pressure. The administration is divided and unpopular. Even the future of cricket in Pakistan seems to hang in the balance on a daily basis.

Yet out of this mess Pakistan fans will find hope, as they always do. The greatest hope will be that the new chairman of the board will have the capabilities to resurrect the team's performance and the stature of his country on the international stage.

Dr Nasim Ashraf came, saw, and floundered. How long will it take to conquer?

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