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October 13, 2009

Age of Khan

Meritless chancers win again

Kamran Abbasi


Younis can return © AFP
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The best of times are usually followed by the worst of times. This is Pakistan cricket. Something in the Pakistani psyche will inevitably prevent a delicate flower from blooming. Cricket is so fundamental to this nation’s identity that everybody wants a slice of cricket’s luxurious pie. Politicians, bureaucrats, and administrators want their 15 minutes of fame — though infamy is more common.

Meritless chancers choose cricket as their passport to power and glory. Nothing provides a greater thrill to these self-deluded fools than the belief that they have brought a national champion to his knees.

Pakistan cricket’s history is punctuated with such insulting tragedies, the most poignant being that of Imran Khan, the Sher of Pakistan, deciding to retire from international cricket after winning the 1992 World Cup.

Imran was 40 and his bowling had begun to evoke memories of Mudassar Nazar, but as a batsman and a leader his job in mentoring future champions was unfinished. But Pakistan cast him adrift, questioning his personal motives and viewing a hero with a scoundrel’s contempt. Imran’s pride, his greatest asset and his perennial weakness, forced him to say he’d had enough.

I once heard a parable of why ability is rarely a criterion for progress in Pakistan, why merit counts for nothing. It is not the whole explanation, of course, but an important part of it.

Imagine a ladder reaching up to the heavens, with all the millions of people of Pakistan condemned to an eternity of clambering to the top, an exhausting desperate existence. The first person to reach the summit will liberate his people from this ladder-climbing hell but will also become king and master of his nation.

In the heavenly ladders of other nations, people reach the top to bring succour to their fellows. They achieve this through co-operation and a realisation that the best of them should reach the summit for the common good. There are some false starts, and some progress to their goal faster than others, but they move towards liberation from their plight.

On the Pakistani ladder, people climb forever, a purgatory of perpetual struggle without reward. Pakistanis of all hues and tongues rush to the top, trampling over their weaker countrymen, pushing many off the ladder to their deaths a thousand miles below.

Some are pure geniuses, racing up the ladder with skill and artistry unseen on any other heavenly ladder. But each time a Pakistani nears the top, a hundred, nay a thousand bitter hands reach upwards, making a superhuman effort to grab their fellow, drag him back, and plunge him into the darkness below.

Nobody reaches the top. Nobody succeeds. Nobody brings solace to a troubled people.

This then is the state of Pakistan, the mindset of Mr Jamshed Dasti, a supposedly honourable parliamentarian. It is the mindset that pervades too much of Pakistani society and cricket.

Why let a good man succeed when you can’t succeed yourself?

I commend Younis Khan for standing by his principles. The laws of libel and slander are too weak to protect anybody’s reputation in Pakistan. I would have commended him too if he had decided to stay and battle his adversaries. No evidence has been presented, no grounds for a character assassination.

The attack on the integrity of Pakistan’s cricketers was unleashed by a frivolous media report, a report seized upon by a dismal political creed that chooses to devote its time to investigating cricketers when the country is in crisis. The investigations that are urgently required, however, are of the politicians, bureaucrats, and administrators who destroy every bright new dawn. But that reckoning will not come.

No resignation or retirement is the last word in Pakistan cricket. I imagine Javed Miandad in perpetual preparation to come back to lead Pakistan and bat at No.4 against Australia. That isn’t about to happen. But Younis can return. Pakistan needs him.

It is Mr Dasti and his ridiculous parliamentary committee who should resign or be sacked for giving dumb credence to a scurrilous story. And if the rumours are true about the role of the PCB in destabilising Younis, those self-appointed busy bodies should hang their heads in shame. What have they achieved, what talent do they possess, compared with the men they seek to fling off the heavenly ladder?

Younis is no Imran but his story has echoes of the past in the manner of how a triumphant captain is dethroned. What gives the system abusers, who sit in positions of power without mandate, the right to malign the reputation of a cricketer who has delivered a World Cup and a world of prestige? If this is the fate of a hero what hope for the common man or woman?

Once again nobody reaches the top, nobody succeeds, and nobody brings solace to a troubled people.

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

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Posted by Ammad Zafeer on (October 25, 2009, 15:52 GMT)

Wasim Akram's wife has passed away is Chennai, India. RIP.

Posted by DC Green on (October 18, 2009, 8:49 GMT)

I'm am Aussie supporter, and I'm stunned and saddened by this whole affair. YK is a wonderful batsman, an inspiring leader and a straight-shooting good bloke. Who are these bloated nobody politicians to keep dragging down Pakistani cricket?

Posted by Saad Naseem on (October 17, 2009, 22:47 GMT)

I think Younis Khan has done the right thing by demanding captaincy until the 2011 World Cup. It will ensure that he gets a chance to apply his brilliant captaincy skills in order to build a world class team that will continue to serve the country for many years to come. The people who think that he has made a cowardly decision by resigning are in fact underestimating the emotional blow that is faced by a person who faces such hedious allegations right after winning one of the most prestigious tournaments in the game (T20 WC). Ramiz Raja, a man with rational thoughts (a rarity among our emotional people), and Rt. Lt. General Tauqir Zia, one of the best ever heads of PCB, both have supported his decision. It is true that Younis still has much to prove with his bat but he certainly has delivered as a captain so far.

Posted by Aquil Ahmed Siddiqui (Dubai) on (October 17, 2009, 15:31 GMT)

There is nothing wrong in inquiring the reasons for a defeat in a Parliament Qaema committee. The insulting public statments made by the committee Chairman and some other Ministers and Board Officials is to be stopped in Future. Younus Khan and his Team Boys should be treated by respect. Accusation of match Fixing and cricizing Umpiring decision should be stopped for ever. This is hurting our cricket very badly. We know South Africa had a greater stake of winning the Championship on their Home grounds. They were out from the first round. They and Sri Lanka accepted their exit quite honorably. Our Team performed so well that they reached to the Semi Final level. We should encourage them for this imrovement. No one should try to create differeces between the players on Captainship issue. We can discuss on pointing out the weaknesses of the players for their improvement. Match Report is enough to settle other issues.

Posted by Junaid on (October 16, 2009, 20:51 GMT)

"Posted by: Wasim at October 15, 2009 7:28 PM Younis Khan should write three letters of thanks. The first for Mr Dasti whose loose accusations distracted the whole nation and turned Younis into a victim from a culprit. The other two letters should be written for Mr Abbassi and Osman Samiuddin for turning a blind eye toward his personal performance and the blunders he is committing as a captain and above all in successfuly portraying Younis as the saviour of Pakistan cricket and the next best thing after Imran Khan. " Well Said Wasim. I agree 100% YK is the most lucky person as he got chance to become a hero after most pathetic personal performances in last 2 series. When Shoaib Malik used to fail as batsman or Pakistan used to lose under him than these writers were always demanding his resignation but now it is the other way as they are trying to defend an underperforming captain. YK is now trying to blackmail PCB to get long term stint as captain and they call him honest and fair..

Posted by Munir Abbasi on (October 16, 2009, 19:01 GMT)

I guess Younis khan has cleverly exploited the situation at a time when no one was demanding his resignation and now wants to cash the sentiments in the form of getting assurance on captaincy till 2011.

I believe that he should concentrate on proving that he is worthy enough of being included in the squad. He should thank Allah that after all these mostly unfruitful years of his cricket... he still survives :)

Posted by ratee on (October 16, 2009, 18:58 GMT)

Politicians play with politics but very few succeed in our Country in this profession as well.

They are highly paid and respected till they lose their respect when they show their real faces.

This has happened once again its wasteful on our part to invest more time in discussing the inevitable that is: "First do the job for which you were elected and then meddle with things that you know nothing about".

Posted by Kool Kat on (October 16, 2009, 18:23 GMT)

@ Muhammedh and Sorcerer : Nice, vivid imagination. Stop being emtional and start becoming real. By the way, you can look for careers like story telling to 5 year kids.

Posted by SYED JAFFERY on (October 16, 2009, 14:56 GMT)

Mr. Kamran you should restrained yourself of writing an emotional article on Pakistanis on a public blog like this. It is just useless to comment on the polititions as we all know how good they are running the country. But being a cricketer myself, we all know the capabilities of Younis Khan and Shahid afridi. You just cannot compare them with the likes of Imran Khan and Javed Miandad. Due to their discipline and unquestionable patriotism they were manage to win so many laurels for the country. Honestly, I think our criketers in this era needs to be trained and councelled to handle such situations. It is really frustrating to read their interviews and listen to them on TV. They are in the team due to the scarcity of talent in Pakistan rightnow. Just immagine putting this team agaianst even the Zimbabwians of 90's. The standard of cricket was so strong at that time. My advise to Younis khan is to avoid media contacts as much as possible and controls his emotions till he actually retires

Posted by Yunis Khan on (October 16, 2009, 12:15 GMT)

Why was out of form Umer Gul given chance when a better baller like Asif was around? Umer Gul has the worst Strike rate of all the Pakistani ballers in the current squad.

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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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