Ethics and morality March 9, 2010

Sinners cast the first stone

The PCB committee of inquiry wants to punish Pakistan’s cricketers

PCB’s latest investigation that has come down heavily on the players is a brazen attempt to save the skins of senior board members © Associated Press

The PCB committee of inquiry wants to punish Pakistan’s cricketers. The reasons are several, some known others only to be guessed. Unfortunately the whole episode is an exercise in passing the buck. The architects of the disastrous failure of Pakistan cricket have investigated their own performance and decided to blame some other people, the players.

When it comes to sympathy I have none for failed administrators and bureaucrats, who cling on to Pakistan cricket like leeches sucking every drop of lifeblood from a once vibrant national enterprise. These inquirers have a misplaced sense of justice: he who has sinned has cast the first stone. Isn’t the PCB’s latest diversionary investigation a brazen attempt to save the skins of senior board members?

Let’s take the accusations and the punishments. Shahid Afridi has already been punished by the ICC. The Akmal brothers could easily have been fined and disciplined without the hoopla we have had to endure, a self-inflicted public relations disaster. What Rana and Malik have done, nobody is yet sure? If it is match-fixing then how can one year bans suffice? It can’t be that.

If it is subversion of team spirit then there has to be better way of dealing with this. Indeed, the board encouraged this disruptive behaviour. When Younis Khan stepped down because a group of players refused to back him, the cricket board should have supported the captain. Instead, Mr Butt and his fellows undermined the institution of the national captaincy.

Who appointed the captain, coach, and manager for this debacle, and other recent ones? Who is ultimately responsible for discipline and professionalism? Yes, the grand inquisitors who are hoping that if the players take the flak they will escape without censure. Moreover, how can a squeaky clean board have dalliances with cricketers tainted by previous scandals, including the match-fixing scandal of the 1990s?

Ill-discipline from players does require sanction. Match-fixing requires life bans. But what about the members of the cricket board, who will hold them to account? Ultimately, it is the cricket board’s duty to manage issues of discipline and misconduct. It is in the governance and management of these very issues that the Pakistan Cricket Board has failed. Yet only Iqbal Qasim has accepted any responsibility. Power without accountability, this is the tragedy of Pakistan and Pakistan cricket.

J’accuse the cricket board, Mr Butt, and Mr Zardari for bringing dishonour to our national game and our nation. The players are puppets, yes glamorous puppets to be sure, but it is the puppet masters that are the root of the problem. Senior management creates an organisation in its own image. For shame go, but we all know these puppet masters are without shame.

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