Politics May 21, 2010

When will the circus end?

Yes, the players have brought shame upon themselves but their behaviour has been tacitly encouraged by their employers

Mohammad Yousuf led Pakistan during the disastrous tour of Australia © Associated Press

Amid the fuss about Pakistan's performance on their latest tour of Australia, two conclusions are clear. First, the ICC's anti-corruption unit does not have any evidence to suggest that Pakistan's players were involved in match-fixing, although the investigation is 'live'. Indeed, it laments the disintegration of the team. Which leads to the second conclusion, a conclusion that has been hammered into our skulls for the last 12 months and beyond: Pakistan cricket is a mismanaged circus.

It is somehow convenient to blame the players for their ill-discipline and lack of professionalism but how can you expect barely educated, ill-guided young men to behave to top standards? Even the best educated, most experienced senior executives squabble, backbite, connive, and act with self interest if their organisation creates the appropriate malignant atmosphere.

How can we expect high standards from cricketers who do not know what standards are? Ignorance may not be an excuse, you might argue, but Pakistan's players are hardly equipped with the tools to learn for themselves. The failings in Pakistan cricket are the crassest example of mismanagement, and that mismanagement is by the PCB and its appointed team officials.

Yes, the players have brought shame upon themselves but their behaviour has been tacitly encouraged by their employers.

Why then have these selected videos come to light now? It is not clear that the players and officials even knew they were being filmed. The excuse the PCB is peddling is that it released the videos to some of the accused players. Why was this done? It is usual in a legal process to simply send a transcript of a hearing.

Ultimately, if your management of an enterprise is so hopeless and you are so unaware of the real problems your organisation faces that you have to launch an inquiry after each failure, you will encourage a destructive atmosphere. People will conspire against colleagues, skeletons will tumble out of cupboards, and morale will be destroyed. In this behaviour, badly managed Pakistan cricketers are no different to badly managed government ministers or corporate executives.

A wise head is required, however, to call time on this circus in Pakistan cricket. Instead of a wise head, we have a ringmaster thrashing the circus to higher and higher states of frenzy. That ringmaster isn't Younis Khan, Mohammad Yousuf, or Shoaib Malik. That ringmaster is the PCB. When will the circus end?

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

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