Politics June 3, 2010

No reward for dignity

Pakistan cricket has its last chance to get its house in order before a tough summer of cricket against Australia and England

Younis Khan seeks justice but in Pakistan cricket there is no reward for dignity © AFP

Pakistan cricket has its last chance to get its house in order before a tough summer of cricket against Australia and England. The Asia Cup might be considered a distraction but it is also another shot at gathering momentum and resurrecting some damaged careers.

Shahid Afridi has put all bans behind him by claiming the national captaincy in all formats, a mighty responsibility. In the absence of viable alternatives, Afridi is the best choice. He is a leader rather than a tactician, and requires a more creative mind to cajole him through those confusing moments in the middle of an international match.

He could turn to his new vice-captain, Salman Butt, although their coupling is virgin. He might consider the repentant sinner that is Shoaib Malik, although their past entanglements suggest otherwise. The same would apply to Shoaib Akhtar, pardoned and toned up for action. What about Kamran Akmal, Umar Akmal, or Mohammad Asif? All sinners too, now forgiven.

Indeed, the PCB has suddenly swapped its jackboot for a velvet glove. Nobody really expected otherwise, even though the routine on this occasion has been even more brazen than usual. Rana Naved-ul Hasan, a player who admitted underperforming on duty for his country, is fortunate that the PCB has lost all notion of justice. Despite some encouraging selections for the Asia Cup, does anybody still respect this cricket administration?

Now only two wounded beasts remain in the wilderness. Mohammad Yousuf perhaps prefers the wilderness? He still has runs in him at Test level but his decision about a return, dependent on the advice of elders, seems unclear and opportunistic. He is too great a batsman to squander his talent with this dithering.

Meanwhile, Younis Khan would welcome a return to international cricket but he will not do it with a compromise. Why should a World Cup winning captain agree to pay a fine when he isn't guilty, especially when he is the victim of a conspiracy? Paying a fine is an admission of guilt, and Younis has too much pride to sell his soul. It is rare for a modern Pakistan cricketer to make a stand on principle. It is even rarer for the current cricket board to admit it has made a mistake. It should. Afridi requires a wise counsel and the summer of Tests requires a middle-order batsman with an average of over 50.

Younis seeks justice but in Pakistan cricket there is no reward for dignity.

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

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