2010: Summer of Pakistan September 9, 2010

Dead tour walking

Shahid Afridi's players have acquired the greatest responsibility in the history of Pakistan cricket: the responsibility to save Pakistan cricket from the recklessness of their colleagues and the negligence of all the President's men

Four months ago Pakistan were the most feared team in Twenty20 cricket. Four days ago they were dreadful. This is a dead tour walking and it is up to Shahid Afridi's team to bring it back to life. A summer that began with hope and ambition is ending in total disaster. A demoralised team is playing before numb supporters. If Pakistan's remaining players have clear consciences they need to show the world that their country has the pride and heart to face down the many challenges it faces.

As the saying goes, a fish rots from the head, and Pakistan cricket will not halt its death slide until the head of the cricket board is replaced. Yet Ijaz Butt appears as secure as ever, safe in his friendship with the President of Pakistan. We would all love to know the precise nature of the debt that Zardari owes Butt, beyond personal connections, because Butt's has been the most disastrous regime in the history of Pakistan cricket.

The world is powerless to break Butt's spell over Zardari. This sense of powerlessness complicates the grief that Pakistan supporters are currently experiencing. My impression is that Pakistan fans have been through a stage of denial and are hovering between anger and sadness, with the final stage of grief being acceptance. The current Pakistan players and management, assuming their innocence, must be cycling through similar stages.

I have reached a mood of sadness about the spot-fixing affair. I watched my first live Pakistan match 35 years ago, and have commented on Pakistan cricket for 15 years. In all those hours and days of my life lost to cricket, in all the million or so words I must have written about the team that once wore the green and gold with pride, I have never felt so disenchanted. Pakistan cricket has suffered every conceivable scandal yet this cut feels the deepest. Why?

I'm not quite sure what the answer is but I guess there are many factors that contribute to my malaise. This tour was billed as a lifeline for Pakistan cricket, a route to revenue and rejuvenation. The new-look team was supposed to offer a clean break from the past, boasting a bowling attack to rival any on the planet. Passionate support would fill stadiums and create an unforgettable spectacle.

We had glimpses of that dream but now we live a nightmare. Pakistan has been troubled by match-fixing allegations before but today's circumstances are the most perturbing. The Qayyum inquiry of a decade ago was unsatisfactory for many reasons, one of which was its failure to produce any compelling evidence for public consumption. The current crisis may not result in a criminal prosecution, and the ICC inquiry has still not reached a conclusion, but the recent allegations have shattered the confidence that fans have in their team.

Last time around we were still unsure of what really happened but this time the videos and the transcripts are difficult to dislodge from our minds. They may not prove guilt but they have shaken our belief in the integrity of the sport. All this on the backdrop of a crippling war and murderous floods.

Ultimately, though, this melancholy might be explained by the powerlessness to oust the people who many supporters believe have failed in their duty to preserve the integrity and the reputation of Pakistan cricket; people who should have kept agents from the team's door, selected wisely, and guided their young charges with greater responsibility.

The players may change by the day, one disaster might be outdone by a different calamity from one week to the next, but the cricket board and the team management are constants, unwilling to take any responsibility for supervising Pakistan cricket to intensive care.

The head of this fish is rotten, as is its bloated body. The players form the tail of this once vibrant, now monstrous creature, and it is the healthy parts of the tail that must wag this beast back to life. They should be boosted by two new additions in Asad Shafiq, a highly rated middle-order batsman, and Mohammad Irfan, the new Big Bird of international cricket. With Shoaib Akhtar and Afridi in the mix, even in its death throes, Pakistan cricket offers a twitch of fascination.

Now Afridi's players have acquired the greatest responsibility in the history of Pakistan cricket: the responsibility to save Pakistan cricket from the recklessness of their colleagues and the negligence of all the President's men. Sport can replace misery with joy but this is a deep melancholy and the most desperate of times. Can Boom Boom and his band of tortured men demonstrate the real power of cricket?

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

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • testli5504537 on December 23, 2011, 17:05 GMT

    No complaints on this end, smpily a good piece.

  • testli5504537 on September 20, 2010, 17:45 GMT

    Hi Karmran, Just wondering what it takes to comment on your blog? I have commented quite a few times but had no luck in getting them published on this blog. I understand it is your right to reject any comment however I was just curious if there is something in my comments that cause them rejected. thanks for your blog posting . regards Ali

  • testli5504537 on September 20, 2010, 3:53 GMT

    it looks like they have planted listening devices in the rooms of Pakistani players.Whatever plan the team makes(e.g.controlling run rate at a certain point of the game, which is perfectly legitimate)is being conveyed to a tabloid, in advance, which is conveyed to ICC as match fixing,and is brought up as spot fixing after the match.This does not mean that Amir,Asif,Salman Butt and Akmal are not criminals.However rest of the team memmbers seem to be innocent

  • testli5504537 on September 20, 2010, 3:17 GMT

    the only action that can be taken is for all cricket playing nations to stop having any sort of cricketing ties with Pakistan.. then, may be, they will start cleaning up their stables. but that is wishful thinking

  • testli5504537 on September 19, 2010, 21:39 GMT

    Only one Pakistani who is respected home and abroad that is Imran Khan.If he takes the charge of PCB or country that would be something to cheer.

  • testli5504537 on September 19, 2010, 21:14 GMT

    Totally agree to shehryar views....

  • testli5504537 on September 19, 2010, 21:05 GMT

    I think there is an octopus involve in match fixing he tells early English media that what is going to be happened in certain time of the game and media pass there knowledge to ICC and Poor Blind, Deaf ICC follow the media and launching the investigation without thinking listening or seeing who is the winner and who is the loser duh ICC.

  • testli5504537 on September 19, 2010, 20:54 GMT

    Butt has once again lost the plot but this time it is going to hurt Pakistan cricket like never before. He is a fool to mess up our relationship with the ECB by accusing English players.

    All know that the guy has no brains but surely someone close to his ‘Royal Thickness’ needed to remind him to be more careful mainly due to ECB’s goodwill to stage their ‘Home’ games on their shores. Also, when off-the- field things are going bad to worse for Pakistan cricket, PCB needed some friends around them – if we ever had any!!!

    Mr. Butt’s recent statement has now also given Cricket Australia an excellent opportunity to take revenge of Howard’s nomination circus; they will now lobby to get Pakistan banned or major members to refuse to play Pakistan.

    I do believe that there was a need for an ‘outburst’ from PCB against ICC because they are not managing these things carefully and damaging cricket in general by making public statements on allegations without substance but such ‘outbursts’ should be diplomatically crafted.

    We all want to see cricket cleaned up for good but ICC have gone from one extreme to another (i.e. Warne’s cover up to current Haroon Logart media show). If ICC cannot investigate these allegations discreetly then they should also be told that we cannot allow public humiliation of our Cricketers based on some allegations reported by a third grade newspaper.

  • testli5504537 on September 19, 2010, 20:28 GMT

    Congratulations to India and all those dump Pakistani fans who think that Spot and Match fixing in the whole cricket world is only done by Pakistani cricketers. Look what ICC playing whose game. If India wants to win World cup and wnats to be number one it is better for them to buy world cup and number one spot from ICC. The day all the big money starting to come from Indian cricket board crickrt is more look like a circus rather a fun to watch and enjoy. All the Big bookies are in India and they are fixing matches for all the teams in the world. That is why their board is also becoming fat because may be they are also getting their share as well. Indian cricketers become Millionare after a single match and no eyebrows raised.Their cricketers living in the hub of bookies but they are clean as water.Asif Iqbal former cricketer of pakistan correctly said whenever Pakistan win their is fixing allegations but if they loose then it is no problem.

  • testli5504537 on September 19, 2010, 17:21 GMT

    This is really funny....Now even PCB chief is talking of World conspiracy to defame Pakistan cricket.. Isnt it ridiculous. People conspire to bring down those who have something or have gained something.Except a solitary T20 World cup and 1992 World cup what else has been achieved. Most of series Pakistan plays it looses.. from winning position .No one wants to tour a country where there is average of at least 1 terrorist attack under daily. People retire and are banned as per convenience..caring a damn hoot about law and regulations. Countries refuse to give direct financial aid to govt because it is corrupt. Pakistan has not given one invention nor discovery that has benefited world. In fact only thing it is famous is the I.T exports...in this case IT not meaning Information technology but International terrorism...Be it PM or be it president on be it..al they seem to be asking is always for help...So in short nobody in worl is gain a penny worth of value by defaming already defamed.

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