Politics October 11, 2010

Younis Khan: a selection scandal

Many gruesome disasters have befallen Pakistan cricket in the past 18 months

Amid the regrets, withdrawals, and reversals that pour forth from the orifice of the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB), one policy remains constant: Younis Khan is barred from selection for the national team. The facts are simple and as ever, they paint a dismal picture for the Chairman of the PCB. Younis is available for selection, yet the selectors are unable to select him. He has no case to answer following the ridiculous ban imposed upon him by the PCB but his case is still open.

The question is why? And the answer is simple: Mr Butt has a shifting policy on apologies. The players banned, barred, or suspended following the disastrous tour of Australia have eased their path back into the team with a well-timed apology to Mr Butt. What they were apologising for, nobody was clear. Why they then apologised is only for their consciences to answer. Mohammad Yousuf's equally well-timed retirement helped him bypass any action from the PCB and obviate the need for an apology.

Yousuf, aside, Mr Butt is big on people apologising to him. When the boot is on the other foot, however, his love of an apology vanishes in a flash. Mr Butt's recent slander of the ECB and its cricket team was followed by a show of defiance that an apology would not follow. For once, he was true to his word. His carefully-worded, legally-crafted retraction did not contain the word 'apology'. It contained intonations of regret, withdrawal, and misunderstanding but no apology in sight.

Indeed, why stop at the ECB? Mr Butt owes some hefty apologies to Pakistan cricket supporters for the destruction of Pakistan cricket. You see, for a man so reluctant to offer any kind of apology for his own misdeeds, it is the cruelest of ironies that he is demanding an apology, a personal one, from Younis, before he allows Mohsin Khan to select him.

What that apology is for, nobody is quite sure? If Mr Butt wants to tell us, we'd be delighted to hear, but I suspect that silence speaks volumes about the lack of gravity of Mr Butt's charge. Younis, for his part is clear and always has been: Why apologise when you have nothing to apologise for?

And thereby hangs the tale of the predicament and the tragedy of Pakistan cricket, that there is no room for a man of principle in the Pakistan cricket team.

Younis has had his fair share of detractors. Mr Butt, of course. Many of the players were unhappy with him and swore an oath against his captaincy. When Pakistan were struggling against Australia this summer, I was reliably informed that 'The Boys' would welcome back Yousuf but they would not want Younis back in the team. The events of the past few weeks, however, have cast all those objections to Younis in a very different light.

Many gruesome disasters have befallen Pakistan cricket in the past 18 months. But perhaps one of the most serious, and easily forgotten among the tidal wave of calamaties, is how the chairman of the national cricket board is killing the career of a World Cup-winning captain. This is a selection scandal that requires an apology - even regret or retraction - from Mr Butt and his hopeless cricket board. Younis Khan owes Mr Butt nothing, least of all an apology.

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