World Cup 2011 January 24, 2011

Divide, rule, and destroy

Any tinge of happiness at Pakistan's Test series victory over New Zealand is rapidly vanishing courtesy of a farce orchestrated by the Pakistan Cricket Board

Any tinge of happiness at Pakistan's Test series victory over New Zealand is rapidly vanishing courtesy of a farce orchestrated by the Pakistan Cricket Board. The national team's chances of winning the 2011 World Cup look wobbly enough without more self-inflicted damage.

Invariably, cricket boards know who their first choice captain is, especially so close to a major tournament. Often, the captain has some say in squad selection. While Pakistan's selection process has come to resemble a tin-pot dictatorship, the selection of a captain had not previously been in doubt - even if Shahid Afridi was to be snubbed at the last.

Now Afridi is no longer assured of the captaincy. He has either been too outspoken or too out of form to be named as he should have been. Only the PCB knows what it is playing at. Coach Waqar Younis' justified complaint about this strategy was met with a disciplinary charge. Benign dictatorships can be productive but malevolent ones are destructive.

Pakistan's last all-powerful captain, Inzamam-ul Haq, has now raised his voice against the cricket board's divide and rule policy. Indeed, this blog will record Inzi's words for posterity so that we can refer back to them in the dark days of the World Cup campaign:

"With only three weeks left to the World Cup, Pakistan have no captain and the blame goes to the PCB for creating an impasse which has divided the team into two groups, supporting Afridi and Misbah. In this scenario one cannot have high expectations for the team.

"The PCB has failed to control the situation and if Pakistan fares badly in the World Cup, people will accuse the players and not the board.

"When a team is without a captain how can a proper strategy be made? The team is playing a one-day series in New Zealand but they do not know who will be their captain in the World Cup which is very damaging."

The PCB has groomed a captain for this World Cup. His name is Shahid Afridi. He might have limitations, but, with senior colleagues around him, those can be overcome. The PCB needs to stop being precious about its own ego and start allowing Pakistan's World Cup campaign to take shape. The longer any doubt lingers over leadership, the harder it will be for the team to gather any momentum before this year's biggest tournament.

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

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