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Imran Khan has described it as a suicide attack but you might wonder if there is anything left worth destroying? When your cricket board spends most of its time firing off legal notices against its players, selectors, and the sport's governing body the crisis is truly a drama. The Pakistan Cricket Board is an institution incapable of persuading anybody of its point of view, resorting to exercise its wishes by threat of legal action.
The PCB's objection to the ICC's plan to depoliticise national cricket boards is understandable. The PCB is an entirely political organisation whose patron is the president of the country, and whose chairman is a direct appointment of the president and a political associate. Above all, the current chairman's position is weak. Ijaz Butt is abundantly disliked and his decision making has only brought ruin and ridicule. The only reason that he remains in charge is the patronage of President Zardari. Without politics, Butt would be out of office. The PCB is an important national institution and a prize that the ruling party would never voluntarily give away.
Hence this legal bullying is a desperate attempt to retain power. The ICC should march on regardless, depoliticising world cricket is far more important than the petty power games of Butt and his cricket board. Indeed, the ICC needs to take a much closer look at the workings of the PCB, just as closely as it seeks to examine Mohammad Amir's sixty runs and four wickets in a division one Surrey Cricket League match.
Amir's appearance for Addington 1743 is a potential violation of his ban for spot-fixing, which bars him from cricket or cricket-related activities for five years. Pakistan's pace sensation is a misguided and gullible young man who deserves pity not scorn, but he will have to live with the consequences of naivety. But ICC's rules should apply universally. While Amir is set to be punished further, his fellow miscreants, Salman Butt and Mohammad Asif, have become regular pundits on Pakistan television. How have the PCB and ICC allowed these cricket-related transgressions?
Pakistan television companies and producers may not have any qualms but supporters are still sickened to see these men commenting on a sport that they have defiled. Instead of blocking these appearances, the PCB has effectively endorsed them by allowing its officers to appear on the same programme. The PCB has belatedly suspended national selector Mohammad Ilyas after he shared a studio with Salman Butt, although the major reason for his suspension appears to be his dispute with Afridi.
Ijaz Butt appeared in the same programme as Salman Butt and Ilyas, and joined in the same discussion, although by telephone, yet there is no word of censure against the PCB Chairman. The administration of the PCB has been little better than amateur farce for several years but have its ethical values ever been so compromised, its political entanglements ever been so tight and damaging?
The PCB is in disrepute and Pakistan cricket is further crushed, barely able to sustain an assault by a pea-shooter let alone a suicide attacker. When the cricket board is in such crisis and its governance in ignorant disarray, the time might have come for the ICC to intervene? Only yesterday, Abdul Razzaq reminded the world of the dazzling abilities of Pakistan's cricketers, but that river of mercurial talents is in danger of being dammed forever by the damned cricket board of Ijaz Butt.
To save Pakistan cricket and cricketers, the ICC must first save them from their own cricket board.
Kamran Abbasi is an editor, writer and broadcaster. He tweets hereFeeds: Kamran Abbasi
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Kamran Abbasi is an editor, writer and broadcaster. He was the first Asian columnist for Wisden Cricket Monthly and wisden.com. Kamran is the editor of the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine. @KamranAbbasi