Pakistan cricket October 12, 2011

Good riddance to Calamity Butt

Ijaz Butt is a miracle man. It was a miracle that he survived so long, and a greater miracle that Pakistan cricket survived him
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Ijaz Butt is a miracle man. It was a miracle that he survived so long, and a greater miracle that Pakistan cricket survived him. One consolation from Butt's reign of blunders is an appreciation that Pakistan cricket is a resilient enterprise, capable of withstanding any number of escapades at the precipice of destruction. Butt's failed suicide mission has affirmed that Pakistan cricket's demise will only come with the demise of the country.

Under Butt's half-seeing eye, each routine incident became a crisis, every disaster a calamity. Butt treated a national obsession with utter contempt, yet that obsession is so compulsive that it will endure thanks to the passion of players and supporters. When the Test series begins in Abu Dhabi next week, with one Butt gone and another Butt squirming in a London courtroom, Pakistan cricket will suck in the first breaths of a new life.

Butt's incompetence is surpassed only by his arrogance. The spot-fixing scandal shames Pakistan cricket each day, a potent testament to the failures of his cricket board, an organisation entirely incapable of handling any challenge. An attack on Sri Lanka's cricketers on the doorstep of the PCB's headquarters, isolation of Pakistan cricket and its cricketers, and a corruption crisis all demonstrated the failures of governance on Butt's watch.

The PCB became unloved at home and abroad, a friendless and joyless body seeking domination by oppressing its prize assets, heroes of Pakistan cricket past and present. It was obvious to everyone except the man himself that he was a bumbling misfit. Thanks to the indulgence of his friend and patron, President Asif Zardari, Butt treated and abused Pakistan cricket like a personal fiefdom.

This was an extreme example of the danger of personal connections prevailing over competence. Butt had no right to head Pakistan cricket but he arrogantly berated his enemies and interfered with the responsibilities of other board officers, including the national selectors. Worse still, his board damaged relationships with star players, Younis Khan and Shahid Afridi being prime examples. All along, Butt unapologetically revelled in the fame that his position and his connections brought him. He had no insight into his unworthiness for the post, only a hubristic conviction in his own decision-making.

Shaharyar Khan was the last of man of quality to head Pakistan cricket, a welcome improvement on the amateur enthusiasms of General Tauqir Zia. But The Oval Test of 2006 weakened Khan, and his successor, Naseem Ashraf, was a chancer on a mission of self-promotion. By the time Butt took charge, the office of board chairman had been devalued and the low expectations of Butt's regime were amply fulfilled.

Butt leaves Pakistan cricket in an abject mess. The chief selector is also interim national coach. The interim chief selector has a penchant for public disputes and a brazen disregard for conflicts of interest. Several major players are suspended or disenfranchised. Pakistan no longer hosts international cricket. The cricket board is marginalised in international cricket politics. The national team is lowly in international rankings, and the feel-good factor of 2009's World T20 victory has long since evaporated. Three years of damage will take a generation to repair.

Butt has truly failed and his purported successor, Zaka Ashraf, is unknown to the world except for a worrying proximity to the President of Pakistan. In Pakistan, it seems only the president's relatives or close friends have the essential skills and experience to run a major enterprise. What a pitifully untalented lot we are. The new chairman's strongest endorsement is that it is hard to imagine how anybody could fare worse than Butt, although plumbing new depths of incompetence has become a national pastime.

Meanwhile, Pakistan's cricketers attempt to build on encouraging progress since the spot-fixing allegations, and the supporters, almost with one voice, shout good riddance to Butt, the man who came closest to destroying Pakistan cricket. Among the legion catastrophes that have besieged Pakistan cricket in the past decade, the biggest calamity of all was the man himself.

I asked Pakistan cricket fans to tweet me their verdicts on Ijaz Butt's reign. Here is a selection of instant reactions:

@ndorobo: Finally, Pak cricket can wake up and rise again.

@passioncricket: Congratulations. At last, a dark era in Pakistan cricket has finished.

@yasirshahid: So Butt is gone. This is the closest Pakistanis are going to get to their Tahrir Square moment.

@mediagag: The night is darkest just before dawn. Really don't think any night can be darker than Ijaz Butt.

@saz69cent: There are people nominated for top PCB positions I wouldn't trust to park my car.

@aatifnawaz: I'm gutted he's gone. My stand-up comedy career may well die with the end of his tenure. Here's to hilarious mis-management!

@wittytweetspk TauqeerZia Was Better Than ShaharyarKhan WBT NaseemAshraf WBT IjazButt. I fear the day when we will long for Ijaz Butt!

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

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • SK on November 12, 2011, 0:45 GMT

    I very much doubt things are going to change until we get rid of the pathetic Zardari.

    YasirShahid's tweet is spot on if very disheartening. We need to pull a miracle (after Butt) & now get Zardari out as well.

  • Irfan khan on November 11, 2011, 17:46 GMT

    Wats with being over critique and blah blah .......For heaven's sake look what he has done to our cricket ....Eradicating player power is one thing but wiping off the face of cricket in this country is a blunder of gigantic proportions .....If Ijaz butt can run the affairs and still get away without any remorse for the loss inflicted then that pretty much sums up the stubbornness of the devil himself .......He was truly the BUTT-HEAD we never needed .....

  • aftab qureshi on October 21, 2011, 16:20 GMT

    I am delighted to see the big back of Mr. Ijaz Butt although you may have been over critical. At the same time, I am one of those who believe that the headquarters of Pakistan's cricket problems is in the Patron-in-Chief's office. But I am willing to wish Zaka Ashraf well despite that. One piece of advice for him, though: dont make big decisions about the game without consulting the known cricketing minds in the country. Call Imran Khan for advice, not Asif Zardari!

  • Jay on October 21, 2011, 12:31 GMT

    PLease put Imran Khan and Wasim Akram in charge of PCB. I want to see more India Pak mathces and Pak players in IPL.

  • Sam on October 19, 2011, 13:57 GMT

    @Cric_fan: Shoaib Akhtar is busy baring all his feelings for Indian Cricketers.. he doesnt have time to look in his own house!

  • Zahid on October 17, 2011, 21:48 GMT

    I really disagree with Mr. Abbasi in his approach in making assessment of Butt's tenure. In making any assessments of any individuals abilities and achievements, you must compare him with the contemporary leadership in the society. As a chairman of PCB, Mr. Butt must be compared with railway minister, Chairmen of PIA, Steel mills, Pepko and other institutions. In a relative study, you might find Mr. Butt to be one of the best management experts available to the currunt government. Take my words, he will be awarded a national medal in 2012.

  • jogesh99 on October 17, 2011, 12:57 GMT

    Would you like us to lend you Lalit Modi? Thank your stars bros.

  • Salim Khan on October 16, 2011, 15:58 GMT

    No doubt, Butt was a bad choice but he survived for 3 years and so many years Pakistan cricket suffered. Well the new choice for chairman PCB looks very awkward and I am not very confident that the new guy will do any better.How will Mr.Zaka handle the board when he has no experience of having played cricket. So Pathetic?

  • nasir on October 15, 2011, 21:21 GMT

    Don`t worry Mr Abbasi it is the other side of the same coin, Butt & Zaka selected by same person who`s is known to whole nation, nothing will change.May ALMIGHTY help our nation & cricket.

  • Bosco Martyres on October 15, 2011, 14:24 GMT

    The fact that the only qualifications for the job the new PCB chief has is that he is a pal of that scoundrel Zardari, does not bode well for the future of Palistani cricket. When oh when are we going to stop playing games? When is honesty, justice, integrity, and competence going to be the factors that determine a person's qualifications? When are the people of Pakistan going to rise up and boot the scoundrels out from all aspects of their lives. The time is NOW

  • SK on November 12, 2011, 0:45 GMT

    I very much doubt things are going to change until we get rid of the pathetic Zardari.

    YasirShahid's tweet is spot on if very disheartening. We need to pull a miracle (after Butt) & now get Zardari out as well.

  • Irfan khan on November 11, 2011, 17:46 GMT

    Wats with being over critique and blah blah .......For heaven's sake look what he has done to our cricket ....Eradicating player power is one thing but wiping off the face of cricket in this country is a blunder of gigantic proportions .....If Ijaz butt can run the affairs and still get away without any remorse for the loss inflicted then that pretty much sums up the stubbornness of the devil himself .......He was truly the BUTT-HEAD we never needed .....

  • aftab qureshi on October 21, 2011, 16:20 GMT

    I am delighted to see the big back of Mr. Ijaz Butt although you may have been over critical. At the same time, I am one of those who believe that the headquarters of Pakistan's cricket problems is in the Patron-in-Chief's office. But I am willing to wish Zaka Ashraf well despite that. One piece of advice for him, though: dont make big decisions about the game without consulting the known cricketing minds in the country. Call Imran Khan for advice, not Asif Zardari!

  • Jay on October 21, 2011, 12:31 GMT

    PLease put Imran Khan and Wasim Akram in charge of PCB. I want to see more India Pak mathces and Pak players in IPL.

  • Sam on October 19, 2011, 13:57 GMT

    @Cric_fan: Shoaib Akhtar is busy baring all his feelings for Indian Cricketers.. he doesnt have time to look in his own house!

  • Zahid on October 17, 2011, 21:48 GMT

    I really disagree with Mr. Abbasi in his approach in making assessment of Butt's tenure. In making any assessments of any individuals abilities and achievements, you must compare him with the contemporary leadership in the society. As a chairman of PCB, Mr. Butt must be compared with railway minister, Chairmen of PIA, Steel mills, Pepko and other institutions. In a relative study, you might find Mr. Butt to be one of the best management experts available to the currunt government. Take my words, he will be awarded a national medal in 2012.

  • jogesh99 on October 17, 2011, 12:57 GMT

    Would you like us to lend you Lalit Modi? Thank your stars bros.

  • Salim Khan on October 16, 2011, 15:58 GMT

    No doubt, Butt was a bad choice but he survived for 3 years and so many years Pakistan cricket suffered. Well the new choice for chairman PCB looks very awkward and I am not very confident that the new guy will do any better.How will Mr.Zaka handle the board when he has no experience of having played cricket. So Pathetic?

  • nasir on October 15, 2011, 21:21 GMT

    Don`t worry Mr Abbasi it is the other side of the same coin, Butt & Zaka selected by same person who`s is known to whole nation, nothing will change.May ALMIGHTY help our nation & cricket.

  • Bosco Martyres on October 15, 2011, 14:24 GMT

    The fact that the only qualifications for the job the new PCB chief has is that he is a pal of that scoundrel Zardari, does not bode well for the future of Palistani cricket. When oh when are we going to stop playing games? When is honesty, justice, integrity, and competence going to be the factors that determine a person's qualifications? When are the people of Pakistan going to rise up and boot the scoundrels out from all aspects of their lives. The time is NOW

  • Jim C on October 15, 2011, 7:59 GMT

    I remember the Pakistan of the late 70's to the early 90's...players like Majid Khan, Sarfraz, Imran, Javed Miandad, Mudassar Nazar, to name a very few, wouldn't have taken a backward step, Abdul Qadir, another, that comes to mind possibly spawned shane warne..where has this glorious and colourful band of cricketers gone?

  • moonuranus on October 15, 2011, 6:52 GMT

    Congrats to Pakistan cricket and congrats to you too for writing a column without a sly dig at Indian cricket.

  • HussainKhan on October 15, 2011, 6:16 GMT

    When Butt was appointed, I was one of your first readers to point out that ex-cricketers will not necessarily make good administrators. History speaks for itself.

  • kamranrao on October 14, 2011, 7:56 GMT

    @dear Aftab Awan ... don't blame Muhammad Yousaf,he is one of the great batsman of this era and by the way don't criticise his attitude towards religion that is his personal matter.Butt is rarely found in Pakistan who first destroyed the cricket and then according to him he has built it... totally nonsense and irresponsible behaviour.

  • jay on October 14, 2011, 7:55 GMT

    Totally agree with Kamran about incompetence of Butt, but I still feel that it was a little biased.

  • Imran Ahmed Khan on October 14, 2011, 7:13 GMT

    Perhaps the even worst calamity is Mr. Asif Ali Zardari, the President of Pakistan himself, who also happened to be the Patron in Chief of PCB.

  • Aftab Ahmed Awan on October 14, 2011, 5:42 GMT

    There can be no denying the fact Butt was in competent. But what was the performance of Pakistan during the era of competent fellows like Mr. Tauqeer Zia and mr. Sharyar Khan. During the previous two World Cup Campaigns we were ousted unceremoniously in the first round. During the era of Butt Pakistan won T-2- World Cup, almost won the other two and reached semi final of world cup despite all the turmoil. He got rid of jokers like Muhammad Yousuf who can not make up their mind whether they want to play cricket for Pakistan and go for a Chillah of Tableegh. And speaking of Shahid, do those who support him keep count how many times the guy has retired and came back. We should be fair in our judgements and not totally biased. We should criticize for mistakes and acknowledge the achievements.

  • cric_fan on October 13, 2011, 18:40 GMT

    Mr. Abbasi is clutching at straws here. How can we expect the next whimsical decision by Mr. Zardari to be any better? It's good that Mr. Butt is gone, but the feel good factor ends right there. When you read the revelations/allegations from spot-fixing trial you think players are the main problem, but when you are reminded of Mr. Butt's "karnamey", you think administrators are worse. Result: disenchantment of millions of passionate fans.

    Pakistan cricket needs a Hansie Cronje to bare it all. Shoaib Akhtar where are you!

  • Nauman on October 13, 2011, 17:45 GMT

    To Faisal, I understand where you are coming from but the simple fact is Butt didn't do anything to eliminate player power, that is something he said himself in shameless self promotion. He just suppressed it and only when players questioned the administration. Case and point Butt, Asif, Akmal Brothers, there was nothing done to systematically eliminate lobbying amongst the players. The problem is probably worse now.

  • wajahat on October 13, 2011, 16:30 GMT

    A sincere proposal.... Mohsin Hassan Khan for chairman cum selector cum coach cum manager cum .and if needed and i guess will soon be needed, captain. Lets do this... can happen in Pakistan!!! i hope not.

  • Talat Ali Hamdany on October 13, 2011, 13:25 GMT

    It's too early to sqay that the worst is over when Zardari has appointed his close friend Zaka Ashraf. It seems or not seemsbut is fact that President Zardari only surrounds himself with the likes of Butt and co. or is it that the competent ones are shrewd and stay away from him.

  • Faisal Sami Qadir on October 13, 2011, 12:51 GMT

    quite right.. but i thinku were over aggressive in r critcism... journalism is showing both sides of the picture properly and let the ausience decide.. but here you only showed what u thought was right.. in butt's favour, he has completely eradicated player power. now every player is a working ass fighting for position.. he treated stars disrespectfully, but he even removed the big egos from the dressing rooms... although u mentioning this wouldnt have changed our decision in butt's favour.. but u might have been credied with fair journalism instead..

  • Nikhil on October 13, 2011, 11:41 GMT

    Dont worry all, I am damn sure, M/s Zaka Ashraf & Co., wont disappoint you :)

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  • Nikhil on October 13, 2011, 11:41 GMT

    Dont worry all, I am damn sure, M/s Zaka Ashraf & Co., wont disappoint you :)

  • Faisal Sami Qadir on October 13, 2011, 12:51 GMT

    quite right.. but i thinku were over aggressive in r critcism... journalism is showing both sides of the picture properly and let the ausience decide.. but here you only showed what u thought was right.. in butt's favour, he has completely eradicated player power. now every player is a working ass fighting for position.. he treated stars disrespectfully, but he even removed the big egos from the dressing rooms... although u mentioning this wouldnt have changed our decision in butt's favour.. but u might have been credied with fair journalism instead..

  • Talat Ali Hamdany on October 13, 2011, 13:25 GMT

    It's too early to sqay that the worst is over when Zardari has appointed his close friend Zaka Ashraf. It seems or not seemsbut is fact that President Zardari only surrounds himself with the likes of Butt and co. or is it that the competent ones are shrewd and stay away from him.

  • wajahat on October 13, 2011, 16:30 GMT

    A sincere proposal.... Mohsin Hassan Khan for chairman cum selector cum coach cum manager cum .and if needed and i guess will soon be needed, captain. Lets do this... can happen in Pakistan!!! i hope not.

  • Nauman on October 13, 2011, 17:45 GMT

    To Faisal, I understand where you are coming from but the simple fact is Butt didn't do anything to eliminate player power, that is something he said himself in shameless self promotion. He just suppressed it and only when players questioned the administration. Case and point Butt, Asif, Akmal Brothers, there was nothing done to systematically eliminate lobbying amongst the players. The problem is probably worse now.

  • cric_fan on October 13, 2011, 18:40 GMT

    Mr. Abbasi is clutching at straws here. How can we expect the next whimsical decision by Mr. Zardari to be any better? It's good that Mr. Butt is gone, but the feel good factor ends right there. When you read the revelations/allegations from spot-fixing trial you think players are the main problem, but when you are reminded of Mr. Butt's "karnamey", you think administrators are worse. Result: disenchantment of millions of passionate fans.

    Pakistan cricket needs a Hansie Cronje to bare it all. Shoaib Akhtar where are you!

  • Aftab Ahmed Awan on October 14, 2011, 5:42 GMT

    There can be no denying the fact Butt was in competent. But what was the performance of Pakistan during the era of competent fellows like Mr. Tauqeer Zia and mr. Sharyar Khan. During the previous two World Cup Campaigns we were ousted unceremoniously in the first round. During the era of Butt Pakistan won T-2- World Cup, almost won the other two and reached semi final of world cup despite all the turmoil. He got rid of jokers like Muhammad Yousuf who can not make up their mind whether they want to play cricket for Pakistan and go for a Chillah of Tableegh. And speaking of Shahid, do those who support him keep count how many times the guy has retired and came back. We should be fair in our judgements and not totally biased. We should criticize for mistakes and acknowledge the achievements.

  • Imran Ahmed Khan on October 14, 2011, 7:13 GMT

    Perhaps the even worst calamity is Mr. Asif Ali Zardari, the President of Pakistan himself, who also happened to be the Patron in Chief of PCB.

  • jay on October 14, 2011, 7:55 GMT

    Totally agree with Kamran about incompetence of Butt, but I still feel that it was a little biased.

  • kamranrao on October 14, 2011, 7:56 GMT

    @dear Aftab Awan ... don't blame Muhammad Yousaf,he is one of the great batsman of this era and by the way don't criticise his attitude towards religion that is his personal matter.Butt is rarely found in Pakistan who first destroyed the cricket and then according to him he has built it... totally nonsense and irresponsible behaviour.