Pakistan news November 17, 2013

Misbah interview raises questions on Sethi's role


In what can be charitably termed a bizarre occurrence, the PCB head Najam Sethi donned his other hat as a journalist on Saturday night and interviewed Pakistan's captain Misbah-ul-Haq on his popular political show, Aapas ki Baat.

Sethi asked Misbah all the questions a growing number of critics have been asking as the team has stumbled its way through the limited-overs leg of the South Africa series in the UAE: about the general troubles Pakistan has been having with the batting, about Misbah's own approach and the influence it has had on younger batsmen, about Misbah's preferences for specific combinations and his inability to win games. Misbah answered whatever came his way.

But the very fact that a sitting board head was using his own alternative platform as a journalist to allow a captain is bound to raise further questions about the conflict of interest inherent in Sethi's dual roles. There is nothing amiss about a chairman defending a captain of the side: as one cricket official pointed out, the Pakistan board could have recorded an in-house interview with Misbah and put it up on its website.

"The selection committee and I as PCB chairman continue to back Misbah as captain despite the usual critics," Sethi told ESPNcricinfo. "He spoke to the media in Lahore earlier and was grilled by them. But his critics raised fresh questions, which is fair enough. So he was given a chance on my live show to answer his critics. This is a more effective way of communicating than putting something on a website.

"I don't see anything wrong in this. Some perennial naysayers say there is a conflict of interest. I say this was in the public interest. I personally gained nothing from it. But cricket fans have been reassured that there is more to the story than put out by some people. Surely this is good for the motivation and cohesion of the Pakistan Cricket Team."

But to use the platform of one of Pakistan's most popular channels, when the chairman happens to be one of its leading anchors, brings back those very questions that were asked when, for example, Geo Super (one of the channels of the network) was awarded broadcast rights to Pakistan's series against Sri Lanka in the UAE next month. At the time, Sethi dismissed accusations of a conflict by claiming that the bidding process was fair and was carried out by a neutral, independent arbitrator in the form of former ICC President Ehsan Mani.

Some perennial naysayers say there is a conflict of interest. I say this was in the public interest. I personally gained nothing from it.
Najam Sethi, the acting PCB chairman

Sethi's own position as head of the Interim Management Committee (IMC) - and de facto board head - that is currently running the board is on shaky ground. The PCB is the subject of a convoluted and ongoing legal dispute in the Islamabad High Court (IHC) in which one judge has repeatedly tried to disband the board and bring in a new chairman via an election process. Essentially Sethi's administration is existing on borrowed time, from one court date to the next: the next hearing is in the first week of December.

Such a stunt is unlikely to have gone unnoticed by critics, or, in this case, petitioners who have filed cases against him. Sethi himself is ambiguous about his dual roles. In Abu Dhabi recently, he was asked at a press conference whether he intended to stay on as the board head once the legal mess was over. His reply, particularly its denouement, was telling.

"I was asked by the Prime Minister (Nawaz Sharif) to come and clean up this mess," he said of his appointment in June this year. "I had no idea how deep this mess was. I am only now beginning to understand it. But the more one understands it the more one realises a, how important it is to clear up this mess and b, it's not really cricket, cricket is part of nationalism now. So therefore if the courts allow me and the PM insists that I carry on, I will try and do my best. But at the end of the day I am still a media man."

Similar conflicts of interest have arisen in the past, though never at the apex administrative level within the PCB. During the tenures of Tauqir Zia and Shaharyar Khan in the early 2000s, for example, Ramiz Raja and Aamer Sohail held senior positions in the board while also working as TV commentators (Sohail, briefly, was chief selector and a commentator). Ultimately Raja resigned because of the conflict while Sohail was removed for other reasons.

Umar Farooq is ESPNcricinfo's Pakistan correspondent. He tweets here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on November 20, 2013, 20:16 GMT

    I am tired of seeing this picture on every article. Can Cricinfo or the writer or someone please change Najam Sethi's picture from the articles to something else i am sure there are few more of his decent pictures to post with the articles.

  • Dummy4 on November 19, 2013, 18:06 GMT

    I am sick of seeing mediocre Selection committee members selecting mediocre team players its just sickening to Watch any longer. Nor young players are selected on merit nor the selection committee members itself are there on merit nor do they have credibility to make good changes, they probably don't even understand the word " merit ". What they love is Imran Farhat kinds or his brother Humayun Farhat or maybe they love Akmal Family its just about their love with anyone and everyone they like whom will get selected into the team and players with credible domestic performances just wonder and what else can they do. Now days they are more in love with Umar Amin, Mohammad Hafiz , Ahmed Shehzad , Asad Shafiq ; one may ask how to justify they dont deserve to be in the side then compare there domestic records with other players for ODI matches example Azhar Ali,Fawad Alam , Khurram Manzoor, Khalid Latif ,Taufeeq Umar (TOP T20 PLAYER IN DOMESTICS not given single chance) ,Faisal Iqbal etcc

  • Imran on November 19, 2013, 17:50 GMT

    why the peoples are support Misbha he is just a batsman...not a good Captain and finisher as well..becoz he dont now about how to finish the game...why dont we go with afridi his leadership is too strong as campare to misbha if board wari about afridi just chek his captincy record he never lose any series...except world cups...

  • Dummy4 on November 19, 2013, 14:45 GMT

    Bring in as replacements Khalid Latif batting average 48 & Azhar Ali average 41 in International ODI and domestic batting average 50 AND whereas your both openers which is Ahmed Shehzad batting average is (28 internationals and Domestic 34) & Hafeez has batting average of (29 in internationals and domestics 34) so mediocre averages for International team openers really lack of taste to select players it can only be putting hands in front of eyes & then selecting unfortunately for Pakistan.Instead of Umar Amin who's domestic batting average is 32 bring in fawad alam batting average 46 or khurram manzoor batting average 46.People who have performed in domestic level shown by their domestic batting averages should be given long-run for trial & error if they will succeed at that level or not but instead mediocre players with mediocre domestic averages are given long-run with their mediocre international averages show the outcome of this phenomena & fans cry like babies due to this reasons.

  • zaf on November 19, 2013, 14:40 GMT

    PAK can't win until these players are in team; Professor, Mr. tuktuk, Asad Safiq, Sohail Tanvir who doing nothing for PAK cricket.

  • jhg on November 19, 2013, 13:12 GMT

    All-rounders Shoaib Malik and Abdul Razzaq have been ruled out of this series against South Africa due to respective finger and hamtring injuries. Sharjeel Khan and Hammad Azam as replacement. ( Geo News )

  • Ata on November 19, 2013, 11:53 GMT

    @Hassan Ahmed: But SA tour, Champions trophy, Zimbabwe tour, and again SA tour have lot of things to do with Misbah being a captain. ..Well in WC 2011, how could you say we had better team? except Shoaib Akhtar all the players are still available. and in 2011 WC Shoaib Akhtar was not in his best. As your concern about strange reason why Younis Khan is dropped? answer is simple Captain don't want him, like hafeez didn't want Razzaq. and how Umer Amin is playing continuously in playing 11? do you think it is possible without Captain consent? Why hafeez is playing up-order in ODI? is it possible for a player to play wherever he want? Without captain being agree and support to him?... Now they are trying their best to keep Umer Akmal lower the order, they do not care, Pakistan win or lose, They just want to secure their positions.

  • Dummy4 on November 19, 2013, 11:23 GMT

    Misbah is a good batsman but his captaincy skills are zero.

  • Usman on November 19, 2013, 10:04 GMT

    I strongly believe that Misbah is arguably the best batsman at the moment in Pakistan for ODIs n Test matches. He has the ability to bat long and hard. But the problem lies in his captaincy. His approach is defensive and negative and this adds a bad effect on other batsmen too. The batsmen are following his approach and hence not playing their natural game. Same set of batsmen have produced if not good but above average performances time n again. But since last one year, no exceptional performance..time to think about the approach and we should remove Misbah as a captain. But he should remain as a batsman in the playing 11 till WC 2015.

  • Dummy4 on November 19, 2013, 9:46 GMT

    @ bouncer709 , there is nothing to do with Misbah in T20s at the moment because he is not the part of T20 team. In WC2011 we had a better team and this is the reason we reached the semi-final. At the moment no one is scoring runs and this is not the fault of Misbah's captaincy. We should have Younis Khan in the ODI team to have some stability but for some strange reason he has been kept out of the team.

  • No featured comments at the moment.