October 18, 1999

Ad-hocism in cricket over the decades

Brig (Retd) Salahuddin

Pakistan cricket has the unique distinction in the world on two counts. First, the Pakistan's heads of state have been involved in the affairs of its management either as President or patrons. This system goes as far back as Mohammed Ali Bogra, Prime Minister of Pakistan who was President of BCCP from 1954 to 1956. President Iskandar Mirza and FM Ayub Khan followed him till 1963 when first Ad hoc Committee adopted formal constitution in 1963. Since then presidents of Pakistan have remained "Patrons" of cricket supreme body. Secondly, the Pakistan cricket management has gone through Ad hoc arrangement four times in its history. No other major cricket playing country can match this record.

Presently, the Pakistan cricket is experiencing the fourth Ad hoc committee rule since 17th July this year. The purpose of appointing an ad hoc committee, by authorities concerned, to replace an elected body, is an extreme step and indicates something drastically wrong with the dissolved body. Normally, such committees are given specific tasks and a time frame to work its way through clearing the mess. This time neither is made clear in the order. This is the first time that the major regional cricket associations have reacted in a manner as never before and a legal battle between various cricket associations and the Ad hoc committee is going on in the courts at Lahore, Karachi and Hyderabad.

Before discussing the present committees' performance, it is pertinent to review, briefly, what Ad hoc committee imposed earlier had done for Pakistan's cricket. The first Ad hoc committee was appointed in September, 1960 with Justice A.R. Cornelius as its chairman. It remained in charge of cricket affairs till May 1963. During its tenure Justice Cornelius' committee gave the formal constitution for the Board of Control for Cricket in Pakistan known as BCCP. This constitution created a cricket body based on four provincial cricket associations and major government departments whose representatives formed the executive council. This constitution remained functional till 1978. The constitution drafted by Justice Cornelius proved workable and formidable and saw two long tenures of Mr S. Fida Hussain and Mr A.H. Kardar. The unfortunate revolt of the players against Mr A.H. Kardar in 1978 brought down not only Mr Kardar but also the cricket body.

The second Ad hoc committee replaced the BCCP Council and the general body in June 1978 with Lt Gen (Retd) K.M. Azhar as its chairman. It remained functional till Feb, 1980. This committee changed the Justice Cornelius constitution by eliminating provincial associations and allowing divisional and city cricket association to become members of the council. The two cricket centres, Lahore and Karachi thus became major power holders of general body and council seats. In fact the clause that allowed city associations to have one member each for every 65 clubs gave rise to enrolment of bogus clubs to get more seats in general body. The committee also carried out for the first time scrutiny of clubs all over the country in 1979 which, to say the least, was very liberal. The constitution framed by this committee remained controversial but lasted till 1994 when the third Ad hoc committee took over.

The third Ad hoc committee with Mr Javed Burki as its chairman, took over BCCP affairs in Jan, 1994. This committee gave yet another revised constitution changing its character on corporate lines and giving it a new name Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB). It introduced a chairman and paid CEO with vast powers like the president of previous boards. It also gave power to 'Patron' to appoint chairman, CEO and treasurer all at his discretion. General body and council were retained as before. This committee also took a major decision of fresh scrutiny of all clubs affiliated to various associations. A retired major general was appointed to conduct the scrutiny which was being done after 1979. Zonal sub-committees were formed to perform an un-biased scrutiny. This author was the president of scrutiny committee for Sindh and Karachi clubs. The Ad hoc committee was supposed to have fresh elections based on this report to form general body and council. Unfortunately, this never happened for reasons best known to PCB authorities. The first major "match fixing" and "betting" upheaval came to light during Pakistan's' dismal tour to South Africa and Zimbabwe under the captainship of Salim Malik.

The present committee has taken over the cricket management on 17th July, this year. The main cause of its appointment as published in the press was gross mismanagement by previous setup. But for this, was an Ad hoc committee needed? Whether replacing the previous chairman and appointment of new CEO (which was already due) would have achieved the purpose without disturbing the whole structure? Anyway, one has to find the answer in the intentions and various actions taken by this committee.

In conclusion one can say that Ad hocism in any organisation, let alone Pakistan cricket is neither desirable nor solution to all problems and ills. There has to be sincere effort to replace this system with permanent constitutional setup. For this some bold steps have to be taken, keeping Pakistan cricket's interest supreme. The power and freedom which the present Ad hoc committee enjoys can be utilised towards imparting constitutional stability to Pakistan cricket management through justice, fairplay and accountability.

The writer of this article is chairman election/scrutiny committee of the Board.