Spot-fixing controversy September 7, 2010

Ijaz Butt hides from crisis - Geoff Lawson

Cricinfo staff

Geoff Lawson, the former Australian fast bowler and Pakistan coach, has criticised the PCB and its chairman, Ijaz Butt, for failing to provide the strong leadership that the country's cricket needs during "one of its biggest challenges."

"Even through this crisis we have heard virtually nothing from their chairman," Lawson said on ESPNcricinfo's audio show Time Out. "He hides from a crisis, he is not a leader and when Pakistan need a strong leader and people to show them the way forward, they are not getting it from their board."

Lawson said before the appointment of Butt, Pakistan cricket had in place detailed long-term plans to develop the game from the grassroots up. "There were 10 and 15 year plans, plans to build regional cricket academies, fitness, fitness trainers, physios and stocking gyms with better equipment and better pay for the first-class players."

Things in Pakistan changed after Butt took charge, Lawson said. "After the elections in 2008, it took some months with their hung parliament to appoint a new chairman and Ijaz Butt was appointed and really, I just see from that instant, there has been a decline in Pakistan cricket."

Before the spot fixing controversy, Butt's tenure coincided with the Lahore attack on the Sri Lankan team, the refusal by other countries to tour Pakistan, several captaincy changes, the fallout of the Australia tour with match-fixing and disciplinary charges being levelled on players and deteriorating relations with the ICC.

Last week, Test captain Salman Butt and fast bowlers Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Amir were charged under the ICC's anti-corruption code and provisionally suspended from the game while their case is being heard. However, Lawson said Salman Butt had done a great job with a young side since being appointed captain of Pakistan and that he would be shocked if Salman Butt turned out to be at the center of the spot-fixing scandal.

"If it is the case that these young players are being affected, then there is something very bad with the environment in which Pakistan cricket is being played in."

Given the stakes, Lawson said the current crisis is the greatest Pakistan cricket has faced, and unlike previous crises, the team will not have the opportunity to mend fences by playing matches at home once things calm down.

"The hearings on Asif, Amir and Salman will be extremely important," he said. "I hope against hope that things will turn out alright but this is very much a watershed for Pakistan cricket right now."