October 13, 2009

Stupidity of staggering proportions

After a recent and fairly commendable upturn in fortunes, once again Pakistan shoots itself and watches bemused as the world sniggers

The absolute stupidity of this whole situation is staggering. An Indian journalist writes a particularly incendiary report after Pakistan's semi-final loss to New Zealand in the Champions Trophy, claiming there was more to the defeat than meets the eye. The report was immediately shot down by the ICC and soon after by the newspaper itself.

But the germ had been planted. Pakistan, match-fixing, and so a chain of events, even before the tournament was over, was becoming increasingly predictable: the report would be picked up by Pakistan's hyperactive media, big on headlines and poor on detail, some political personalities would get involved, hearings would be called, intrigue would be added, a captain already averse to precisely this would decide he had had enough. Wham, bam, thank you, latest controversy dealt with, let's move on to another.

To the letter, this is what has happened. The chairman of the National Assembly's standing committee on sports, Jamshed Dasti, first told every TV channel and news agency that he thought the matches were fixed and promised a committee hearing and investigation into it. The next day he denied ever making any such allegation, claiming instead that people in general were saying so. At the hearing he told Younis Khan he had not been called in to announce his resignation. After the hearing, Dasti told TV channels that, thankfully, the allegations of match-fixing were totally unfounded. The stupidity of it all is much too much to bear. It will not be surprising if it doesn't happen, but it won't be right either if Dasti's role in all this is not held to account. And now many will make the lazy assumption, pointing to Younis' previous with captaincy, his ethnicity, and tut-tut and say that he has done "a Younis", that he is emotional, temperamental and all that. He shouldn't have resigned, or done so in this way. All points have merit but the main point will be missed. It cannot be a good thing to have led your country to the World Twenty20 title and the semi-finals of the Champions Trophy - the only country, by the way, to have reached the last four in both tournaments - and still have your own countrymen suspect you of match-fixing, to ask you, to tell you that it is so. And these are not just allegations of factions in teams, or about your own performances: these are serious allegations against your person and integrity. Rightly, Younis should not have to put up with this pathetic nonsense, stuff that was barely credible to start with. Many captains in the past have had to put up with it and it is something they should not have had to put up with. A whole nation, a people, a culture, stands to be blamed.

Younis should not have to put up with this pathetic nonsense. Many captains in the past have had to put up with it and it is something they should not have had to put up with. A whole nation, a people, a culture, stands to be blamed

This being Pakistan, though, it cannot be as simple - or not - as just that. To the stupidity we must add the conspiracy and intrigue. So comes in the name of Shahid Afridi, vice-captain in ODIs and Twenty20 captain. The PCB chairman, Ijaz Butt, met Afridi a few days ago in Lahore. On the agenda, it has been rumoured, was the topic of the ODI leadership, though Afridi and Butt denied it. Butt said later he only wanted to discuss the Champions Trophy performances with Afridi. This is fine, except the natural person to do that with would be the captain, would it not?

In fact, those close to Younis are keen to point out Afridi's angling for the post, though in fairness Afridi has always publicly and regularly backed his captain - and has performed as such to prove it. Younis' fractured finger and poor form further complicate matters, and the PCB's dithering on his inclusion for the New Zealand series is precisely the kind of incompetence that wasn't needed. Now all kinds of things are flying around: the team's Punjab lobby has played its hand, Younis has done it as part of a bigger plan, Afridi has meddled; the truth may be everywhere and nowhere but mess is everywhere.

After a recent and fairly commendable upturn in fortunes, once again Pakistan shoots itself and watches bemused as the world sniggers. This year, which has seen international cricket taken away from the country for the forseeable future, has also seen success on the field and off it, with the unearthing of some exciting new batting and bowling talent. Younis' captaincy and his side have been much admired globally for again becoming compelling to watch; to most observers, Younis was the most fascinating personality at the Champions Trophy - endearingly honest, open and refreshing. Broadly speaking, he was thought to be a good, calming influence on the side. That message seems not to have reached Pakistan.

Osman Samiuddin is Pakistan editor of Cricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Mohammad on October 16, 2009, 20:15 GMT

    Dear Osman, I agree that Younis Khan's resignation decision may have been spurred on by the match-fixing media hype (mostly Indian media). But, if you look at Younis Khan's performance in the Champions Trophy, he was the lowest run scorer for Pakistan. So, the fact is that he is not in good form, and in all honesty, is not well suited to the one-day game. He might be a burden for the Pakistan team at the crucial # 3 spot. He does have some technical flaws in playing run-scoring shots, but he is a great asset for Pakistan in the Test matches (for his excellent temperament).

    I believe Pakistan won the T20 WC not so much because of Younis' captaincy, but more because of individual talent. I think a captain needs to lead from the front, like Inzamam or Imran Khan. Younis is a great individual no doubt, but I think Shahid Afridi will be a better captain for Pakistan's ODI and T20 side, because he is a natural leader and is very active on the field (which was seen in CT).

  • Jawad on October 16, 2009, 20:09 GMT

    younis is a rare kind in an age...

    1. where batsmen average around 40 and he is going further down from 33.

    2. where a good strike rate is considered around 80 or 90. His is about 76.

    3. In 2009 his bating average is 24.88 in 16 matches. He has ODI avergae of 15 against Aussies & 25 against RSA... which means he has boosted his average against less competitive teams.

    4. He managed to score his first century against Hong Kong after about 100 innings period spanning over 4 years. The remaing 5 centuries are against india, england and west indies.

    5. His best ODI averages are against Kenya 123, Hong Kong 105 and Zimbabwe 47.

    6. He scored 5 out of 6 centuries on dead asian pitches.

    7. As a captain he almost loose two games after each win.

    8. He has not led by example and does not enjoy the support of his team.

    9. He is man of the match 13 times in 188 innings (3 against Zimbabwe & another against kenya).

    It would be stupidity to compare him with some other captains. right Osman?

  • K. on October 16, 2009, 5:02 GMT

    I didnt even read the article, just the title and summary- couldnt agree more.

  • Ayaz on October 15, 2009, 12:56 GMT

    The corrupt politicians are never summoned in the National Assembly, then why the cricketers are? That's Ridiculous!

  • Rajasundram on October 15, 2009, 8:11 GMT

    Dear Osman You hit the nail on the head - but it should have been on the head of the politicians and those who shout 'corruption' whenever Pakistan loses. Younous was decent enough to play - even with a finger injury, because if he did not play there would be other accusations against him. Play they accuse him, don't play also they will accuse him, but nobody will say that before the match - always after the match because hindsight is the only sight they have. Younus, a decent cricketer (in every sense of the word) must have had it - otherwise he would not want to give up the captaincy. I have never met him, but judging from the way he reacts, he is proud to a Pakistani and to captain Pakistan - but he is also a Proud man and can only stomach so much nonsense. If he has to be summoned, they must have some doubts. That is not fair, to a man who has given 100% all his life to Pakistan cricket. These fairweather politicians be replaced Siva from Singapore

  • Mujeeb on October 15, 2009, 7:33 GMT

    Come on Younus, the whole nation is with you. Stand erect and fight but what you did was an extreme. You are the best captain Pakistan has ever had after the previous Khan (Imran).

  • Vinod on October 15, 2009, 6:19 GMT

    I have understood that Younus is one of the very few gentlemen ever played for Pakistan. the allegations against him seems to have been cooked up. Cricket has remained so far as an inspiring game (inspite of corruptions and allegations) just because of a very few inspiring players, and undoubtedly Younus is one. Although Imran remains the best captain ever for Pak, Younus was different in his approach. He is caring and gentle and has shown his class on the field. Whenever he played aggressive innings against my country, I just watched with a wry smile and that was out of my fondness for him. My suggestion for him is: "Younus, you move forward. You still have more heights to achieve. Its just a testing time of your life but soon you will see the world on your side" - Mark my words.

  • Simon on October 15, 2009, 4:00 GMT

    The whole mess is a very sorry state of affairs. Unfortunately in most countries, the number one sport of choice is always politicised and used for the gain of other than those playing it. We have similar issues in NZ with rugby but thankfully our country does not share the same level of instability. With any allegation firstly you must have some evidence that the rules have been broken and suspicion because someone drops and easy catch (which happens in at least every second game) is simply not sufficient. HSKADRI is right, on the day they were outplayed by a committed NZ side. Also at the time Elliot was dropped he was plodding along slowly and doesnt have much of a history of big hitting, so how could Younis have predicted what elliot was to do in the next few overs. Simple answer was he couldnt.

  • James on October 15, 2009, 1:48 GMT

    C'mon. You are taking this too seriously. Nobody takes resignation from a Pakistani captain seriously. Everybody knows that he'll take back the resignation after meeting with the PCB chairman or after getting a call from the President. You are from Pakistan, you should know how things work there. I'd say, just chill and enjoy the show.

  • Haroon on October 14, 2009, 22:43 GMT

    Why isn't anyone questioning the "retracted" words of the writer who is the origin of this catastrophe? I am yet to come across that "journalist" to be criticized. Should that person not be terminated from his responsibilities? How about the paper publicly apologizes to the Pakistani cricketers for the ill information that have spread in the cricket world? As far as I know that writer was representing that paper, any employer at the end of the day takes the blame for such mishaps, at least in civilized societies they do. Moreoever what are politicians doing in sports events, what is the PCB for, isn't conflict resoluation concerning cricket affairs THEIR job? How about the politicians focus on what they NEED to, and that is to look after the country, not getting entangled in issues as such. As a cricket fan, I don't think Younis Khan should resign, because Pakistan needs him as a leader, and who knows maybe thats what the "respected" writer wanted too.

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