Pakistan's inquiry committee report March 10, 2010

What of the punishers?

The players have been singled out for punishment, but the managers, selectors and board officials who run the show have sidestepped the mess nicely

The immediate point that comes to mind is, who gave the PCB the keys to this asylum? The merits and demerits of what is effectively the biggest purge of the Pakistan cricket team in years we will come to shortly but, in effect, the PCB has cleaned up an asylum in which its members are as much inmates as the players.

The basic question that arises, after all, is if the team is racked with unrest, indiscipline and factionalism and is performing so poorly, is it operating within a vacuum? It is not. It is selected by men and run by men, men of the board. If the team is rotten, then are the people who are in charge of running it not the same? The players have been singled out, but the managers, selectors and board officials who run the show have sidestepped the mess nicely.

If you can get beyond that, then there is no questioning that this is the most significant action the PCB has taken in many years against players. In one fell swoop, it has banned three men who captained the side last year. Of them, two have been handed open-ended bans, to be revised at the board's discretion. Another captain has been put on probation for six months and fined, as has the vice-captain of the last tour. Reputations and seniority have not been spared. The Qayyum report was similar, implicating big names, but that was for a graver offence and was shaped globally; on matters such as indiscipline, the actions are unparalleled.

A number of things have fuelled the severity of the punishment. Pressure on the board to do something, anything, has been intense, more so because of its general ineptness and failures elsewhere. It had to be seen to be doing something, and a man can only take so many grillings from parliamentarians.

But such dirt has built up over the last year. Shoaib Malik was removed. Under his replacement Younis Khan, players were forever conspiring. Mohammad Yousuf became captain only to ultimately engage in an open and stupid battle with Malik. The sins of Kamran Akmal and Shahid Afridi were public ones.

Additionally, results have been pathetic. Players' popularity is probably at its lowest in some time, which undoubtedly helped the board in its decision. So steadily, over the years, such a picture of unrest and unruliness, factionalism and unchecked player power has emerged, and such a mood of discontent created, that all dirt had to be swept away. The official board line, that it wants to set an example for future generations, almost doesn't matter. The reaction is mixed: some voices say it had to happen, some say it's too much, as clear an indication as any that there are no heroes here. In fact there are mostly villains.

Trouble lies in the days ahead. Because the punishments are so severe, the reasons behind them must be made clear. The board is not willing to go public with the report, but that will be grave folly. If the PCB is not seen to be transparent in the way it has handled this, its actions have no benefit whatsoever.

Questions will be rightly asked as to the precise factors that led, in particular, to the banning of Rana Naved-ul-Hasan and Malik for a year and of Younis and Yousuf for an indefinite period. That kind of punishment is prompted only by the most serious transgressions and if the board doesn't come totally clean on what led to it, rumour-mongering and gossip over coming days of the worst kind can be expected. That, Pakistan cricket can do without. Already there is confusion; the bans on Yousuf and Younis, the board had to clarify, are open-ended and they can be picked again depending on the board's mood.

Talk of legal action is inevitable; such are the happy days with an empowered judiciary and legal fraternity. In any case it has not been uncommon over the last two years for Pakistani players to take the board to court and it cannot be ruled out here. It will be a waste of time, for even if a court overturns the ban, it cannot force the board to select players.

Nothing is permanent in Pakistan. It is worthwhile to bear in mind the summer of 1976, when a similar battle erupted between board and senior players. It was a petty pay dispute, but it soon flowered into an almighty ménage a trois of ego clashes between the country's prime minister, Zulfiqar Bhutto, a close aide and minister Abdul Hafiz Pirzada and the board chairman AH Kardar.

Kardar sacked six big names, including Imran Khan, before a major tour to Australia. Within days, however, Pirzada - with Bhutto's tacit consent - had taken temporary control of the board, reinstated the players and Kardar fell in a matter of months. Old folks say that marked the beginning of unchecked player power in Pakistan cricket, the rise of the superstar. Some might see 2010 as the end of it.

There are only whiffs in today of what happened 34 years ago - for one, the players then had tremendous public support - but with an administration as bereft of goodwill, public trust and support as this one, nobody will bet against a similar endgame.

Osman Samiuddin is Pakistan editor of Cricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Aquil on March 16, 2010, 7:40 GMT

    We know Players power was one of the major factor of Pakistan team poor performance in Australia. Let me remind that Australian tour was always a disaster for Pakistan team even when we were touring with very big names in the team. Current team was a most weakest team of all time. The tour result was on the card.The media openness to anyone passing his comments is also a major factor for running a fragile Cricket Business in the country into chaos. Since we are not improving in any thing of our country's affairs, how can we expect our sports will improve other way round. Our sportsmen know we have a very weak infrastructure and low financed Administration. All the sportsmen in their own capacity, should build their stamina and physique by making themselves a very good Athlete first then they should improve their respective sport. They should always maintain good eye sight and very good reflexes and controlled breathing. I am sure this kind of team will be successful in future.

  • n on March 16, 2010, 3:03 GMT

    Being a staunch players supporter, I feel shame today after hearing the statements from senators that some of our key players are involve in match fixing, as Senator added that they have solid and irrefutable audio video proof. I commend senators for being honest and blunt as nothing is above our national pride.These crooks must be punished hard and sevearally, so their is a lesson for future players.Had we been so hard at our ex heroes, we would have not been discussing this today.These so called heroes bring glory for a moment, and very next minute they are negotiating deals with bookies, only because they feel there is no accountibility for moral or legal violatiions and they can easily hide their black money in Pakistan without fear of revenue dept.Just look at their ex coleauges, few of thems life style is beyond their means, their investments in real estate and tangible assets are enough to vouch their guilt. Destiny of such thieves is behind bars but perhaps not in pakistan.

  • Muhammad on March 15, 2010, 20:20 GMT

    Is Ijaz Butt a poor person? Can't he get another job? Being a brother-in-law of a defence minsiter is no qualification to be on this post and make some stupid decisions. The favouritism of the board and incomptenecy of the captains gave rise to players power. Younis khan was unable to perform at all during his captaincy and always blamed senior players (he was the most senior after yousuf). He was even reluctant to applaud young players. What happened in australia was nothing special. We have been achieving the same results with our legendary bowlers and batsmen in the past. Before going to australia & newzealand, we were not actually sure about the batting order and bowling options. The board should not take any stupid step and should retain yousuf as test and ODI captain and appoint afridi as T20 captain as team needs to fine tuned by big head batting coach ratrher than a big belly one. Sometimes, I feel that PCB is more interested in accomodating the retired old crickters.

  • Dummy4 on March 14, 2010, 10:02 GMT

    Indiscipline, erratic personal behaviour, drugs addiction and things of such un-cricketic chores have been the hallmark of the Pakistani cricket during the recent years. As such, the decision of the Pakistan Cricket Board to punish some of the players is timely and relevant. I wonder where are those golden days of Pakistani cricket that saw millions of fans across the cricketing world ralling around the team with pride. It's time for the PCB to reign in the erratic elements. I wish God-sppeed in this venture.

  • Dummy4 on March 12, 2010, 13:33 GMT

    Another blunder for PCB ...... They don't have any management skill .... PCB is now more like a school .... punish n fines on every disciplinary action ... I would say, Punishing players for PCB mismanagement. I would support the Players !

  • Muddassar on March 12, 2010, 12:31 GMT

    Ijaz butt only wants to make Salman Butt captain , so , he is clearing his way , S Butt is not t20 player but he is selected and in coming days he is also announced as captain.

    The changes which should occur in PCB are not these player changes but changes should be removal of Ijaz butt, Wasim Bari, Intikhab Alam, Zakir Khan which are also involved of " No Cricket In Pakistan".

    They are involved in attack on SL team

  • yasser on March 12, 2010, 10:27 GMT

    Salam , part 1 The decision of Life ban on Muhammad yusuf and younus khan was quite upsetting .Why they were life banned because of following reasons:

    1-Younus made a mistake to leading our team through victory in Twenty twenty world cup 2- He made the team as one unit 3-his fault was that he is honest and always played for country pride 4-HE resigned when match fixing remarks were given in standing committee 5- He did not ask for the captaincy and he was given it by board by asking him to do it for pakistan .. He accepted that putting aside his own pride. 6-Then he was framed in all this so nicely that he dropped himself from the team as he was not in form ..telll me the one captain in history of pakistan who ever did this

  • Dost on March 12, 2010, 7:20 GMT

    The punishers deserve severe punishment. They brought nation the biggest humiliation.

  • Dummy4 on March 12, 2010, 7:16 GMT

    wrong wrong wrong decision who will take accountabilty of ijaz butt ,wasim barriand other mnanagement of pakistan cricket team. they destroy the pakistan team every time the players is banned the managment his give safe is cruelty with star players.the cricket board chairman should be accountabale because he destroy the team.

  • ratee on March 12, 2010, 5:46 GMT

    This is how we treat our heroes and then we let the rulers destroy whatever is left of cricket and then we appreciate what has been done. What a sadistic and pathetic nature of some people.

    Lets see when the results come of the 20/20 world cup then what will happen to the board when they lose to Bangladesh or Ireland type of team??? Then some people will be happy teaching the cricketers a lesson. When will we learn they have cut the face and nose of these innocent cricketers. These villains that are ruling cricket in Pakistan please kick them out of PCB to save Pakistan from relegated to third of fourth tier type of team!!!

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