May 21, 2010

A new low, even for Pakistan

The aftermath of the leaked video reveals to what depths Pakistan's players have fallen

No longer should there be doubts that the current batch of players are among the most pathetic characters to have represented Pakistan. The leaked video of the PCB's inquiry committee hearings has simply confirmed, and put incontrovertibly and forever on the greatest mirror of our times, television, what many already knew: that this band of senior players care not for anything but themselves, that they cannot be captained by anyone, that they are governed by their greed for power and that they will, most shockingly, deliberately underperform to undermine their captain. Pathetic is barely condemnation.

This has been the way since Inzamam-ul-Haq left: so much factionalism, so many groups with different interests that nobody even remembers who is on whose side anymore. Shoaib Malik is a central figure.

He has been ably supported by men such as Salman Butt, Misbah-ul-Haq, Kamran Akmal and a handful of others, including even managers such as Yawar Saeed. What their aim has ever been is not certain, other than reinstating Malik as captain.

Shahid Afridi and Mohammad Yousuf have brought their own agendas. Afridi was used - or chose to be used - by Malik's lot in trying to bring down Younis Khan as captain. Yousuf's one-point agenda, meanwhile, has been to get rid of Malik somehow, with whom he has publicly rowed since 2007. Younis has had, what the master of the non-answer, Intikhab Alam, called, his own issues.

Two captains, Younis and Yousuf, have publicly said their players were actively trying to uproot them. The most shocking parts of the video - and there are enough - are Rana Naved-ul-Hasan's happy confessions of first siding against and then siding with Younis, and underperforming under him. He says it with unrepentant, shocking candour.

When Younis was captain, up to eight players met (typically, there are conflicting reports over where, and thus, how many times) to take an oath of allegiance to not play under him. An oath of allegiance to not play under him: nothing better captures the stench of these men than this, a quasi-official act of loyalty in the ultimate cause of disloyalty. There is so much distrust that they don't even trust each other to unite in the face of a common enemy unless an allegiance is shamefully made to higher authorities. Less bitchiness will be found in a season of either Gossip Girl or Pakistan's parliament.

So intense has been the infighting and factionalism that it shocked a member even of the coaching set-up on the Australia tour, one fully involved in the bad days of the 90s, when there were more captains in any XI than players. But in those days, he said, once they were on the field such differences were put aside so that matches could be won (at least, the blighted history of this country's cricket forces us to recall, those matches that weren't fixed). That was evident in results from the decade.

Up to eight players met to take an oath of allegiance to not play under Younis. Nothing better captures the stench of these men than this, a quasi-official act of loyalty in the ultimate cause of disloyalty

Younger players, such as Umar Akmal and Mohammad Aamer, are being drawn in. Their talent will never fail them but their personalities will. The younger Akmal, in particular, has developed the kind of cockiness and arrogance that will make him as many enemies as he will runs. Aamer has been involved in a serious dust-up with Umar Gul, over as small a matter as a dropped catch. And the ogling of women - no cricket crime, really - that Afridi refers to, is in at least one case directed at Aamer, who put down Ricky Ponting at deep fine leg in Hobart, minutes after just such a distraction. Neither Akmal nor Aamer is yet a full year into the international game.

It is a shameful, sorry spectacle, even when we think we are inured to such. It's no bad thing that the PCB has handed out such punishments as it has; after all, the one thing the video makes abundantly clear is that these men cannot play with each other, at least not without harming the team.

But the board should have been more open when it was handing out the punishments, if only to spare themselves this current headache. And they should also have sacked themselves for not being able to handle the situation. As much as it is an exposé of the rot among the players, it is also an indictment of the absolute incompetence of the PCB's top hierarchy. They failed to back any captain they selected, they appointed managers who couldn't handle situations, and in fact exacerbated them, and they let the situation fester. If players have been banned, so should Ijaz Butt, Wasim Bari, Yawar Saeed and others be told to go, to hopefully end what is among the sorriest periods in the history of this cricketing nation.

Osman Samiuddin is Pakistan editor of Cricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • cricket on May 24, 2010, 16:37 GMT

    Action49 you give Afridi's averages and assume that is all what makes a player. This is a very Indian way of thinking=who has the most centuries=who has the most average.Better to look at who wins to the most games..who performs when it matters the most..who wins you the ICC events..We won 2009 t20 WC because of Afridi's performances in the semi-final and final with both the bat and ball...he won us the World cup...He' got us to the semi-finals this time even when he was given a team he did not like...his agressive tactics vs Australia in semis (first time a team stood up to ozzy pacemen) is a sign of good things to come. Lastly, he's not a part of this whole group chaoes or at least not the center of it..If you just want to look at meaningless averages, look at Tendulker..what good is it when he can't win your country matches and cups? I would take Afridis match winning ability in big events over Tendulkers centuries vs weak teams on dead pitches in meaningless matches any day.

  • Dummy4 on May 24, 2010, 15:09 GMT

    I still want an answer for my question. Why did you fire Mohammed Yousuf and Younis Khan? Do you seriously think, bang bang and the Akmals can replace those two guys? You cannot hide/replace experience that is for sure. All you have done is beat South Africa in a 20/20 game, a nation which does not know anything abt how to play a turning ball. I don think Pakistan has the thing to beat a better team in any series. Give it another 1 or 2 years then they might grow. Also, why have you guys picked K.Akmal after all his wicket keeping woes??? He himself, is asking the same question. Why don you guys play him like Brendon McCullum. Also please reveal list of "League of the Extraordinary Gentlemen". They are the shameless creatures in any planet. I think Akmal should have been in that league... Or else he will not keep like that.

  • Abdul on May 24, 2010, 13:36 GMT

    What a mess.... The players have their on agenda, they all want to be captain. Take Afridi, the man walked out of the test and said he wasn't interested, and now that the field is clear, what have the loser championing the case of "look here I am the man to lead the country on all format of the game", as a snake, I would not be at all surprised that he must be in on the act to install himself as the undisputed king! Lets take Afridi's test and Odi and T20. In tests after the back to back test centuries against India, he had 7 innings with average 19 and 61 overs 5 wicket at 58 average. In the ODI he palyed 37 matches in the same time frame (july 2007 -31 jan 2010) his average played 48 runs 885 avg 19.24. Bowling 507 overs 2356 runs 73 wkts (avg 32.56 econ rate 4.64) In T20, played 33 runs 566 avg 19 Bowling 41 wkts ave 19.11. The stats then tells us what is the worth of Afridi in the Pakistani side and he want to be a captain. This is a Joke too far

  • wakas on May 23, 2010, 21:22 GMT

    Once again why do the fans have to suffer. Its unbelievable but true in a population of millions yet we can't set a proper organisation with educated people. We need proffesional and educated cricketers like Imran Khan. I love Pakistan cricket and its so sad when these people under perform, who are they cheating only themselves. How low could one go by cheating with your own country. These men should get officially prosecuted for doing this. I mean you are not playing for your school team its your country not your captain or anyone else but just go out and play for your country. I don't understand why players like Rana, Hafeez, Iftekhar, Misbah and Arafat keep coming back, is there no one in a population of over 160 million we can't kind 11 professional cricketers who will play for their country especially in a country where cricket is played everywhere. Even is they are not educated the PCB need to set a good example and the players can then follow. Inshallah there will be changes.

  • Mullah on May 23, 2010, 17:59 GMT

    As a die e hard fan of Pakistan cricket and its intricacies I am appalled by the current imbroglio. What irks me the most is that these players chose to take to meet their unholy agenda. Now one thing that is sure is that Danish Kaneria was not involved in that inglorious oath taking saga because a> he is an unbeliever b> he was busy displaying his skills gained by playing for Pakistan by indulging in spot fixing, he has now actually made us proud by getting arrested but who cares, RAW agent by default. Having said that all of us must take lesson from the recent Facebook saga, I hold the players guilty of an offence of the same proportions by taking an oath on the holy book for nefarious purposes, these players must be punished adequately to reflect the gravity of the offence, will the Pak government take notice? Lastly I cant be done without mentioning the ball biting incident, it may seem cheap and the act of a semi-literate low life to most of you, but he did it for my nation!

  • Jagath on May 23, 2010, 16:39 GMT

    No much surprised at the disunity and infighting, just the way the coutry was born. Just can't get along, not with British (understandably), not with India (should I say Bhaarath), not your team own, not your captain, not your coach, not your teammates. As one of the comments said, the situation is 'Trickle-Down effect' all right. Look at the person who appointed the top man, Chairman Ejaz Butt. Someone suggested Miandad is the best person to be in charge now. What a pity, the country can't find anyone better than the 'Streetfighter'. May be others are too deep into politics. The team should learn from a team like West Indies. Different counties, capitals, currencies, heroes, but when it comes to Cricket, they're all one.

  • Anjam on May 23, 2010, 16:04 GMT

    In continuation, of my previous mail, look at all corrupt cricketers we have. They all believe they are bigger than country. They have high ego. All asians have problem of superiority complex. All dumb morons have this problems. Nothing new to it. Top of that, add illiteracy to that. And you have shiny product of Akmals and Mohammad Amers Maliks and Umar Akmals. Amer had spat with Gul, that's why his name is in this mix. At 18 he should be more humble and down to earth. But talk about big ego. This mail is only for matured and educated and fair people. Not for average rigid Joe. Bye all. And all Indian cricketers are in this mix too other than Sachin. Guy is a class act. Bye all by enlightened.

  • Dummy4 on May 23, 2010, 14:17 GMT

    for gods sake just pick Afridi as captain for all three formats. leave him be for a year and let him do this thing. all those idiots who say sack him because he doesnt do enough, well look at Clarke in the t20 world cup, did bugger all with the bat, but still lead his side to the finals. all the young players need to be kept away from bad influences like Malik, Akhtar, Younis, Yousuf and Naveed.

  • Hameed on May 23, 2010, 9:05 GMT

    There is tremendous amount of tallent in Pakistan so those are found of being guilty of politics or some kind of rebellion, must be replaced by a youngster. Those who shows tallent in U19 must be sent for higher training to Australia for further development. In each international 3 new players should be introduced without any excuse. If you dont perform you wont play. There is no need for PCB organization because they are very corrupt. Players can be chosen by there past 5 performances on highest level of the game in the country including from Under 19. In this computer age, a program can act as selector. If you want second opinion who should play for Pakistan then contact all the umpires specially those who were watching top Pakistani cricketers from few yards like Aleem Dar etc. Cricket is now a show business and all about money and greed.There is another idea how to chose a team and captain. Let the all the active players of Qaud e Azam trophy vote fo Pakistan,s team and a captain.

  • Dummy4 on May 23, 2010, 8:05 GMT

    These players need to be educated to play international cricket. PCB should make compulsory a refresher course for six months before bringing them to international level and keep on doing this for atleast twice a month.

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