Pakistan's discplinary crisis March 15, 2010

PCB and manager wrangle over player bans

Younis Khan axing Mohammad Yousuf from the second ODI against New Zealand in Abu Dhabi last November ultimately led to his own resignation from the captaincy and created problems within the team, according to the report of the manager of the side Abdur Raqib. This, and a number of other revelations, was announced by the PCB today in a press release salvo aimed at the former manager, who was with the side on tours to Abu Dhabi, New Zealand and Australia.

The three tours culminated with a winless trip to Australia and the results led to an inquiry committee looking at the reasons behind the loss. The committee - with assent from the board chairman Ijaz Butt - last week handed out severe fines and bans to seven senior players for various breaches of discipline. But the board, to mounting criticism, has refused to make public the committee report, which itself took inputs from reports of the coach, manager and interviews with many players. This release, in which details of Raqib's reports are released, could however mark the beginning of a drip-drip release of the entire report.

Since the punishments Raqib has publicly spoken of his surprise - and in some cases disappointment - at the fines and bans. But the board today released a statement claiming that Raqib had wanted players to be heavily fined. According to the board, in his manager's report, Raqib writes "that when Younis Khan decided to drop Mohammad Yousuf for the second ODI against New Zealand in Abu Dhabi [Yousuf played the second ODI, but was dropped from the third match], it led to a series of events that ultimately forced Younis Khan to resign. Raquib's tour report clearly mentioned that when Yousuf was told he was dropped on account of his poor fielding he curtly replied, "I have been fielding like this for the last 7 years". He publicly argued with the team coach and the resulting disquiet in the team led to the dropping of Shoaib Malik and Umar Akmal. Raquib stated that it was in the backdrop of these events that team unity completely broke down and eventually Younis Khan resigned from the captaincy. Raquib has also admitted that he was unable to take any corrective action and remained totally helpless to arrest the sharply falling team morale in during these events."

Other incidents revealed in the report confirm the impression that there was considerable disquiet within the side through the three-month trip. Most damaging is the apparent confirmation of the behaviour of the Akmal brothers after the Sydney Test. Kamran was fined for making statements to the Australian press about playing in Hobart, but Raqib's report also says that younger brother Umar complained of a non-existent back injury in the run-up to the Test. "After the second Test in Sydney when Kamran Akmal was apparently being dropped for poor performance he started giving statements in the Australian Press which was a clear breach of the player's code of Conduct. Consequently Umar Akmal complained of a back injury; however after a medical check up no injury was found. Umar Akmal however also violated the code of conduct by giving statements to the press."

A "brawl" between Yousuf and coach Intikhab Alam is also documented, during the fifth and final ODI in Perth, which Yousuf eventually sat out amid much speculation at the time. "Raquib has also written in his tour report that after the 5th ODI against Australia a brawl took place between Mohammad Yousuf and the team coach on the selection of the team, as Shahid Afridi had made two changes and dropped Younis Khan and Shoaib Malik," the PCB said. The report also confirmed rumours of an altercation between Umar Gul and Mohammad Aamer during a Test in New Zealand, one serious enough to incur heavy fines.

The board said it "completely rejected Raquib's recent statements in the press where he has denied complaining about player indiscipline during his stint as Team Manager. In his recent appearance before the Australian Tour Inquiry Committee when asked what action should be taken against those players who were found to be in breach of team discipline Mr. Raquib had suggested that they should be heavily fined. It is disappointing to note that Mr. Raquib has chosen to deny what is already well recorded and documented. Raquib had repeated his complaints during his appearance before the Australia Tour Inquiry Committee. Now Mr. Raquib is issuing statements that are completely opposite to his own stated positions."

Osman Samiuddin is Pakistan editor of Cricinfo