'Negative' Malik slammed by team-mates, coach
A video of the PCB's inquiry committee investigations into the ill-fated Australia tour has revealed the level of in-fighting and disunity within the Pakistan side. Though not new as such, the video - leaked to a leading channel in Pakistan - confirms speculation surrounding the startling level of distrust and discord between senior members of the side.
Former Pakistan captain Shoaib Malik is at the centre of it, accused by team-mates and coaches of being a negative influence in the team. In the video, Malik is ultimately described by a committee member as a "termite", with broader criticism of his role ranging from backbiting against players to politicking within the team.
The PCB took action against seven players, including Malik, after the committee concluded its investigations, though they never made public the report. Mohammad Yousuf and Younis Khan were banned indefinitely, Malik and Naved-ul-Hasan were banned for a year while Shahid Afridi and the Akmal brothers were fined and placed on probation for six months for specific incidents of indiscipline.
"He (Malik) is a negative person and he creates problems. I wanted him to be sent back home," former coach Intikhab Alam told the committee members. Intikhab also said that Malik had initially agreed to bat at No.3 but shied away during the tour of New Zealand, which preceded the Australia series. He also accuses him of deliberately sitting out of the second Test at Sydney.
Predictably, the most scathing criticism comes from Yousuf, with whom Malik has had a public feud almost from the moment he became captain in 2007, after a disastrous World Cup in the Caribbean. Yousuf held Malik and the selection committee of the time responsible for his ouster from the team for the 2007 World Twenty20 and subsequent series.
Both made public statements against each other while Yousuf was away from the team, till his return last year during the tour of Sri Lanka. However, their feud picked up again after Australia, where Yousuf was the captain. Yousuf was slammed by the media and former players for his defensive approach during the Sydney Test, and after the tour concluded, was even accused of "infighting" and having a "negative influence", similar to the charges laid against Malik.
"He played politics all the time. Former chairman Dr Nasim Ashraf made a big blunder and hurt Pakistan cricket when he appointed Malik captain in 2007 when his place in the side was also not confirmed," Yousuf told the committee. "This led to other players also believing they could become captain, it set a wrong precedent in Pakistan cricket."
Malik responded by criticising Yousuf's captaincy during the tour to the committee, where they failed to win a single match. "I went out during water break in the Sydney Test on the final day and told him to attack Mike Hussey but he didn't listen," Malik said. "His captaincy in Australia was pathetic, he has no confidence to take decisions."
Malik found no support from another captain and senior player, Shahid Afridi, who accused him of backbiting. "I told him clearly on his face that if he continues this practice of his double standards he will not survive in the team for too long and I will not have him in the team if I am made captain," Afridi said. Afridi is currently the Twenty20 captain and Malik is still serving his one-year ban. His appeal is set for May 22.
Intikhab is also critical of the players' behavior and manner away from the field, questioning their education levels and upbringing, their mental aptitude and ultimately concluding that they "seem to be mentally retarded." He suggests, as remedial measures, that Malik, Misbah-ul-Haq, Yousuf and Younis be removed from the team, though he says of Younis that "he is not a troublemaker but he has other issues."
Parts of the interaction of Rana with the committee are also on the video. Rana talks at length about the players' unhappiness with Younis when he was captain last year, admitting that he was part of a concerted movement to try and remove him.
The leak of the video - and more will come over the coming days - has come as an acute embarrassment for the PCB, which has tried hard to keep the findings of the report private. Six of the seven players have since appealed the punishments and hearings are currently underway under the aegis of a retired judge: the board blamed the players and their legal counsels for the leak of proceedings that were held in March. The video recordings were obtained and shown by Geo Super, the only sports channel in Pakistan.
"The board had the video recordings of the proceedings since February and nothing was leaked out to the media," PCB legal advisor and a member of the inquiry committee Tafazzul Rizvi said. "But we had given the video and audio recordings to some of the players and their legal representatives [at the appeals]. So it was very obvious who leaked these video recordings," Rizvi said.
He said the board had kept all the proceedings of the inquiry committee confidential for the sake of Pakistan cricket, the reputation of the players and the sport itself. "But if the players want these things to come out in the open then fine they will also have to bear the consequences, the board is certainly not responsible for leaking out these confidential things," Rizvi said.