Pakistan news October 9, 2010

Sohail calls on government to revive Pakistan cricket

ESPNcricinfo staff

Aamer Sohail, the former Pakistan captain, has criticised the nation's government for failing to put a check on the various crises affecting cricket in the country. Several Pakistan cricketers were punished in the aftermath of a winless tour of Australia in 2009-10 and, most recently, Salman Butt, Mohammad Amir and Mohammad Asif were provisionally suspended by the ICC over suspicion of being involved in the spot-fixing controversy during the tour of England. Sohail called on the patron-in-chief of the PCB, the Pakistan president Asif Ali Zardari, to step in.

"The government must realise it [cricket] is not just a sport in Pakistan, a country where there are so many religious, political and other divisions," Sohail told Geo TV. "In a country where people are facing so many crises and problems, the government must realise cricket has always served as a unifying factor.

"The chief patron must wake up to the reality and the seriousness of the crisis. Good governance is all about recognising the potential of cricket to unify the people and give them happiness and joy in their lives."

Sohail, not for the first time, was critical of Ijaz Butt, the PCB chairman, over the current state of affairs. Sohail had served as the director of Pakistan's National Cricket Academy, before quitting in July 2009, because of differences with Butt.

"I am really surprised that a seasoned political party like the Pakistan Peoples Party has still not realised that things are not moving forward with this present set-up and chairman," Sohail said.

Pakistan recently announced their team for the tour of the UAE, where they will face South Africa in each of the three formats. Misbah-ul-Haq was included in the team and, in a surprising move, made captain for the Test series. Younis Khan, whose ban after the Australia series was overturned, wasn't picked. "For no rhyme or reason Ijaz Butt refuses to give clearance for Younis to be in the Pakistan team. If Younis has committed a major crime or indiscipline then it is the duty of the board to let the people know so that this chapter is closed once for all," Sohail said.

"Enough is enough and I don't think any former chairman of the board has faced so much criticism and opposition for his manner of running cricket affairs. Yet the government appears to be blind to popular public opinion even though it preaches democracy."