Pakistan news July 6, 2011

A report from afar, devoid of practicality

The Pakistan Task Team never actually came to Pakistan, and it shows in their unrealistic report. And what of the original purpose of the team - to help Pakistan deal with losing international cricket? That has been almost completely ignored
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"Pakistan has been a member of the International Cricket Council," begins the ICC's Pakistan Task Team report, "since 1953." It is an unfortunate way to begin what should be a document of such importance because it is wrong; Pakistan was elected in July 1952 and the team played their first Test later that year in October. In a way - if imperfectly - the error captures something of this report.

When the task team was first approved in June 2009 its main purpose was to ensure that Pakistan wouldn't suffer from the loss of international cricket at home and at least look at ways of resuming it. In fact when it was first offered in February that year, the Lahore attacks that eventually ruled out international cricket in Pakistan hadn't even occurred. The task team was a response to an unstable couple of years, in which some teams had pulled out of tours and the Champions Trophy (2008) had been taken away on security grounds.

It is more than a little strange, then, to see that over 38 pages and through 63 recommendations so little space and thought has been given to this central matter, the very crisis for which the task team was first formed. Only three of the 63 recommendations are actually concerned with reviving cricket and they are not so much recommendations as they are sentences of nothingness. "ICC Members should continue to support PCB through fulfillment of FTP commitments, at neutral venues in circumstances where safety and security remains a concern." Really? Yes, that is thoughtful.

"Where ICC Members are confident following their own risk assessments, they should consider touring Pakistan to honour their FTP commitments." That's that sorted then, the first step towards resumption confidently taken. "ICC should support ongoing activity involving the Pakistan ambassadors ([Mike] Brearley and [Greg] Chappell) to keep issues relating to tours involving Pakistan in the public eye." Eh? Is this even a sentence?

Matters of security in Pakistan are not in the hands of the ICC and PCB and there is nothing they can do to change that. But should there not have been more intent, or rather, any intent at all from the PTT? On the ground, what has the task team actually done to try to revive cricket here? Have there been periodic risk assessments by the ICC security task force? Does that force even exist still? Has the PTT even begun to think of a roadmap back, slave as it must be to Pakistan's internal war, but an important sign of intent nevertheless? Only the delusional expected the PTT to bring back cricket in two years, but even the realist could expect a little more than nothing.

That considerable-sized elephant in the room ignored, the rest of the report reads a little like Barack Obama's first-term report card soon might: noble in intent, divorced from reality. The changes it recommends in governance, in cutting the chairman's powers, empowering the regional associations and strengthening the hands of selectors are especially fantastic. Have they met Ijaz Butt yet? Does he look like someone who would willingly reduce his own power? Has any PCB chairman ever? And clearly they have little idea of the kind of troubles that ail regional associations if they can cover it all with this beautifully reduced proposal: "Regional bodies should be empowered to manage their affairs and given more say in the decision-making of the PCB itself."

In these places it feels like a report made from afar and in a way it is. The team met a vast number of former players and officials and other stakeholders during its work, but it never came to Pakistan to see and feel how cricket works. There were eight meetings in all but none in the country to which the report pertained.

When Zimbabwe was dealing with their own task force a few years ago, there were at least two ICC fact-finding missions to the country. The last one in November 2008 was particularly useful and it led to Zimbabwe accepting the recommendation in April 2009. But the PTT never came to Pakistan to meet, for example, officials from the sports and law ministry or constitutional experts, all of whom have a role in any of the constitutional changes the report recommends.

In other places it feels far too intrusive, an indication of confusion as to its own purpose. It suggests better balls be used in domestic cricket. It advises the board to cut the number of central contracts from 45 to 35 (incidentally the board had already cut this down to 20 before the report was published). It urges the board to look again at the value of having regional and departmental teams together in the domestic set-up. Frankly, these points may merit debate, but within the PCB and instigated by them. They are not the concern of the ICC, unless they intend to micro-manage all other Members as well.

Nothing in this report, by the way, is binding on the PCB. Implementation already appears a non-starter. The PCB will get back to the ICC with its own "observations" and there will be plenty. So the lasting impression, especially as far as the more expansive recommendations go, will be of a document that most students and well-wishers of Pakistan cricket could have produced. There is much that is right in it, but that is not the point. We all want there to be no nuclear weapons, a world of peace, no corruption, rape, murder or genocide. Not knowing how to get there is the problem.

Osman Samiuddin is Pakistan editor of ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • mso797 on July 8, 2011, 23:13 GMT

    where can you read a copy of the report? can you even read it?

  • xampl2001 on July 8, 2011, 11:17 GMT

    Irfan Mayani You have to understand Champions League is not sponcered by ICC,this was stared by India & Austrailia & later ECB & South African board joined,Icc cannot ask these boards why Pakistani club team is not invited.

  • anilkp on July 7, 2011, 18:29 GMT

    Reposting since my earlier comment was not posted. Let's be practical. The situaton is Pakistan has not improved after the Lahore attack on the Sri Lankans. Thus, no team will want to tour there, and no one can force a team to do so. It is up to the Pakistanis (people, administration/government, PCB) to set the order right before someone can think of touring there. The only way forward is the PCB works very hard in convincing teams that Pakistan is safe, and the government backs them by assuring "absolute" security. A bomb can practically go off in SL or Ind or BD, but the difference with Pak is that foreign cricketers were attacked there. No ICC or PTT or anything can do a thing; it is absolutely up to the Pakistanis to actually set their home in order. It will take time; until then international cricket is not returning to Pakistan. That is the reality and practicality. Period. If you disagree, you are free to live in self-denial.

  • on July 7, 2011, 16:33 GMT

    If Osman had any clue how to fix the problems, he would have presented them in this article instead of this rant.

  • piyo_thanda_jiyo_thanda on July 7, 2011, 16:10 GMT

    Actually on second thoughts, PTT's suggestions are not that out of place. Pak definitely needs to revamp it's cricket and they should start by rooting out FOREVER all the corrupt players, match fixers etc. The only problem is that there's just too many of them :-(

  • Abra1ca2dabra on July 7, 2011, 14:45 GMT

    In an ideal world, PTT would have gone to Pakistan, stayed there for good, had access to the functioning of Pakistan cricket at all levels (including management), looked at security & provided an independent report to improve Pak cricket.

    But given the turmoil there & a cricket administration that quite naturally would have no more than put up with the PTT since it was a directive from ICC, how much of the above could have practically happened is everyone's guess.

    Now, there's no point in blaming PTT team for the report. The problem of security is much bigger & cricket loving people of Pakistan & it's administrators have to perhaps go the neutral venue route till things settle down.

    As far as administration is concerned, if there's merit it should not matter who says it. Former greats like Imran, Rameez along with members of the press should probably serve as mentors with a professional system at regional & national level handling governance. For immense talent there deserves it..

  • anilkp on July 7, 2011, 14:44 GMT

    Osman, let's make it clear that we understand it absolutely well: that there is a serious problem with the security setup in Pakistan, that the ICC or the PTT or PCB cannot do anything, that it is up to "will power" of the government/administration and the people of Pakistan to make a credible change. That will take time. Unless an outside team is sure of its security, it will not tour Pakistan. That is as simple as it gets. If some teams like the one from Afghanistan tour there, other will be thinking about it. The only way forward is that PCB befriends other boards and makes tremendous efforts to convince other teams to come, and that the Pakistani government assures of absolute security. Afghanistan, Bangladesh would be the initial help (NOT because their lives are cheaper, I dont mean it, but because they are Muslims and less likely to be attacked). It will take time. Neither ICC nor the GOD, if it is somewhere, can ask an outsider team to tour there. No one.

  • kabe_ag7 on July 7, 2011, 14:24 GMT

    The people who prepared the report might not have put as much effort as you would have liked Osman. But your criticism of the report will mean something only if you can come up with better alternatives and real suggestions. "How is that even a sentence" isn't much of a criticism either. What else could it suggest other than suggesting that the powers of the chairman should be reduced and more powers should be distributed to regional centres? If it had suggested the specifics, wouldn't it have been micro-managing then? A report by a foreign panel couldn't do much because a report by a foreign panel can't do much.

  • putrevus on July 7, 2011, 14:00 GMT

    what is the point of this article, Mr Osman what do you expect ICC to do, and why is everyone from Pakistan cricket want something from someone all the time.

    Mr.Osman is it ICC fault that PCB and its players are in news for all the wrong reasons, Last year ECB tried to host Pakistan's matches and in return what do they get spot fixing by Pakistani players.

    Don't you think It is high time PCB and its players do something for themselves for a change instead of waiting for someone to wave magic wand and make everything better.

    It is easy to criticize someone who is trying something but not easy to do some self introspection.PCB needs to help itself first before expecting anyone to help them.

  • Usmanaftab24 on July 7, 2011, 13:16 GMT

    Great work...spot on! Very well said khmayecha. Good work osman!

  • mso797 on July 8, 2011, 23:13 GMT

    where can you read a copy of the report? can you even read it?

  • xampl2001 on July 8, 2011, 11:17 GMT

    Irfan Mayani You have to understand Champions League is not sponcered by ICC,this was stared by India & Austrailia & later ECB & South African board joined,Icc cannot ask these boards why Pakistani club team is not invited.

  • anilkp on July 7, 2011, 18:29 GMT

    Reposting since my earlier comment was not posted. Let's be practical. The situaton is Pakistan has not improved after the Lahore attack on the Sri Lankans. Thus, no team will want to tour there, and no one can force a team to do so. It is up to the Pakistanis (people, administration/government, PCB) to set the order right before someone can think of touring there. The only way forward is the PCB works very hard in convincing teams that Pakistan is safe, and the government backs them by assuring "absolute" security. A bomb can practically go off in SL or Ind or BD, but the difference with Pak is that foreign cricketers were attacked there. No ICC or PTT or anything can do a thing; it is absolutely up to the Pakistanis to actually set their home in order. It will take time; until then international cricket is not returning to Pakistan. That is the reality and practicality. Period. If you disagree, you are free to live in self-denial.

  • on July 7, 2011, 16:33 GMT

    If Osman had any clue how to fix the problems, he would have presented them in this article instead of this rant.

  • piyo_thanda_jiyo_thanda on July 7, 2011, 16:10 GMT

    Actually on second thoughts, PTT's suggestions are not that out of place. Pak definitely needs to revamp it's cricket and they should start by rooting out FOREVER all the corrupt players, match fixers etc. The only problem is that there's just too many of them :-(

  • Abra1ca2dabra on July 7, 2011, 14:45 GMT

    In an ideal world, PTT would have gone to Pakistan, stayed there for good, had access to the functioning of Pakistan cricket at all levels (including management), looked at security & provided an independent report to improve Pak cricket.

    But given the turmoil there & a cricket administration that quite naturally would have no more than put up with the PTT since it was a directive from ICC, how much of the above could have practically happened is everyone's guess.

    Now, there's no point in blaming PTT team for the report. The problem of security is much bigger & cricket loving people of Pakistan & it's administrators have to perhaps go the neutral venue route till things settle down.

    As far as administration is concerned, if there's merit it should not matter who says it. Former greats like Imran, Rameez along with members of the press should probably serve as mentors with a professional system at regional & national level handling governance. For immense talent there deserves it..

  • anilkp on July 7, 2011, 14:44 GMT

    Osman, let's make it clear that we understand it absolutely well: that there is a serious problem with the security setup in Pakistan, that the ICC or the PTT or PCB cannot do anything, that it is up to "will power" of the government/administration and the people of Pakistan to make a credible change. That will take time. Unless an outside team is sure of its security, it will not tour Pakistan. That is as simple as it gets. If some teams like the one from Afghanistan tour there, other will be thinking about it. The only way forward is that PCB befriends other boards and makes tremendous efforts to convince other teams to come, and that the Pakistani government assures of absolute security. Afghanistan, Bangladesh would be the initial help (NOT because their lives are cheaper, I dont mean it, but because they are Muslims and less likely to be attacked). It will take time. Neither ICC nor the GOD, if it is somewhere, can ask an outsider team to tour there. No one.

  • kabe_ag7 on July 7, 2011, 14:24 GMT

    The people who prepared the report might not have put as much effort as you would have liked Osman. But your criticism of the report will mean something only if you can come up with better alternatives and real suggestions. "How is that even a sentence" isn't much of a criticism either. What else could it suggest other than suggesting that the powers of the chairman should be reduced and more powers should be distributed to regional centres? If it had suggested the specifics, wouldn't it have been micro-managing then? A report by a foreign panel couldn't do much because a report by a foreign panel can't do much.

  • putrevus on July 7, 2011, 14:00 GMT

    what is the point of this article, Mr Osman what do you expect ICC to do, and why is everyone from Pakistan cricket want something from someone all the time.

    Mr.Osman is it ICC fault that PCB and its players are in news for all the wrong reasons, Last year ECB tried to host Pakistan's matches and in return what do they get spot fixing by Pakistani players.

    Don't you think It is high time PCB and its players do something for themselves for a change instead of waiting for someone to wave magic wand and make everything better.

    It is easy to criticize someone who is trying something but not easy to do some self introspection.PCB needs to help itself first before expecting anyone to help them.

  • Usmanaftab24 on July 7, 2011, 13:16 GMT

    Great work...spot on! Very well said khmayecha. Good work osman!

  • sherishahmir on July 7, 2011, 9:27 GMT

    A very valid point by US that ICC PTF while complining this report should have also visited Pakistan for more once as they did for Zimbabwe to get the knowledge of ground realities of Pak domestic too.

    Suggestions although acedemic are geninune to overhaul Pak cricket in right way.

  • on July 7, 2011, 8:11 GMT

    if they want to ensure pakistani players get a chance to play international cricket , then how about forcing the Champions league to include the winners of pakistans domestic t20 competetions, whats stopping them

    and how about including pak players in the IPL as well. When we could play a WC semifinal in india, why not IPL and champions league

    Not a single mention of that ?

  • on July 7, 2011, 6:55 GMT

    Really? It's a problem that they suggested a change in administrative power? That is the only way forward, if at all there is any, for Pakistan cricket. Yes, the report has its flaws, but as far as the recommendations go, reducing the chariman's power is bang on target. That entire point of a recommendation is to improve conditions from bad to good, or perhaps less bad. In that sense, ALL recommendations are bound to be a touch idealist. Just for the sake of being anti-establishment lets not run the ICC down because Ijaz Butt is difficult to dethrone. The fact that his power needs to be re-adjusted is a hard reality and it HAS to be on ANYONE's list of recommendations. So let's not get carried away in our quest for attention.

    It's easy to complain about how the report doesn't do enough. Without any alternative suggestions though, it only seems like pointless ranting.

  • holdtight on July 7, 2011, 6:49 GMT

    spot on osman...this work stinks, an utterly non serious attitude to the cricket thirsty nation!

  • on July 7, 2011, 6:18 GMT

    just paper work done from offices far away

  • on July 7, 2011, 5:36 GMT

    We can keep wandering along imagining that the management of the PCB isn't a disaster, and that has no effect on the team's ability to play, but let's be honest- it's a mess, and everyone can see it. Welcome to 2011.

  • Zahidsaltin on July 7, 2011, 3:13 GMT

    Next time ICC needs a report like this to be written for any other country who doesn't enjoy noicer relations with biggers powers and ICC, they could ask Ejaz Butt to lead the task team. Even hHe could not have done such a big blunder. I am still in that state of mind where i don't know if I should just laugh at this peice of work or I should try to think with logic and understand the vested interests behind it.

  • samincolumbia on July 7, 2011, 3:11 GMT

    Isn't Clarke the same english gentleman who welcomed Sanford in an helicopter at Lords only to blow up in his face and then refused to resign? ICC is in good hands!!

  • khmayecha on July 7, 2011, 1:33 GMT

    There is only one thing more senseless and useless than this report - the ICC itself..

  • on July 6, 2011, 22:02 GMT

    how much $ did ICC wasted on this report? doesn't seem like the people involved in creating this report were really interested in helping pak cricket. most of the recommendations are useless and have nothing to do with the ground reality. not surprising that this report is as useless as ICC itself.

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  • on July 6, 2011, 22:02 GMT

    how much $ did ICC wasted on this report? doesn't seem like the people involved in creating this report were really interested in helping pak cricket. most of the recommendations are useless and have nothing to do with the ground reality. not surprising that this report is as useless as ICC itself.

  • khmayecha on July 7, 2011, 1:33 GMT

    There is only one thing more senseless and useless than this report - the ICC itself..

  • samincolumbia on July 7, 2011, 3:11 GMT

    Isn't Clarke the same english gentleman who welcomed Sanford in an helicopter at Lords only to blow up in his face and then refused to resign? ICC is in good hands!!

  • Zahidsaltin on July 7, 2011, 3:13 GMT

    Next time ICC needs a report like this to be written for any other country who doesn't enjoy noicer relations with biggers powers and ICC, they could ask Ejaz Butt to lead the task team. Even hHe could not have done such a big blunder. I am still in that state of mind where i don't know if I should just laugh at this peice of work or I should try to think with logic and understand the vested interests behind it.

  • on July 7, 2011, 5:36 GMT

    We can keep wandering along imagining that the management of the PCB isn't a disaster, and that has no effect on the team's ability to play, but let's be honest- it's a mess, and everyone can see it. Welcome to 2011.

  • on July 7, 2011, 6:18 GMT

    just paper work done from offices far away

  • holdtight on July 7, 2011, 6:49 GMT

    spot on osman...this work stinks, an utterly non serious attitude to the cricket thirsty nation!

  • on July 7, 2011, 6:55 GMT

    Really? It's a problem that they suggested a change in administrative power? That is the only way forward, if at all there is any, for Pakistan cricket. Yes, the report has its flaws, but as far as the recommendations go, reducing the chariman's power is bang on target. That entire point of a recommendation is to improve conditions from bad to good, or perhaps less bad. In that sense, ALL recommendations are bound to be a touch idealist. Just for the sake of being anti-establishment lets not run the ICC down because Ijaz Butt is difficult to dethrone. The fact that his power needs to be re-adjusted is a hard reality and it HAS to be on ANYONE's list of recommendations. So let's not get carried away in our quest for attention.

    It's easy to complain about how the report doesn't do enough. Without any alternative suggestions though, it only seems like pointless ranting.

  • on July 7, 2011, 8:11 GMT

    if they want to ensure pakistani players get a chance to play international cricket , then how about forcing the Champions league to include the winners of pakistans domestic t20 competetions, whats stopping them

    and how about including pak players in the IPL as well. When we could play a WC semifinal in india, why not IPL and champions league

    Not a single mention of that ?

  • sherishahmir on July 7, 2011, 9:27 GMT

    A very valid point by US that ICC PTF while complining this report should have also visited Pakistan for more once as they did for Zimbabwe to get the knowledge of ground realities of Pak domestic too.

    Suggestions although acedemic are geninune to overhaul Pak cricket in right way.