February 1, 2001

Showing the door to Moin - A Rumor or Reality

Pakistan's defeat at the hands of England in the Karachi Test left a bitter taste, not because England won the match and clinched the test series but for the event badly handled at the Pakistan's end. Skipper Moin Khan was the main target of criticism for poor captaincy and a miserable performance behind the stumps. In a situation simmering with heat, it was his good luck that he emerged unscathed from the disaster and was re-appointed to lead the Pakistan team on its tour of New Zealand. Considering the fact that victory and defeat are the two facets of a game and a defeat does not necessitate the crucifixion of people, the decision to continue with him was not wrong.

Now when the training camps were in progress and the team was playing practice matches to prepare itself for the tour, the rumors became afloat that Moin Khan's reign as captain was in serious trouble. The reports were based on the fact that Moin was dropped from the side after playing the first match of a series of practice matches held at different centers in the country. He was later called upon to participate in the last two matches at Peshawar and Rawalpindi on the recommendation of a players lobby that liked him. In these matches, he was not supposed to lead the team but play under Inzamam ul Haq, Vice Captain of the team.

Apparently there does not seem to be anything sensational in it. The practice matches are generally arranged to test the potential of the probables and it is quite common to exempt the senior players from participation. Similarly elevating a vice captain to the post of a skipper in a practice match is meant to judge his suitability and to groom him for the role.

Apart from the press that magnified the issue beyond proportions, another factor that gave rise to speculations was the contradictory statements issued from the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB)'s offices. While the top brass of the Board had expressed full satisfaction about Moin's performance and extended his tenure of captaincy, another senior official of the board expressed the view that the board was following the policy of appointing the captain on series to series basis, hinting there may be reconsideration of Moin's appointment.

Another reason for Moin's fall from grace is said to be the recent row between the players on the distribution of money received from a logo sponsorship deal, prize money and other payments. Moin is said to have objected to the share of Coach Javed Miandad, with whom he does not enjoy a cordial relationship. Disturbed by the situation, Chairman PCB Lt.Gen. Tauqir Zia warned that players making trouble over prize money would be sacked from the team.

The doubts created about Moin's future have also given rise to the ambitions of some other senior players to wear the crown. Waqar Younis who has all along been very careful in keeping himself out of the squabbles, considers the opportunity tailor made for him followed by some others. It may be recalled that Moin has been the victim of such bitter situations in the past too. He was appointed Captain of the Pakistan Team for Sahara Cup 99 and replaced in-flight by Wasim Akram. He accepted the change with good grace and performed well in the tournament.

The situation may be called as disappointing as well as interesting but certainly not serious enough to be dubbed as a `crisis'. The experts, however, feel that heavens did not fall if we lost to England, the team that played better. Similarly the pebbles flying around the issue are like the storm in a teacup only. Whatever the PCB's policy on the subject may be, continuity of leadership is more essential and important for the success of a team. Whether the change in Pakistan team's captaincy is a rumor or reality will be known when the squad for the tour of New Zealand is announced on Friday.