The inexplicable ways of Pakistan cricket

Misbah-ul-Haq attempts to cut the ball AFP

The PCB is in chaos. Admittedly, that is like saying the ECB is quite fond of money, or the BCCI is warming to the idea of wielding power. Chaos is what they do at the PCB, and I might add, they do it better than any other organisation you might care to name.

But in this case, it was not the PCB's fault, or not entirely their fault, or only their fault to begin with. As we speak, there are legal proceedings proceeding, so I should be careful what I say, but I am fairly confident that most of the people involved have only the slightest grasp of what exactly is going on, so I can probably get away with talking about it.

As far as I can tell, the PCB attempted to hold a quick vote/change of constitution just before the general election. The details are complicated and dangerously boring, but the upshot of this administrative jiggery-pokery would have been the retention of one Zaka Ashraf, previously picked by the soon-to-be-previous PPP president, but unlikely to be picked by the prospective president, the principle panjandrum of the PML.

They would have gotten away with it too, if it hadn't been for those meddling judges. The IHC asked the IPC to sort it out, but then the PM set up an IMC, bypassing the IPC, to the annoyance of the IHC and the PCB. This whirlwind of pointlessly confusing abbreviations signifies that yet again, Pakistan's politicians, judges and cricket administrators have come together to produce a perfect storm of bureaucratic absurdity.

In any other country, this concatenation of calamity would affect the players. Yet out in Dubai, Pakistan's results have continued to follow the normal pattern: inexplicable victory, followed by inexplicable defeat, followed by disastrous defeat, followed by resurgence.

The last time I saw them, they were taking an impressive lead in the Test series. When I caught up with highlights of Monday's play, they were already 4-1 down with none to play in the one-day international series.

From what I can tell, the fifth ODI was a game that took a while to get off the ground. This isn't my metaphor. I am grateful to commentator Mike Haysman, who, having observed that every minute or so, a jetliner climbed wearily into the rose-tinted Dubai sky, lazily informed us, in the 40th over, that the South African innings hadn't taken off at all. Later on, he was reduced to desperate measures to try to keep the viewers involved:

"There's an interesting stat that I'll come to in a second, regarding no-balls "

Fortunately not long after that, AB de Villiers started to get a move on. Helped by a score of 25 off the last over, which was bowled by a Sohail Tanvir impersonator who bore no resemblance to the formerly deadly limited-overs death bowler of the same name, South Africa managed 268. Having had them at 154 for 5 with ten to go, Pakistan might have felt that was 40 or 50 too many. As it transpired, it was 117 too many.

There was no Steyn or Morkel in the South African team, but on their day, Pakistan can collapse against anyone. Ahmed Shehzad was the first, then Mohammad Hafeez met a straight one with a defence as solid as a soggy paper bag, and Umar Amin gave Philander his second wicket by playing a lovely on-drive six inches parallel to where the ball was. By the time Shahid Afridi gave us his trademark straight-up-in-the-air shot, it was all over.

After an experience like that, most teams might struggle to lift themselves for their next fixture, but this is not most teams. Administrative anarchy back home and a crushing defeat will make no difference whatsoever, and by the time you read this, Pakistan will be thrashing South Africa in the first T20. Or they will be losing badly. One or the other.