Cricket in chaos

By Editorial Board
December 05, 2023

Pakistan’s embarrassingly early exit from the World Cup last month should have resulted in a thorough post-mortem aimed at underlining the reasons behind the national team’s dismal performance in India and to find ways and means to put our cricket back on track. Instead, it seems that Pakistan’s cricket authorities have pressed the self-destruct button.

Just days after Pakistan ended their World Cup campaign on a disappointing note, the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) took a series of decisions trying to give an impression that the culprits behind the debacle in India will be held accountable. The board told Babar Azam that it doesn’t want him to continue as the country’s white-ball captain.

Pakistan's captain Babar Azam (L) attends a practice session at the Eden Gardens in Kolkata on October 30, 2023. — AFP

The star batter opted to resign as skipper from all formats. Then the PCB sidelined the team’s coaching staff led by South African Mickey Arthur.

It replaced the seasoned Arthur with former Test captain Mohammad Hafeez, who has little or no coaching experience. The relatively inexperienced Wahab Riaz was brought in for the outgoing Inzamam-ul-Haq as chief selector. Neither of these decisions made much sense. But it was the move to bring in disgraced former Test skipper Salman Butt as a consultant to the chief selector that turned out to be the last straw. There was an expected backlash and the PCB was forced to reverse the decision.

The Salman Butt fiasco has once again highlighted the fact that the biggest culprit behind our cricketing mess is the PCB itself. Or perhaps the blame lays on the shoulders of those sitting in the corridors of power because they are ones who shaped the Board because of their whimsical decisions. When the late Gen Pervez Musharraf was in power, he handpicked Gen Tauqir Zia as the chairman of the PCB. Later he brought in his friend Dr Naseem Ashraf to run Pakistan cricket. Asif Zardari brought in Zaka Ashraf. Nawaz Sharif opted for Najam Sethi. Imran Khan favoured Ramiz Raja. The Sharifs brought back Sethi before Zardari used his influence to pave the path for Ashraf's comeback.

It's this farcical game of musical chairs that has been hurting our cricket. More often than not, these "political" appointees take over PCB to run their own agendas. Sycophants are installed on key positions. Previous plans are shelved. New plans are made only to be shelved by whoever wins the game of musical chairs. For Pakistan cricket to succeed, this entire culture needs to change. The PCB should be allowed to work as an independent body without any political interference. It should be run by competent professionals who have no political affiliations. Unless that's done, nothing will change.