Saturday September 23, 2023

Arif Ali Khan Abbasi’s ‘Not a Gentleman’s Game’ launched

By our correspondents
December 09, 2017

KARACH: Over the years many books have been written about Pakistan cricket. But if you are looking for one book that will certainly cause quite stir then you shouldn’t look any further than Arif Ali Khan Abbasi’s aptly titled memoirs — ‘Not a Gentleman’s Game’.

Launched at the historic Mohatta Palace and in the presence of a galaxy of present and former cricket stars, ‘Not a Gentleman’s Game’ is about Arif Ali Khan Abbasi’s time in cricket and events he was personally involved in.The 268-page book was unveiled by squash legend Jahangir Khan at the impressive launch. Also present at the occasion were former Pakistan captain Aamir Sohail, Younis Khan, Saleem Malik, Mohsin Hassan Khan, Moin Khan, Naseemul Ghani, Shoaib Mohammad, Danish Kaneria and hockey greats Samiullah and Hanif Khan.

‘Not a Gentleman’s Game’ is a must-read book as it contains first-hand knowledge of the happenings in the world of cricket.From his first appointment as Secretary of the BCCP in early 1980 by Air Marshal Nur Khan, Abbasi has been courted by cricket wherever he went. Shortly after his appointment, Pakistan initiated the concept of the Asian Cricket Council, aimed at bringing all the Asian cricket boards closer together and promoting the sport throughout the continent. He speaks about the ICC match referees and how the idea was born, carries us through various events, putting the records straight.

In his book Abbasi tells us about overcoming isolation, confronting Indian power and how Pakistan took the lead in bidding for the 1983 World Cup for the Reliance World Cup of 1987 without any support from India. He talks about the triumph of the Pakistani team in the Nehru Cup. The readers are also treated to the big story about World Cup in 1996 and the sponsorship of $8 million by Wills; a sum that has never been equalled by any other single sponsor.

The setting up of rebuilding projects to lift the ground facilities, playing conditions, and security measures to meet the standard set by ICC, National Stadium, Karachi and Gaddafi Stadium, Lahore, received a thorough overhaul at a cost of Rs80 million and Rs90 million, respectively.

One finds out that during his tenure Pakistan was the sole country that voiced changes and implemented them. Changes like the third country umpires, ICC referees, professional managers, ball boys, commercialization of the World Cup of cricket and making it into a second largest tournament after the Football World Cup, creation of the Asian Cricket Council and finally the Asia Cup. The reader also gets to know about the details of the conversion of PCB into a corporation introducing the disciplines and professionalism of corporate culture in the management of the game in Pakistan. Abbasi ensured that the board would be transparent in its financial dealings and accountable to its stakeholders thereby helping the PCB to break free from the shackles of political interference.

Abbasi has been the only person to be in an official position in the PCB for twelve and a half years and takes his reader along on his interesting journey from domestic cricket to making a mark on the international cricket scene.

The reader discovers his deep understanding of the game and how he made sure that cricket never suffered without ever compromising Pakistan’s position and Pakistan’s interest at the international forum. Not a Gentleman’s Game tells us that democracy is the oxygen of cricket in Pakistan. Democracy means full debate, discussion, and involvement in key decisions by all the stakeholders of Pakistan cricket.