Back to the future -- again!

April 20, 2014

Back to the future -- again!

Rashid Latif has reversed his decision to join PCB as chief selector. The Board chairman is taking long-term decisions not knowing whether he will once again be booted out of the Gaddafi Stadium. Zaka Ashraf says he is still the legal chairman. Moin may become the new chief selector or coach, otherwise Waqar Younis is tapping on the door for the tracksuit and the deadpan face in the dressing room.

Whoever becomes chief selector will have the brains of the resident selectors, Azhar Khan and Farrukh Zaman, to help him identify which veteran to bring back as our fresh, new hope.

Then there is news that Mushtaq Ahmed is being considered for the Academy Head. Shoaib Mohammad is still eyeing the fielding coach position and Zaheer Abbas batting consultant. Inzamam wants the job too. Afridi wants to accept his 917th challenge in Pakistan cricket while Mohsin is still wondering why he shouldn’t become head coach and Misbah why he isn’t playing T20 for Pakistan.

Even Salahuddin Sallu has been mentioned as being given some responsibility. It all depends on where they can fit Zakir Khan and Intikhab Alam; cricket management priorities come after that. Arguably one of the most shrewd and fair selector in Pakistan cricket history, I would say that if nothing is found for Sallu Bhai he may be considered for the position of poet laureate of Pakistan cricket and asked to build some intellectual capital among the cricketers; it’s too late for PCB management of course.

Meanwhile Aamir Sohail keeps telling everyone that everyone is an idiot and has Sarfraz Nawaz and Mohammad Ilyas to back him up his claim. Salman Butt keeps stressing that there is no justice for nice people while Mohammad Asif is still trying to find the guy who duped him into becoming the next best thing after Munna Bhai MBBS. The irony is perhaps lost on him.

Yes, life is back to normal at Gaddafi Stadium after the staidness of playing cricket on the field. It has been an eventful week with many endings per day, which is the forever normal in Pakistan cricket. It couldn’t be any other way or it would be absolutely maddening.

Wherever he is found Najam Sethi keeps telling everyone that we are more powerful than The Big Three put together; that fellow cricketing nations stacked up against Pakistan have cancelled cricket between themselves to play Pakistan; that India will now play Pakistan six times in the foreseeable future; that we will next play Sri Lanka (who else for novelty’s sake); that the world is waiting with bated breath for Pakistan Super League to start and that Amir, the lovable boy, will be allowed to play cricket after June this year.

To be fair to the anchor, he has steadied the boat. That this wooden contraption without oars and with several leaks plugged with dissolvable salt cubes is still somewhere in the middle of the Indian Ocean is not really of concern; the tide is turning towards shore and the patched up sail is likely to hold firm in the northerly wind. Let’s give Captain Cook-ed Up and the parrot on his shoulder the benefit of the doubt for now. But I sometimes so wonder why no channel does a PCB special every weekend. I’m sure even the Indian audience will tune in rather than tune in to Comedy Nights with Kapil.

Talking of the Indians, their Bookiegate plot is thickening. The man who weeks before had led the takeover of the cricketing world cannot now enter the BCCI headquarters. He headed the multi- billion dollar IPL till a few days ago but cannot come close to it. But hang on, Srinivasan is still the candidate for heading the ICC where the countries that shriek zero tolerance for corruption and moral upstanding, England and Australia, clap him on.

Let me get this. He is deemed by the Supreme Court of India to have deliberately looked the other way when match-fixing in IPL was brought to his notice, but the ICC feels he is still the best man to lead world cricket. Doesn’t make sense. Or does it?

For now Sunil Gavaskar is heading the IPL, while Shivlal Yadav the BCCI, both good honest men from the decades prior to the 1990s when cricket was played during a match and fixing had something to do with the loosened glass panes of the dressing room, not character. But if they think they can stop the fix, they might as well try and jog up the stairs of the Burj Al Arab.

But at least Kevin Pietersen will be seen in action this week turning out for Delhi after being dumped by London. But hold on, he drops a hint that he may well play for England again. Interesting considering Peter Moores, the man with whom KP had a public tiff which led to both their sackings, is considered the front-runner for England coach. Not since Geoff Boycott’s playing days and then Ian Botham’s, that Lord’s has found itself totally bemused. They want to be British and sacrifice pragmatism at the altar of discipline but they perhaps now understand the dilemma of the PCB during the 90’s. Every time they feel they have found the equilibrium some bloke tips the scales.

Still, there was some pleasant news. While the world, including myself, decries that the shorter format has killed the classicism of the Test Match and unfortunately will lead to early retirements for the sake of playing the leagues, there comes the pleasant news that Mitchell Johnson wants to play only Test matches. That has been the one bright spot in another week of cricket’s darkest days.

Back to the future -- again!