Players eyeball PCB into submission

February 1, 2015

The fact that the central contracts’ list was already biased with someone like Sarfraz Ahmed being put in lowest category was in itself an embarrassment; but to play around with the senior players at a stage where the World Cup is a breath away was ridiculous

Players eyeball PCB into submission

Much has been made of the potential ghost in Haris Sohail’s hotel room that scared him to the extent that he had to abandon his room in the middle of the night. But what is truly jolting the player and his colleagues is the metaphysical presence there of the PCB arrogance and mismanagement. That is what is really shaking the beds of the cricketers.

As if it was not enough to mess up the run in to the World Cup by leaving the issue of alternate captaincy to the tour selection committee and sending in an all-rounder to replace a strike bowler; they have now shaken up the players with the contracts issue. A simple face-to-face meeting with each player before the departure would have been enough to clarify where each stood on the contracts issue. The fact that it was already biased with someone like Sarfraz Ahmed being put in lowest category was in itself an embarrassment; but to play around with the senior players at a stage where the World Cup is a breath away was ridiculous.

This is how well-meaning sponsors are lost, in fact, have been over the past few years. Unilateral communication is considered enough to close the issue on hand and if there is any disagreement it is considered tantamount to dissent. That under Shaharyar Khan the one salvo from the players was enough for surrender at Gaddafi Stadium has not surprised me. He is not the man of Kardarian stature who would take on player riposte with chest forward approach. So the players are right if PCB is now to be understood. Then why did they have this approach toward the contracts in the first place?

There was no harm in having a one-year duration of the contract rather than limit it to three months till the end of the World Cup. No one has retired just yet. When they would at the end of the World Cup the contract could have been revised; it would have been so easy by inserting a clause. Limiting the duration to three months though raises uncertainty for the long term in the minds of the cricketers. And allowing it to do so at this juncture, with the team on tour and the World Cup less than two weeks away, is plain stupidity.

After all Shahid Afridi has said he intends to play Twenty20 cricket and Misbah-ul-Haq wants to continue in Tests. Younis Khan wants to play both. Once the World Cup was out of the way the picture would have been clearer as to where each player stands. And these are cricketers who have served Pakistan cricket for over two decades. What’s another nine months of pay even if they were to play half their expected cricket in the year 2015?

Coming up with such clauses and with annoying terms and conditions at a totally inopportune hour and after the team has left Pakistan shores is what causes distractions among Pakistani players; and discord amongst them if any juniors or even a senior contemplates another approach than what the majority is pulling toward.

It also results in poor imagery for the players. After all some are asking, shouldn’t they be concentrating on the World Cup rather than on money matters? Of course they should but have you ever tried to concentrate on work if you are suddenly given an extension in contract till the end of the project when normally you are on a one year contract?

As it is Pakistan has stumbled somewhat in their team preparations. It was expected from a Pakistani side to start experimenting from the word go and figuring out so close to the World Cup what their batting combination is going to be. But to lose after posting over 300 must have shook Waqar Younis and Mushtaq Ahmed especially, and given Moin some self-doubt about the bowlers he has selected. It wasn’t too encouraging too for the bowlers in the second round against the President’s XI. Considering it was a ‘B’ side, maybe even ‘C’, it is frightening that they won each time chasing what were good scores.

Important to note Bilawal Bhatti did not play the opening game, whereas the tour selectors had promised that they will play him in every game to check out the all-rounder’s capabilities. He did reasonably well though when he played in the second game. How he performs against the two ODIs against New Zealand will probably lock the decision on whether he goes into the World Cup. I don’t think the PCB will take a decision on Junaid Khan till the week before the World Cup is to begin so Bhatti may just get himself permanently installed if he does well in both the ODIs against New Zealand.

But happy to see Misbah back to full fitness. And what better way than to score almost two hundred runs at a strike rate of almost 100. Yes, it was a second string side but I’m not talking of runs as much as the fact that he stood there so long and ran singles and doubles. That indicates the hamstring has seen history hopefully. Also good to see Umar Akmal among the runs. He is a player who should benefit from the bounce of the pitches and the pace at which the ball comes on to the bat and seems to be on the way to proving it.

Pakistan hasn’t had the run up it would have wanted though, playing only two ODIs in the eight weeks before the World Cup.

Poor effort at bilateral planning it must be said. It is the only team out of the top eight who have not had a decent number of games during this period. While they can be excused at not being accommodated by the Big Three who have had their private party in the form of a tri-series, West Indies and South Africa have closed with a five ODI rubber and Sri Lanka have been in New Zealand over the past full month now ending with a seven-game ODI series.

It exposes how unsighted and careless were the planners in PCB through the last year. It was well known for over four years that the World Cup was to be held in Australia and New Zealand so booking in advance could have been possible as early as 2012 so Zaka Ashraf’s tenure also comes under scrutiny. Even recently, Sri Lanka and South Africa were on the side of Pakistan most of the while arguing with the Big Three and Pakistan could have managed to maneuver themselves into South African grounds at least where the pitches and conditions are very similar to Australia as is the competition. But clearly the opportunity has been lost; a couple of outings against President’s XI and two ODI’s are what we get.

Players eyeball PCB into submission