By Syed Khalid Mahmood
It’s an open secret that skipper Younis Khan and manager Yawar Saeed were not having eye to eye contact for a long time and the gulf between the two had widened to the stage that one of them had to quit.
The soft spoken Yawar, as everybody knew, had been brought in as manager due to non-cricketing reasons. His strong political connections and personal friendship with the Chairman of the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB), Ijaz Butt, had earned him the slot that in the opinion of many he didn’t deserve in the first place.
Yawar has had the reputation of being a cool-headed gentleman who seldom talks nonsense. He had held managerial positions with the national cricket team in the past as well but that indeed was very long time ago.
The appointment of Ijaz Butt as the Chairman of the PCB last autumn opened the floodgates for Yawar and he was back in the thick of the things. Apparently he didn’t have problems working with Shoaib Malik who was the captain of the team at the time of his induction as manager.
The equation and the situation changed when Younis Khan was installed as the skipper during the home series against Sri Lanka. There was so scandal or drama initially but the observers had noted that Younis and Yawar were not on same wavelength.
The friends of Younis then reckoned that Yawar was associated with the team with the mission of toppling the skipper. The buzz was that Yawar was actually there to ‘spy’ for the PCB Chairman and report the movements of all the players directly to him confidentially.
The differences between Younis and Yawar started to become more obvious during the tour of Sri Lanka and it appeared a matter of time for one of them to bite the dust upon the return of the team.
Yawar was reportedly backing Shahid Afridi to take over the reigns that indeed infuriated Younis and it was about time for the showdown.
The fate of Younis was hanging in balance after the unexpected loss to New Zealand in the semifinals of the ICC Champions Trophy and his injury was not helping matters either. Yawar was all set to accompany the national team as manager for the upcoming contests against New Zealand.
Ijaz Butt’s last one-to-one meeting with Younis changed the scenario and the PCB Chairman succumbed to the pressures of the skipper whom he delegated the powers he had been asking for.
Only time will tell if the PCB Chairman’s decision to empower Younis was a correct one or it would turn out to be yet another blunder. Yawar, meanwhile, has become a casualty, and he has been replaced by Abdul Raqeeb.
Younis has won the first round. In fact he has managed to kill two birds with a single shot. By having Yawar removed, he paved the way for one of his benefactors to be obliged.
Abdul Raqeeb, a former left-arm spinner, has been heading the sports department of Habib Bank for quite sometime. He must be feeling at the top of the world now as both the captain and the vice-captain of the national team are his associates at the bank and hold him in very high esteem.
October 24, 2009