March 15, 2010

Ijaz Butt on lookout for a new captain


By Syed Khalid Mahmood

Ijaz Butt has now started having parleys with the prospective captains. The only positive aspect in this whole exercise is the fact that the chairman of the so-called Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) has openly declared having met the candidates he had in mind as the future leader of the team.

He has also come out in the open that being the chairman of the PCB he held the prerogative of choosing the captain and he was going to make the decision himself. Will he care to explain did he ever consult anyone before taking the decisions that were not meant to be taken by him all alone?

Well sky is the limit for Ijaz Butt as far as bringing the Pakistan cricket to repute is concerned. He is not afraid to commit blunders after blunders, oblivious of the fact that he was dealing with the affairs of a national body not his own proprietary concern.

Ijaz Butt has used the vehicle of a selection committee to have the squad announced that would represent Pakistan in the ICC Twenty20 Championship due to start in the Caribbean in about six months time.

There was hardly any sense in having the squad finalized well before the deadline. Neither was there any logic in delaying the appointment of the captain for such an important assignment.

Wouldn’t have it looked proper to have the captain on board while selecting the team. Obviously the majority of the players are automatic choices and the fringe cases are the ones deliberated. The input of the skipper who will have the responsibility of leading the team in the field would have been so crucial.

Ijaz Butt is not tired of experimentation yet. By delaying the appointment of the captain he has passed the impression that he desires taking time before arriving at the decision that indeed holds the key to the immediate future of Pakistan cricket.

Shoaib Malik was the captain and former Australian fast bowler Geoff Lawson was the coach when Ijaz Butt had taken over as the chairman of the PCB in the autumn of 2008. Since both these appointments were made by his predecessor, Dr Nasim Ashraf, there was not much element of surprise when he terminated the contract of Lawson rather controversially first up.

Shoaib, as expected, was the first choice as captain when Sri Lanka, not India, came to tour Pakistan in early 2009. With mismanagement at the top beginning to resurface it was a matter of time for the indiscipline to rattle the team. There was so much chaos after defeats in just a couple of One-day Internationals that Ijaz Butt had to move it to install Younis Khan as the captain for the Test series.

The temperamental Younis wasn’t extended the desired support by Ijaz Butt when he needed it most and he obliged Mohammad Yousuf with captaincy for the tour of New Zealand and Australia with Shahid Afridi getting the nod for Twenty20 Internationals. Yousuf was sacked before tour was over.

Younis, Yousuf and Shoaib are out of the equation now with Ijaz Butt having banned them for offences yet to be made public. Shahid has also been fined. But he is still in the run for the honour. Misbah-ul-Haq and Abdul Razzaq are other front runners to lead the side. Ijaz Butt can also nominate Salman Butt for the job.

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Ijaz Butt creates unprecedented mess by banning, fining cricketers


By Syed Khalid Mahmood

Ijaz Butt has been getting away with it all the time. He takes pride in declaring it more and more emphatically through his actions that he’s above board. While the others are accountable and punishable there seems no force on earth at the moment that could even contain the might of the chairman of an organization called the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB).

Controversies have remained part and parcel of the Pakistan cricket all along but never before the law has been taken in the hands in this manner by the person who is supposed to be the torch-bearer.

There used to be odd incidents even in the days of Abdul Hafeez Kardar and Air Marshal Nur Khan but very rarely one found them getting into the act unnecessarily. They were the people for whom the national interest was paramount.

Unfortunately the national interest has been compromised by the people with the vested interests in the recent past but Ijaz Butt has exceeded all limits and only God knows how much greater damage he will cause before someone realizes his follies and fixes him.

May be, during his tenure, he would like to push Pakistan to the bottom among the Test playing nations in the manner not too dissimilar to the national hockey team that crashed in the recently concluded World Cup in India.

Ijaz Butt’s action of banning and fining cricketers has come as a shocker. More than anything else he appears to have settled scores with the players whom he considered a threat to his authority.

It’s not the issue that some of the celebrated cricketers have been banned or fined. Indeed nobody is above the law and anyone engaged in indiscipline needs to be tried and heard. The law has to take its course and the offenders have to be punished if found guilty.

Doesn’t the same apply to the team management, who were meant to control these guys? Doesn’t Ijaz Butt or his committee that recommended the severe punishment be also tried for having made a mess at the top?

The initial announcement implied that former captains Younis Khan and Mohammad Yousuf were banned for life. It was clarified later that the period was ‘indefinite’ and that it was not a life ban.

Shoaib Malik, another former captain, and all-rounder Naved-ul-Hasan have been banned for a year. Fines have been imposed on Shahid Afridi, Kamran Akmal and Umar Akmal.
Ijaz Butt is not prepared to reveal why these cricketers have been penalized so heavily. They are national assets, not the personal servants of the PCB Chairman whom he could take for a ride whenever he pleases.

If the cricketers have committed sins that were indeed ‘unpardonable’ then they must be made public. Ijaz Butt doesn’t have the right to play around with the emotions of the masses who simply love the game.

The Pakistan cricket is in the middle of another crisis and this seems most serious of them all. It’s another horrible example of bad management by a dictator.

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