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Comment: Is turnaround of Pakistan cricket beyond current PCB regime?

Comment: Is turnaround of Pakistan cricket beyond current PCB regime?

So it is clear now. The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chairman Shaharyar Khan is all set to continue in his job and has no intention to quit, at least for now.

Pakistan cricket, however, cannot by any means continue like the way it has in recent times.

A series of humiliating defeats for the national team — primarily on the limited-overs front, brazen blunders by the national selectors, reports of groupings within the team, a wilting captain and a coach with no inspiration — all this has put the game in a quagmire.

While Pakistan have plummeted alarmingly, several other teams including second-tier cricketing nations have stepped up their game.

If we look around, New Zealand are the team who during the past two years have progressed by leaps and bounds — not just in the T20s but in all formats — thanks to Brendon McCullum’s phenomenal services.

England’s comprehensive overhaul after their nightmarish World Cup campaign in Australia-New Zealand last year has vaulted them into the game’s top business zone.

Bangladesh have been consistently raising their limited-overs game since last year and even the non-Test playing outfits from the UAE and Afghanistan have of late demonstrated marked improvement in the shortest format.

So what’s next for Pakistan cricket?

Head coach Waqar Younis, while apologising on Tuesday for the team’s shambolic performance at the World T20, has offered to quit the post by saying that “if my leaving as coach makes things better, then I would do it without delay”.

However, it appears to be a tentative expression from him. Needless to say if Waqar cannot be held wholly responsible for the team’s downward spiral in limited-overs contests, he cannot escape his share of the blame either.

It is in the air that some prominent former Test cricketers have been invited by the PCB to give their input on how to steer Pakistan cricket out of the present mess, which reached its peak at the Asia Cup Twenty20 and then the World Twenty20.

But the major questions that arise are: is the current PCB regime actually realising the gravity of the precarious situation our cricket is in today?

If some logical recommendations come from the former stalwarts, will they be given proper and due significance by the decision-making authorities of the cricket board?

And on top of it all, who will give the guarantee that these recommendations (if only accepted) will be implemented in letter and spirit?

These are vital and very fundamental queries. But unfortunately given the culture of our cricket set-up there are huge doubts these would be addressed by our cricket administrators appropriately.

Also, one doesn’t expect professional or wise decisions in a scenario where the PCB Governing Board — the prime decision-making body of the organisation — does not have a single cricketing member in its fold.

Taking a quick glance at the past, it becomes quite obvious that more often than not, key cricket-related decisions taken in various meetings are hardly ever implemented and get buried under piles of dust.

In the end, it all damages Pakistan cricket and its stakeholders, particularly hurting the promising players.

All genuine cricket enthusiasts remember well how the matter of hiring former captain Rashid Latif — one of the cleanest and most competent cricketing figures of the country — as chief selector was grossly mismanaged by the PCB some two years ago.

Rashid, who has been running academies in Karachi and Lahore and in Haripur near Swabi, could do a lot for Pakistan cricket betterment but regrettably that was provided a fair opportunity to do so.

The former Test wicket-keeper’s cricketing acumen can be gauged from the fact that his academies set-up over the years have been functioning successfully without any government support and have produced several talented players.

Another such case that can be cited is that of master of reverse swing Sarfraz Nawaz who a few years ago had gone to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and some of the tribal areas on a talent hunt scheme managed by the PCB.

Having spotted a number of tall, well-built fast bowlers from the rugged terrain, Sarfraz was keen to see them getting some good training and guidance and was hopeful about their tremendous potential.

However, the effort was not followed up for reasons best known to the PCB and the team is now clearly struggling to find any top-class pacers to partner Mohammad Amir. There are many more such incidents that one can recall but is anyone really listening?

If Shaharyar, executive committee chairman Najam Sethi and other high-ups of the Board are genuinely interested in resurrecting Pakistan cricket fortunes, they will be well advised to take some bold decisions and to uphold merit at all costs.

That may require getting rid of the likes of Haroon Rasheed, Intikhab Alam and a few others who have lost their utility in the board and are not contributing anything substantial to Pakistan cricket.

However, as things stand today in the PCB, there is not much light at the end of the tunnel.

As regards Shahid Afridi, one strongly feels that the struggling all-rounder should leave the scene at once to help Pakistan cricket move ahead.

Published in Dawn, March 30th, 2016

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