EDITORIAL: It’s a bit rich of PCB (Pakistan Cricket Board) to wash its own hands of any and all responsibility for the team’s unceremonious exit from the World Cup and conveniently make Babar Azam the fall guy.
Granted, the team’s performance was far from ideal, as were some of the captain’s decisions during high pressure matches, but the way the Board has taken the axe to selection and management committees and all but forced out the captain betrays the same old habit of reacting instead of acting when important decisions need to be made.
So, just like the flurry of decisions after the last failed World Cup campaign that created a lot of noise but nothing substantial in terms of results, it seems we’re about to see another round of much talk and little meaningful action.
It’s true that the captain must be the first to answer for whatever goes down on the field, good or bad. And, as a gentleman of the sport and not one to stain his sense of honour, Babar duly fell on his sword. But such grace is no good if it is not followed by serious soul-searching in the highest offices of the Board as well. And the sooner PCB reflects on some of the issues facing it, the better for Pakistani cricket.
First of all it must answer why the team was sent to India when the Indians consider it beneath themselves to tour Pakistan, causing sizable losses to PCB. And why didn’t it immediately react to the way the team was treated while it was in India, especially by their hostile media and frenzied spectators.
Then it must also explain how the team is supposed to work as a unit when there are numerous games of musical chairs going on inside the Board, from the chairman’s office to the selection committee to the management team.
For example, Babar had to work with four different chief selectors during his three or so years as captain, each with his own ideas about the composition of the team. And what possessed the present chairman to green light a shocking press release, right in the middle of the team’s string of losses, distancing himself from on-ground results and placing all burden on the captain and chief selector? He’s also reportedly behind the leak of Babar’s personal WhatsApp text messages, which if true could only have been meant to further pressure the captain when he was already negotiating numerous crises.
Also, if Babar was expected to have the decency to resign after the poor show, which he promptly did, should the chairman also show similar grace?
PCB also needs to get straight with ICC (International Cricket Council) about the attitude of Indian authorities towards the Pakistani contingent, especially delaying visas for visiting fans and journalists.
There were also reports of changing pitches in important matters at the last minute, in violation of ICC’s code of conduct, not to mention the matter of rampant betting and gambling that is now headquartered in Indian cities like Mumbai.
India’s clout, because of its huge market, is understandable in the modern setting. But it’s able to exploit that privilege, discriminate against Pakistan because of the political outlook of the country’s leadership in Delhi, and allow betting, which has been known to influence players all too often, only because nobody raises any objections with the competent authority, the ICC.
Throwing Babar, one of the finest ever to take to the field, under the bus will turn the spotlight away from the real rot in the Board for a while, but it will do no service to Pakistani cricket. The only way forward that will show results is to shake PCB itself and turn it into a modern, progressive and professional outfit, like other boards all over the world.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2023