Cricketers are to blame too...
Cricket in Pakistan, as a rule, is never far from controversy. Be it the captaincy musical chairs game that surfaces after every other series, the lashing out of players against the PCB and its officials and the subsequent retorts from the game’s governing body, or the Board’s decision to ban or fine players and then nullify its own decision after token investigations - normalcy just does not seem to be a part of the game.
Amid the chaos, fans and casual observers usually tend to side with their heroes, the players, and renounce everything that the PCB has to say on issues inevitably leading to political involvement, which if truth be told is the root of most of our problems.
Take the recently affably resolved issue of Shahid Afridi’s NOC for county cricket. Without going into the debate of whether or not the PCB was right in denying Afridi permission to play for Hampshire, can the involvement of eminent political leaders in getting Afridi the NOC be justified by any logical argument? Surely it can’t.
What this kind of episode promotes in players is a sense that they can get away with anything as long as they have contacts in the right places, or if they are willing to apologize and pay a hefty fine after posing as revolutionaries who are out to right all the wrongs done to the cricketers of the nation, (but regressing on their word as soon as it comes to lucrative foreign league contracts!).
Now I am not saying that the PCB is being run by a group of angels, well-versed in both the art of management and the sport of cricket. There are certainly discrepancies, and severe ones at that, in the way the Board runs its affairs. First and foremost in this long list of problems is the inexplicable obsession with retaining a favored few faces despite their ‘best before’ dates having passed long ago.
These people then repay their debt to the Board and its chairman by blindly following all the PCB’s directions and by trying to run the team like a platoon of soldiers, with no one allowed to speak his mind. Pakistani selectors too have played their part in the destruction rather than re-building process which is visible only to the extent of dropping experienced players who start gaining popularity in the team and can someday be expected to speak out against the Board’s tyrannical rule.
Also, the PCB needs to stop acting like a vengeful wife would against her husband, and solve its issues with players in private with constructive dialogue, rather than banning or fining them on a whim and then bending when pressure from political circles and other power-wielding areas becomes unbearable.
In short then, both the players and the PCB have considerable room for improvement.They must consider the fact that the game of cricket is their livelihood and if it loses its appeal in people, which after the shenanigans of the last year or two, it does seem to be doing, the present luxuries that they enjoy while constantly giving out the impression that they are performing some public service for the people of Pakistan, will fast become memories of the past.
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