It’s no secret that the rot in Pakistan cricket runs deep. Infighting and other forms of politicking, not to mention the spectre of match-fixing, have retarded the game’s progress for nearly two decades now. But even the most battle-scarred of fans have been dismayed by the team’s recent performance and even more so by the possible reasons behind it.

In February this year an inquiry committee was set up by the Pakistan Cricket Board to pinpoint the reasons behind the team’s poor showing in Australia and other recent series. The committee’s report subsequently led to heavy penalties being imposed on seven key players. At the time the PCB was adamant that the findings would remain confidential, a move that drew scathing criticism from many analysts. Now the committee’s report has been ‘leaked’ to the media by none other than the PCB itself. No surprises here given that the board pulls off more flip-flops than the number of catches the team takes in any given match.
The real shocker lies in allegations that many amongst those who represented the country in recent months struggled to even coexist. Intikhab Alam, who was the team coach during the period under review, told the inquiry that he felt the players are “mentally retarded people” who “don’t know how to wear their clothes [or] talk in a civilised manner”. But this crude, purely personal, wholly ambiguous and possibly libellous condemnation does not in any way explain the team’s debacles on the field. Far more disturbing are the allegations of constant infighting as well as feigned illnesses or injuries. Former captain Shoaib Malik, who has long been described as the leading troublemaker in the team, was singled out by Mr Alam for fomenting rifts within the ranks. Aaqib Javed added Younis Khan, Mohammad Yousuf and Shahid Afridi to the list of ‘nuisances’.

Players’ attitudes may leave a lot to be desired but then the same is true of board and team officials. The PCB inquiry conveniently absolved the board of all responsibility for the fiasco in Australia even though its affairs have been in a mess under Ijaz Butt. Was this not the same PCB that first caved into ‘player power’ and soon thereafter vowed to eliminate it? The timing of Friday’s leak also raises eyebrows: could it be that the PCB, fearing the team’s early exit from the T20 World Cup, is again trying to deflect attention from itself by highlighting the real or perceived misdeeds of the players? House-cleaning is in order all around but the first stop for the crew should be Ijaz Butt’s office.

Dawn News