Dawn News

The “best” of 2010

Illustration by Faraz Aamer
Illustration by Faraz Aamer

2010 will be remembered as the year Pakistan cricket finally got it right in all the wrong ways.

After years, if not decades, of relentlessly striving to reach the pinnacle of ignominy, everything awful finally came together perfectly in 2010 as the Pakistan team and its administration put on a near flawless showcase of chaos. This achievement is no mean feat for a team and administration constantly at the forefront of controversy and regularly setting the bar for public disgrace. Indeed, in the recent past we have promised and delivered years of such dizzying depths that we were at risk of becoming complacent in our own brand of, uh, excellence. After years of ball-tampering charges, embarrassing World Cup exits (http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport2/hi/cricket/6457689.stm), abrupt changes in leadership, dressing-room spats, terrorist attacks, Nasim Ashraf, drugs, bans, warts, death and more drugs, one would assume that Pakistan cricket could not possibly outdo itself any further.

How wrong we were.

In 12 months of what can only be considered a veritable tour-de-force of opprobrium, the Pakistan team and its administration put their heads together and assembled a year of such startlingly original lows that a mere fixing or doping scandal can now only be referred to as “the good old days”.

For your benefit I have sifted through the various scandals to afflict our country this past year to present you with the Top Five Scandals of 2010. Sure, there was inevitably some glory this year. We beat Australia and England overseas and mustered a few good ODIs. But why not focus on what we did best, which is to make utter spectacles of ourselves.

5. Shoaib Malik and Kamran Akmal investigated by the PCB

Coming in at last place is the on-going saga of Malik and Kamran. It speaks volumes of the quality of the top four scandals when you consider that Malik and Kamran only make it to no.5 despite their multiple misdemeanors through the course of the year. Various quarters have implicated Malik as the source of intrigue and dissension in the dressing-room, many times in concert with Kamran, and both players are considered harbingers of indiscipline. These guys are in so much trouble off the field that one tends to forget how bad they are on it, which is pretty damn bad. However that doesn’t seem to have stopped them from somehow making tons of money off their positions, a scam that the PCB seems to have belatedly picked up on.

4. Shoaib Malik’s love triangle

Say what you will about Shoaib Akhtar but, as far as we know, at least the poor guy doesn’t treat women the same way as Malik. The former skipper was apparently married to Ayesha Siddiqui, until she alarmingly discovered that he was the prince of Sania Mirza’s dreams. Apparently if you’re Hyderabadi, Malik is quite the catch and amidst much publicity, fanfare and socio-political critique a large chunk of mid-2010 was absorbed by Malik’s courtship of, and eventual nuptials with, Ms. Mirza. Their romance featured the hallmarks of all traditional love affairs – the confiscation of the paramour’s passport; the revelation of a pre-existing marriage certificate; the melodic vitriol of a right-wing nationalist political party. Truly, Romeo and Juliet ain’t got nothing on these star-crossed lovers.

3. The Lord's No-Ball Debacle

WHAT?! No.3 you say! I must be out of my mind. There is no denying that in terms of impact, prominence and system-wide repercussions, the Lord's spot-fixing scandal was off the charts. It dominated every local and international headline and will forever change the way we look at our players. But it’s precisely because of that saturation coverage that I’m relegating the scandal to mid-level stature. Frankly, I’m bored with it. In fact, the best part of the entire drama was when Veena Malik injected some life into it by accusing Asif of being a money-grubbing cad while she herself occupied the lofty position of being engaged to a US passport holder.

2. Now you see Zulqarnain, now you don’t

And just like that, poof, he was gone. The entire Zulqarnain episode was almost genius in its absurdity. Believing his life to be in mortal peril, Zulqarnain hotfooted it to England, taking the time out to succinctly explain his motivations through his facebook status: “Leaving Pakistan cricket because get bad msg fr 1 man fr lose the match in last game”. Then, safe inside a London hotel, he expressed concern over the wellbeing of his family. Wow. And here we thought Shoaib Malik was insensitive. However, Zulqarnain would never have made it to second place on this list without the support of the PCB since it’s precisely that lack of support and trust fostered by our governing body that lead to Haider resorting to his own short-sighted methods.

1. Ijaz Butt implodes

2010 was Ijaz Butt’s masterpiece. Unbeknownst to the rest of us, Butt has carefully been plotting his ascension to full-on dementia for some time now. He sowed the seeds as early as last year when he attacked Chris Broad for criticizing the PCB’s security measures just days after the venerable ICC match referee was the target of sustained gunfire. At the time we dismissed this as nationalistic posturing. Then, earlier this year, he announced a string of bans and penalties which were promptly overturned over the course of the following months. At that point the realization began to dawn on us that all may not be quite right with the old geezer. Yet nothing prepared us for Butt’s piece de resistance when he countered the various match-fixing allegations rightly leveled against our players by suggesting that it was the English team, rather, who were guilty of deliberately underperforming for financial gain. Apparently the last time Butt was chilling in bookie circles he overheard someone mention that it was the English players who were up to no good. Clearly this was sufficient basis to launch a public outburst and demand an inquiry. For this remarkable tactical foresight Butt finds himself at the top of this list. And I’m not even taking his battle of egos with Younis Khan into account which, by the way, Younis won.

So there you have it. You cannot help but be in awe of the creativity involved in delivering a year of non-stop, must-see, cry-in-shame depravity. Truly, our boys and management were misfiring on all cylinders this year. Will 2011 have any chance of matching up? Remember, that was what we feared before 2010. You underestimate this team at your own peril. Here’s to another banner year.

Happy New Year everybody.

Farooq Nomani is a Karachi-based lawyer who is willing to represent the PCB for free. He blogs at whatastupidity.blogspot.com.

The views expressed by this blogger and in the following reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the Dawn Media Group.

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Comments (30) Closed

Jan 06, 2011 07:26am
All i can say in argument to Mr. Bilal is that, if something's wrong within someone's home, wud he publisize all his problems infront of the world, or wud he try to solve the problems before they get any worse??????? as far as the team goes, am not saying that media shud speculate that our team is the best, no, that wud be a lie, but in that case, media shudnt also totally degrade our team and call them fixers even before the alegations have been proved.......
touseef ali
Dec 31, 2010 01:03pm
Awesomely magnum opus count down of Pakistani team,s miserable agonize of 2010 calender, Sir, Farooq Nomani, you should include also some of the famous victories of green shirts in the 2010, in count down shape.
Dec 31, 2010 11:44am
Yes,Mr. Nomani,PCB and Pakistani cricketers should appoint you lawyer for free.
Sana Saleem
Jan 01, 2011 11:57am
Great Post !
Rija Zaidi
Jan 01, 2011 09:06am
And what about top five positives of Pak Cricket in 2010 or you only believe spreading all negatives about this country?
Aamnah Khan
Jan 01, 2011 08:57am
Must appreciation to Mr.Blogger,u have got a very good memory of all the wrong things in a very right manner and the way the variety of scarce-examplary performances of our ever loved cricketers,including the in-out of ground deliveries are ordered i can't help smiling. May we see actual cricket in 2011 more than our cricketer's solo shows.
javed Qamer
Dec 31, 2010 07:54pm
Mr. Nomani awesome. I cannot agree with you more. I burst out laughing and have not stopped. The piece de resistance of Ijaz butt is hilarious. What is going on. Where did this confluence of stars align to bring us these jokers. The sad part is that I dont see any ray of light in this fog of misery. You and I can make fun of Ijaz Butt and company. But guess what they will be there for another two years till Zardari goes. But keep up the good work.
Jan 02, 2011 07:58am
Really Disappointing with Pak Media People Who Negative B Brain Why can't they see any Positivity in Pakistan? Really Fed Up Honestly, Whenever you switch TV on same stories and wrong message is being delivered. Are they really Pakistani by Heart. I am not talking only about Farooqi even most of them ...You Know all What i mean ?
Dec 31, 2010 10:00pm
Awesome ! Really showcases the reality! :S
Fuad Ahmad-Calgary
Jan 01, 2011 06:19am
The rot started long time back but the frequency increased after the Maulana Inzi & Hair incident. Not a series passed when our team involved themselves in some sort of a scandal like YK resigning because the Chairman did not give him time, Afridi resigning in the middle of the series and the list goes on & on. I think there is something wrong with the mental state of the team. Most of them are uneducated but then Salman Butt was highly educated as compared to others but then he got involved in match fixing. Drastic strict measures and proper orientation for every member as to how to conduct themselves in front of the media and public is required. Let us hope and pray that this series passes by scot free. Keeping my fingers crossed.
Wasim Khan
Jan 05, 2011 11:00pm
Quite sad to see Zulqarnain Haider and his dirty tricks to get asylum. Even his Lawyers dont believe him which is why he has got new ones now. There are easier ways to get into the UK on a permanent basis. He planned all this several months in advance and then worried about his family went to UK. What a joke? If he gets asylum, I will do the same thing and start telling everyone that I was approached by a woman in the local market and she told me not to buy tomatos or she will kill my family. No one else saw the Woman and the note was hand written. Zulqarnain drop this lie you are coming out with. Sadly, he realised he will NOT be playing for Pakistan cricket for long and therefore will not get a further chance to get in to UK. So he pulled this stunt and planned it well. Unfortunately he will get exposed.
Jan 09, 2011 02:48am
Please can you yourself give any positives that we don't know about? Please let us know what are the positives that we have been missing out on and only you and several other (probably dis-illusioned) Pakistanis know about. You can work on your agenda, too, spread some positivity, if you can find ANY? Please. Just saying.
Jan 09, 2011 02:43am
Exactly, Pakistanis only want to talk about the 'positives' and not look at the negatives. Especially those who have never been outside Pakistan. Stop living in your own little bubble, and accept reality as well.
Jan 01, 2011 04:26pm
From today, please start taking criticism positively. One way of progressing forward is to look back at your mistakes and learn from them, rather than looking back at victories and boasting about them.
Jan 01, 2011 04:29pm
Yeah, they may, because they want to hear only good things about them.
Dr. Salaria, Aamir Ahmad
Jan 01, 2011 06:42pm
Please let me know one good reason as to why PCB should hire your services free of charge? Secondly, why are you offering your 'free' services to PCB? In fact, nothing is free in today's global world. There must be some type, design and kind of interest involved somewhere related to your professional, social, financial, political, clan, family or other vested interests in this regard. Last but not the least, at this crucial juncture in time and history, may I suggest that you should instead concentrate on 'five or even more best achievements of Pakistani Cricket and Cricketers' instead during the just concluded historic year of 2010 like: (i) Victory against Australia in a test match after a very long time. (ii) Win against England on their own soil in a test match amid one-sided propaganda spearheaded by the British media against the 'green shirts.' (iii) Drawing of the test series against South Africa, one of the top cricket teams of today. (iv) Five wicket haul on test debut by Wahab Riaz against England on their soil. (vi) Six wicket haul on test debut by Tanvir Ahmad against South Africa and so on.
fahad mumtaz
Jan 01, 2011 06:47pm
hey rija ,,, why dont you pick out the positives ur self my dear ,, lets see how many can u stack up (compared to the ones which r mentioned over here). best of luck my freind , nobody wants to publish -ives abt their home country but there is a level od endurance and some times the dams just break in the form of tears and hatred, i suppose u live in Pakistan ,, nd i assume u havent seen how people from other countries react when they realise you are a Pakistani believe me my friend its sad nd the feeling is just awful, i hope u understand.
Jan 01, 2011 10:41pm
That was a super countdown. We live in new Zealand and often cringe in sheer awe at what the team gets up to! The worst thing is how to respond to comments made in the local papers! Oh well, thanks for the well written piece. Happy new year!
Jan 02, 2011 03:19am
It speaks volumes of the scandal filled year that the infamous ball biting incident involving Afridi was completely forgotten in the midst of everything else that happened...i mean the guy tried 2 eat a ball in front of a full house in Australia ..
Fuad Ahmad -Calgary
Jan 02, 2011 07:19am
I think you should have also mentioned the good things which was done by them. Yeah the team likes to get involved in scandals but still we have to own them like it or not.
Jan 02, 2011 10:17am
Sir I am a die hard fan of the Pakistani cricket team! but have they done anything recently for which we should praise them? they're supposed to be representatives of our country and look what they're doing! what do you want the media to do? say that they are the best team in the world? the most educated cricketer we had, salman butt, is being blamed for spot fixing! what do you want us to do?
Jan 02, 2011 07:01pm
Sir this is not the main issue at this point. Abrar is merely using it as a example of a wider injustice done to Pakistan. Every in the world (inlcuding Pakistan) the media demonizes our nation. As Abrar said why can they not see the positivity in our country? Why can they not see the potential? Why can they not see our spirit? I'm in complete agreement with Abrar I am fed up with their portrayal of us. How difficult would it be to find the good? It is a shame that nobody feels the urge to properly portray to the rest of the world.
Jan 03, 2011 03:07am
I don't think that the Shoaib Malik saga was a 'scandal' for 'Pakistan Cricket.' It definitely was one for Shoaib Malik himself, but what he does in his personal life is his own business, his own scandal. This is one dirt that the much muddied waters of Pakistan crikcet must be seen separately from.
Jan 03, 2011 06:10am
Agreed most of the Pakistanis are in the propaganda of west to make Pakistanis hopeless they can't see positive things cause they are not allowed to do so nor they got wisdom too see vast picture.....but its unfortunate to see educated Pakistanis talking about rubbish propaganda against Pakistan....
Jan 03, 2011 06:34am
Great!!! Thats what i called a better conclusion for Pakistan Cricket this is the way to see the glass half full be optimistic guys i don't know why people are so frustrated when it comes to Great Pakistan, still i feel that Pakistan is the great nation in this world... one more addition.... women Cricket win of Gold Medal in Asian games..
Jan 03, 2011 09:31am
Very well said, I totally agree Abrar.
Jan 06, 2011 09:59am
"Wrong" message? What "right" message can be delivered if someone is accused of fixing sport? We need to get out of this ostrich mentality and face ourselves in the mirror. The first step towards solving a problem...is to realize that there IS a problem. Every journalistic piece will have an agenda (read: should have). This is not a 6th grade essay competition where you right "pros and cons" of something. Because this way, in the end the reader will just sum up that ok; this this this was wrong AND this this this was right, so overall we are doing just fine (and thats the illusional construct of puny feeble mind that we are living in) We need to see the picture, complete. If someone is pointing out our mistakes, its for everyone of us (including the one writing) to ponder how to rectify. And when someone paints the good that we are doing thats for us to be motivated...so we can use this motivation to do the above (i.e. rectify the bad)
Jan 06, 2011 09:37am
Mr Farooq, dont you find any thing positive in Pakistani team last year or ever, I am afraid what sort of Negative mentality/ thinking you have or working on some agend. The things you have mentioned are already very much milked by people like you. For God sake, come on now leave it as it is past, talk about good things, better future be positive pleaseeeeeeeeee......
Jan 17, 2011 05:38am
It made me laugh to look on the miserable condition of the administration of PCB including the Chief Patron. But believe when we search for the entire root of defects and faults,we found ourselves in mirror in some way or the other.So,don't blame others until you made yourselves "Perfect".
Fawad Siddiqui
Jan 28, 2011 12:25pm
Two steps would make Pakistan Cricket much better: 1)Remove the chairman(Ijaz Butt) 2)Adopt a strict policies and rules for the discipline of players.