The fault in our stars

Published Aug 03, 2015 02:38pm

Cricket is an obsession that cuts across age, gender, class and any other construct that you throw at it, and its presence is as ubiquitous as the weather – even those apathetic to it can’t help but be aware of the din it creates. Yet when it comes to discussing how cricket is run in the country, the focus borrows heavily from the talkshow format of dissecting political events. Individuals, particularly the chairman of the PCB, are seen as defining entire institutions. Notions of efficiency and performance are almost always judged on immediate results. Any exposé’ is limited to revelations of high salaries paid to ex-players, or certain journalists earning favours from the cricket board.

Ultimately however, while such revelations are condemnable, they also rather petty in the grand scheme of things.

Modern sport has increasingly become one of the most lucrative enterprises in the world, and sports bodies are expected to be run along corporate standards. There is doubtlessly a certain soullessness to this approach, but that discomfort doesn’t stop it from being a reality. And in such a world, the ability to be commercially successful and intuitionally viable is the basic prerequisite for any functioning sports team.

The following three reports are meant to provide an insight into the sort of problems bedevilling Pakistan cricket at the moment which threaten not just the national team’s form, but the health of the sport itself. They were conducted based on dozens of interviews both currently and formerly with the PCB, ex-players as well as members of the current national side, various representatives of commercial partners involved in Pakistani cricket and experts in the game.

Two of these stories, written by Hassan Cheema, are about the quality and standards of the very basic facets of the game – the pitches and the balls. Given that these are the basic tools with which all cricket is constructed with, their quality obviously impacts the quality of the players being produced. The third story, by Rehan-ul-Haq Sardar, explores the details behind the recent apparel deals secured by the board, and how it reflects on the board’s general commercial efforts.

It is hoped that these pieces would inspire a great incisiveness into trying to understand the importance of running cricket in a modern way. Rather than focusing on personal attacks and vindictive agendas, it would be far more useful to have open, honest discussions on solving cricket’s problems.

Barren strips

Music isn’t the only place where you have to be pitch-perfect

By Hassan Cheema

On its website the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) describes itself as “the governing body for cricket in Pakistan” and “responsible for the promotion and expansion of the game.” As a claim, it sounds impressive, but as the current state of cricket in Pakistan shows, or for that matter, the near miss on qualifying for the 2017 Champions Trophy shows, the PCB have fallen short of the job description they have defined for themselves.

The product that they are protecting and selling is not merely the international team but everything that leads up to it too. Alas it’s only when the performances at the top begin to decline that the world starts to notice all that is wrong underneath. And right now Pakistani cricket has reached a stage where it is prudent to question everything in the status quo.

After all, the state of the team has not been achieved in isolation, and what it is going through today is not a blip. Instead, it is the fruits of decades of negligence and short-termism which have brought the game in the country to this point.

Under the PCB’s purview fall two aspects of cricket, both of which the Board have sworn to protect: pitches and the balls used for the domestic game. Away from the myopia of immediacy, it is these two factors that explain the steady decline of professional cricket in Pakistani cricket.

“In England, a pitch is used for 10-12 days over the course of two seasons. In Australia, this number is in single digits. In both countries, after about 60 days of cricket, the top layers of soil of a pitch are removed and a new pitch is laid. None of this happens in Pakistan,” explains former Test batsman Bazid Khan.

“Our grounds have cricket played on them regularly for eight months a year. The same pitch is used twice or more in a month. We don’t even have any first-class centres earmarked to be protected in the first place,” he argues.

Bazid, together with his father Majid, has presented a detailed proposal several times to the PCB, to overhaul the way the game is run in the country. Bazid played domestic cricket in Pakistan from the late 90s till 2012; perhaps he could have played more, perhaps less, but none of that affects him now — he is currently on what started as a one-man crusade against the lack of quality cricket infrastructure in the country, but has now turned into a movement of sorts.

To hear Bazid talk about infrastructure in England or Australia is to hear a man talk of his beloved, and one that he will never unite with. His proposal, that he has tabled to the PCB repeatedly, includes an economically feasible plan to revamp cricket in Pakistan, beginning with the pitches and the balls.

Much like everything else in this country that proposal has been affected by red tape, bureaucracy, higher ups who don’t think it’s in their interests, a lobby which wants to protect the status quo and a culture that wants messiahs rather than institutions that work.

“Islamabad, for instance, has only three or four grounds which are used for everything from school and club cricket to first class cricket. We play our cricket in the winter – unlike England, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa – so our pitches would require even more days off for rest,” explains Bazid.

“Instead, we have matches with gaps of hardly a day or two. Even if our pitches were re-laid every three years, constant usage would damage them too much. What we get in the end are uneven, substandard tracks, which results in Pakistan being unable to produce good batsmen or wicketkeepers,” he argues. “It makes seamers complacent too. Whereas once our flat, true wickets led to every domestic team wanting and needing a couple of express pace bowlers now all you need are wicket to wicket bowlers and the pitches will do the rest. Every problem in Pakistan can find its root in this one thing no one wants to talk about.”

Those thoughts are echoed by Shadab Kabir, former Pakistan cricketer and currently a coach at Port Qasim Authority’s cricket team, which finished third in the Quaid-i-Azam Trophy this year. Shadab, much like Bazid, has played league cricket in England and observed their system up close. He has also been involved in Pakistan cricket over these last two decades when the quality of domestic cricket has allegedly dropped. He believes he knows the reasons for this.

“I’ve been involved in Pakistani cricket for 20, 25 years now” says Shadab, “and things have only declined in this time period. Karachi has probably half a dozen grounds which are used for first-class cricket, and yet nearly all those grounds are also used by corporate teams. All the grounds are second-rate and overused. Even little things like the quality of covers or the treatment of the square aren’t up to standard. That is all before you even begin to question whether the ground staffs, particularly the curators, have any qualification or training for their jobs. As far as I am aware, that’s not really the practice out here.”

For Shadab, the concerns go beyond just the playing field though. “I know of instances where players refused to use the washroom at the ground, instead preferring to go back to their hotels, because the ones in the ground were unusable. That’s not something cricketers in other countries have to worry about, you know.”

Port Qasim finished last year just one victory away from playing the final of the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy Gold League, the premiere first class competition in the country. This was done mostly on the backs of Sohail Khan and Abdur Rauf, the most potent pair in the domestic game last season.

When I asked Shadab about them during the season, beyond the platitudes that a coach gives his players, he did show concern at how much their wickets had been dependent on the surfaces they played on.

For him these are things that can be solved by bringing money into the first class game. He, like so many others involved in Pakistani cricket – those who pine for better days, looks to PCB’s coffers and questions why the trickle-down effect isn’t even a fantasy here.

It’s something that the PCB, perhaps after constant needling, has realised is an issue worth focusing on.

Intikhab Alam, the incumbent director of domestic cricket at the PCB, talks at length about the changes the Board is making from next season onwards. “One of the things we’ve started doing from last season is to have as much of our cricket in December and January in Karachi and the south,” says Intikhab.

“Even the new system we are bringing in is informed by this. Last season, we had more than a 100 first-class matches. This season we are reducing that to between 50 and 60. This will give the ground staff time to prepare the wickets and the grounds, and will also give breathing space to teams, umpires, etc,” says Intikhab. “The aim here is to make our cricket as competitive as possible. What we want pitches which are firm, have grass, and help the spinners by the last couple of days – pitches which provide everyone a chance.”

The quality of pitches is something current Pakistan players complain about too. Shan Masood, for instance, talks of how his numbers would be far better if he played the majority of his cricket in Karachi rather than in north and central Punjab at the height of winter, when both swing and seam are easier to do than keeping yourself warm.

In theory, what Intikhab says sounds like the solution to all these problems but the current state of the wickets came about with similarly noble intentions. In the early 2000s, a directive was sent out by the PCB to all the cricket grounds in the country asking for wickets that helped seamers. The logic behind it being that this would improve fast bowling and the techniques of batsmen facing them. In practice it resulted in uneven, substandard pitches that have made first-class cricket into a crapshoot, ex players say.

In December, 2013, the Jinnah Stadium in Sialkot hosted two matches which both included Port Qasim. The first saw over 1,000 runs scored and ended with Port Qasim chasing down 144 in the fourth innings at a run a ball to win against ZTBL. The second saw the same team lose to Habib Bank, after collapsing to 65 and 163 when batting. The pitch had four days of rest between the two games.

Just a few weeks prior to that, consecutive matches held at the Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore resulted in similarly disparate outcomes. In the first, WAPDA were playing for a draw on the final day against Port Qasim. Then, less than a week later, Port Qasim would win by innings in a match where they failed to score 200.

All four matches involved Shadab’s Port Qasim side, proving that either they are more inconsistent than Pakistan team of the 90s, or that his fears regarding his players were true all along, and the result or even the style of a match is completely dependent on if there is a possibility for a good pitch or not.

More often than not though, that isn’t a likelihood — as proven by the fact that in the President’s Trophy 2012/13, only 10 of the 56 matches (including the final) resulted in combined scores in excess of 1,000 runs over four days, which are considered par elsewhere in the world.

The PCB’s attempts to solve this crisis centres on trying to hide statistical anomalies, as they did in 2014/15 with a first-class competition that had vast differences in quality amongst teams with both departmental and regional teams playing together. This resulted in the discussion centring on the quality disparity at the top level, rather than the lack of quality infrastructure.

Then there is the question of soil used: a current Pakistan player, speaking on condition of anonymity, narrated the tale of a curator who wanted to relay his pitch with soil that had clay content in excess of 50 per cent. What he got instead was soil with clay content of less than 10 per cent, because – and this is the crucial bit – it was cheaper. Obviously, this curator refuses to get his name out in public in fear of losing his job.

But Haji Bashir, who has been the curator at Gaddafi for decades, has no such concerns. He reassured Dawn that the PCB is finally on board in improving the pitches under their control – from soil tests to less usage of pitches is in the offing. He pointed to the pitches prepared for the Zimbabwe series as proof that the board is moving away from what has dogged the domestic game. Perhaps this could be the small step that becomes the snowball that changes everything, but it’s not something Shadab or Bazid are reassured with. For them, the plans of mice, men and PCB all have similar results.

The reason for the pessimism is that this is nothing new. Bazid tells the story of England’s 2005 tour to Pakistan when Steven Harmison wondered aloud how different the pitches for the side matches were compared to the ones they played their Test matches on. England were bowled out for under 130 twice in their two side matches, and yet their lowest score in the Tests was 175 (in completed innings) despite both Danish Kaneria and Shoaib Akhtar being pretty much near their peaks. In fact England played more overs in the first innings of each of the first two Tests than they did in their two innings in the side matches. The change from one style of cricket to another was one that England struggled with, yet it’s one every single Pakistani player has to deal with.

The simple fact is that just soil testing will not be enough. Not only do pitches throughout the country need to be relaid but everything around it has to be protected and improved too. Instead of bringing its major grounds to the twenty first century, the PCB, in recent years, has been far more inclined to make more nineteenth century grounds. Instead of protecting these grounds as sacred institutions where only the highest forms of the game are played, these grounds are home to whoever wants to play there, as long as the price is right.

The issue of pitches cannot be solved by any short term measures – both the soil and everything around it, the complete infrastructure around the game, would need to be prioritized far more than it is now, and would require changes in the schedule and a deeper understanding of the role of a curator. But what the PCB can affect immediately is the quality of balls being used in the domestic game.

‘Is it reversing?’

The legendary Pakistani pace bowling assembly line seems to have caught a snag as they’re left to play with substandard equipment

Earlier this year, the higher ups at the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) summoned skipper Misbah-ul-Haq for a meeting on how cricket in Pakistan could be improved. This led to a 40-minute meeting, claim PCB sources, with Misbah intent on driving home a single point: the quality of balls being used in first-class cricket needed to change as soon as possible.

Domestic cricket in Pakistan employs balls manufactured by Grays, a Pakistani company that is listed in the Karachi and Lahore stock exchanges. The Grays ball has attracted a lot of ire from a lot of current and former players, as it is often too soft and its leather and seams come apart too easily.

“Our pitches started changing during General Tauqir Zia’s tenure, but it’s actually the balls that have affected the quality of cricket,” explains former Test batsman Mohammad Wasim. “Until 10 or 12 years ago, we used local balls that were hard as a rock all innings long. That was the ball we grew up with, the sort of ball that wouldn’t deteriorate for 100 overs. And that’s what produced all the guys from my generation and the one before that. Then the authorities started experimenting.”

As part of the experimentation, the Naseem Ashraf-led PCB brought back imported Kookaburra balls for one season.

“In that season, over 130 hundreds were scored in the domestic game, when the average number is closer to 40. But since then, they have returned to Grays’ balls, which they claim are replicas of the Kookaburra,” says Wasim. “But these I feel, along with most guys I played with, that these are substandard balls. I can tell you of instances in Pindi alone when the seam has given way or the leather torn up within the first 15 overs. How can you train your youngsters for the highest level with such equipment?”

In principle, what is produced at the domestic level should also be replicated at the international level. Nearly every major country uses the same balls in its domestic first class competition as international matches that they host — something that ends up actually contributing to their home advantage.

In India, for example, the SG ball is used for Tests and Ranji Trophy; in Australia and New Zealand, it is the Kookaburra ball; while England has both Duke’s and Reader.

Pakistan, though, doesn’t follow the same principles. The past decade or so has led to several ball changes, including one season with the Kookaburra as the ball of choice in the first-class game. But when Pakistan play their international cricket, the ball used is almost always not the one used in first-class cricket.

“The problem with the Grays ball isn’t only that it’s faulty but that it poses questions that no one else has to answer,” argues former Test batsman Bazid Khan. “Grays swings naturally more than any other ball in the world, and so, what you get is guys like Ehsan Adil who are world beaters with the Grays balls but fail to make a mark on the international stage where they have to play with the Kookaburra.”

The solution, according to Bazid, is consistency.

“If you are going to keep the Grays ball in the domestic game, then the least you could do is introduce that Grays ball for your Test matches too. All these players who perform so well in domestic can then fully translate their domestic performances to the international stage. But the PCB will never do that, because using it in a Test match would actually make people care about the quality of the ball, and they know they will be exposed when that happens.”

Such assertions are in stark contrast to what officials at the PCB claim.

Sitting in his Gaddafi Stadium office, PCB Domestic Cricket Director Intikhab Alam holds up two balls, Super Match and Avenger, both manufactured by Grays. He details all the changes between these two balls — the quality of leather [that for the Super Match is being imported from England; for the Avenger, the leather is locally produced], the cork of the ball, and the quality of the seam.

“From next season, the Super Match ball will be used in the Pakistani domestic game. Before, we used the Avenger,” says Alam, proudly claiming that instituting this change has been his crusade since he took over as the domestic cricket director. Rubbishing most of the claims made by Wasim and Bazid, he accuses them of being “biased individuals, who don’t realise the changes being made right now.”

“The torn up leather or seam generally happen because players themselves tear them off, often because they are unable to get that specific ball to reverse,” argues Alam. “It’s not as if other balls, Kookaburra included, don’t produce the odd faulty ball.”

In December 2014, Alam had spoken to the media about how the quality of locally-manufactured cricket balls that were being used in the season had improved, and therefore, that there was no need for the PCB to adopt costly imported balls.

Since imported leather was being used to manufacture the new balls, Alam had explained, the cost of the ball had almost doubled — from Rs1,250 to Rs2,500. And yet, this price was only a fraction of the Kookaburra ball, which costs Rs25,000.

“The PCB has worked very closely with Grays to develop this new ball, the Super Match. It is a Test-match quality ball, it is comparable in quality to the Kookaburra and the Duke balls despite costing half as much. We will continue working with the manufacturers to prove the doubters wrong,” asserts Alam.

Why the PCB was using Grays’ second tier ball for its first-class cricket is a question no one is willing to answer though, with Alam instead focusing on the fact that the changes have been made already. Several PCB officials declined to answer why is it that after five years of using the previous balls, the PCB has now decided that they weren’t good enough. Grays declined to comment on the story.

Meanwhile, in the Faisalabad region, where Misbah has the most clout, officials have initiated attempts to change the substandard balls dynamic. A petition has already been signed by over a dozen current and former first-class cricketers, several of whom have represented Pakistan, which asks for a reintroduction of the Kookaburra balls used by Pakistan in their “home” matches.

Alam argues that the thrust of using the new Grays balls is his brainchild. Others claim that the pressure from outside, particularly from active players, made it necessary for the PCB to actually do something about this issue. Either way, it took five years and perhaps dozens of affected careers for this to happen, without anyone really giving much of a toss about it.

And that really is the crux of the issue. The reason for the decline in quality in Pakistan cricket has far more to do with the apathy of the stakeholders than anything that the PCB has done.

More than three years ago, a story was posted at IBN Live, which quoted Basit Ali and several current players, complaining about the quality of the balls being used, and alleging that the contracts for these balls were offered during Ijaz Butt’s time to companies that were close to the then-chairman. Three years on, thus story lies on the ash heap of history, never followed up upon, ignored in popular imagination, while the descendants of Nero reign supreme.

Hassan Cheema is a sports journalist and commentator. He writes for Cricinfo, Wisden Asia, All Out Sports and other publications, and works with PTV Sports as a sports analyst, as well as on the online cricket show Pace is Pace Yaar. He tweets as @mediagag

Selling them short: PCB’s kit deals

Cricket is Pakistan’s most marketable commodity but the current apparel deals are based on barter

By Rehan-ul-Haq Sardar

As the Indian and Pakistani cricket teams lined up at the newly re-designed Adelaide Oval in front of over 40,000 fans in the second match of the ICC World Cup, the mismatch couldn’t have been greater. India were defending champions while Pakistan were rooted to the bottom of the rankings; India were carrying their full complement of players while Pakistan had just lost their premier bowler; India’s kit sponsorship was worth in excess of $60 million while Pakistan’s kit was worth nothing.

In the Adelaide sun, it was the commercial disparity between Indian and Pakistani cricket that stood out. While the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) successfully leveraged its brand, the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) severely undersold what is possibly the country’s easiest-to-sell product: Pakistan cricket.

Apparel deals represent one of the cornerstones of how modern sports organisations make their money. Along with broadcasting rights, gate receipts and sponsorships, these deals are crucial streams of revenue — funds that are typically reinvested into the national team, the domestic system and board operations.

The basic dynamics of an apparel deal are quite simple. The manufacturer provides the equipment worn by the team. In return, they get brand recognition and advertisement any time the team plays, as well as revenue each time fans of the team buy replica jerseys. In recent years, apparel deals have become so influential that it is often claimed in sports such as football that certain players are only bought to “sell t-shirts.” Consequently, most apparel deals with major sporting sides involve the kit manufacturer paying considerable sums to a sports team for the right to be their official apparel provider.

The apparel deal between the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) and Nike, the world’s preeminent sporting goods company, represents one such lucrative partnership.

Indian players at the World Cup donned jerseys that were constructed from recycled plastic bottles and were more technologically advanced than anything ever worn by the Indian team. To land the rights for producing the official Indian jersey, Nike not only paid over $60 million to the BCCI, it also launched an expensive advertisement campaign, complete with a grammatically incorrect hashtag.

At the World Cup, the Pakistani side was dressed by CA Sports, one of the pre-eminent sporting manufacturers in the cricketing world. The PCB had a long-standing apparel deal with CA; the last contract inked between the board and CA ran from 2014-2016, and was valued at around Rs35 million (with Rs 2.5 million in performance bonuses).

As per the terms of the deal, CA was to provide apparel and formal clothing items free of cost to both the men’s and the women’s national teams, the A teams, and the under-19 teams, and paying an additional sponsorship fee for this. Payments were to be made in instalments: Rs20 million in the first six instalments, followed by Rs7.5 million in the next six, and Rs7.5 million in sponsorship.

This relationship extended to the domestic sphere too: clothing and equipment used in domestic, regional, academy and practice matches were also provided by CA. But these were purchased by the PCB from them, at a cost of about Rs10 million per year.

Soon after the 2015 World Cup, CA unexpectedly terminated its deal with the PCB. As per financial transaction details between the two, CA had paid the PCB a little over Rs9 million (minus formal clothing) while it had earned roughly the same amount from sales. In effect, the PCB was handing over its apparel revenue stream for no money.

At the time this piece went to press, both the PCB and CA had not provided comments on the sudden breakdown of their relationship despite repeated requests. Industry insiders suggest however that the conflict was over the PCB failing to protect CA’s copyrights in terms of allowing replica (unlicensed) apparel to proliferate.

For its part, the PCB had to quickly find an alternative manufacturer before the 2015 tour to Bangladesh, and it found one in a local company named Hunt. PCB officials had told journalists at the time that due to the hurried nature of their situation, this deal too had to be rushed through.

But the air in Sialkot — one of the global capitals of sports manufacturing — carries a different version of events.

Several sportswear manufacturers in Iqbal’s hometown, in separate meetings, complained off the record about not being able to win a contract with the PCB. The only one willing to speak on the record was Umer Malik, the owner and CEO of internationally recognised sporting goods brand, Malik Sports.

“Until about five years ago or so, the PCB’s (commercial deals) process would be to take all potential sponsors on-board and release tenders before having a bidding process. However, no tenders have been announced of late, and both the CA and Hunt deals took place without any tenders being issued,” claims Malik.

“In fact, the CA deal was based more on mutual understanding than a proper commercial process. As for the Hunt deal, I know the board claims that they didn’t have much time, but it’s a fact that my company, as well as several others, are more than capable of providing the quick production turnaround the board needed back then.

“But instead, no other manufacturer or sponsor was approached when the Hunt deal was taking place. What’s even more surprising is that Hunt isn’t even strictly involved in manufacturing; they are primarily retailers. It is my opinion that Hunt only got this deal because of their personal relationship with people working inside the PCB,” he asserts.

Regardless of why the deal went through, it was officially a barter deal. Unlike the CA deal which effectively became a barter deal, sources within the PCB confirmed that no exchange of money took place over the deal with Hunt. The right to be included on some of Pakistani cricket’s most valuable ‘real-estate’ — the national team jersey — was one that Hunt got for nothing more than the cost of production. In other words, what Hunt extracted from the PCB is unprecedented marketing and brand awareness in return for giving out free uniforms to the best athletes in Pakistan.

And that isn’t the extent of the problems with Hunt-made equipment and apparel.

Umer Malik was amongst several people in Sialkot to claim that the equipment being provided by Hunt was not up to international standards. Given that Sialkot serves so much of the world’s sporting equipment needs, it seemed surprising that the most important national jersey would be of “inferior” quality.

But these notions were given credence by a current member of the national cricket team. Speaking on condition of anonymity, he confirmed that the Hunt jerseys they wore in Bangladesh lack anti-sweat technology — colloquially referred to as ‘dry-fit’ equipment, which is the name of Nike’s brand of such equipment — that has become standard in modern sports gear.

To get some perspective on this, even the unpaid, under-resourced and under-valued members of the Pakistan hockey team wear ‘dry-fit’ shirts for their official kits.

The hockey team, which currently has a barter deal as well, also shows up the PCB’s short-sightedness in paying for equipment for their domestic needs. Thanks to increasing coverage on electronic and social media, most Pakistani domestic cricket sides get far more coverage than the national hockey team ever does. It seems preposterous that the PCB would be conducting deals in 2015 that are operating on the basic barter system.

Indeed, the PCB’s commercial arrangements across several other areas are the subject of considerable intrigue within their respective sectors. However, despite numerous requests and several off-the-record interviews, most organisations which Dawn spoke to declined to even have their names mentioned in this piece. What all of them held in common was the allegation that the PCB had made several commercial deals which seemed to be undervaluing their product.

Which finally leads to the biggest question of this affair – are these undervalued deals the result of mere incompetence, or malice? Is the PCB merely failing to see the remarkable opportunities that it has, or is it because there is more to it than meets the eye? For both the apparel deal as well as the other issues, the PCB was not able to provide comments on the various details.

And it doesn’t look like the problems are ending any time soon.

One of the reasons India has been ruling the cricketing world is the sheer economic might of its tours, something that the PCB has not been able to earn off for a long while. Things seemed to be slowly changing this year, with the PCB chairman Shahryar Khan leading efforts to secure an Indian tour to the UAE.

But yet another PCB commercial deal now seems to have jeopardized what is the biggest moneymaking opportunity in modern cricket. The (also) hastily signed television deal for the next five years with Ten Sports has put the board in a direct clash with the BCCI, which has severed relations with the channel. A month after the deal, the Indian board made clear that to the PCB chairman that it had troubles with the broadcaster, and would consider cancelling the series altogether. In reply, the PCB said it would ask for the issue to be taken up by the ICC. As things unfold, it would be interesting to see if the PCB would give up the biggest pay cheque in cricket over its TV deal.

The greater tragedy is that the only financial scandals related to the PCB that capture the public attention are the sort where it is revealed that various ex-cricketers are being paid a lot of money for doing nothing at all. However, in the grander scheme of things, such exorbitant salaries are often just mere drops in the ocean. The amounts in lost earnings due to poorly valued deals are far greater in value, and cause exponentially greater harm.

In a world where teams are increasingly judged on their financial strength as much as their on-field prowess, the PCB is putting up far worse numbers than its cricket team. Should this trend continue, there will soon be a time when the cricket team would be able to do nothing about it.

Rehan-ul-Haq is a freelance sports writer, journalist and commentator. He works as a sports analyst with PTV Sports. He tweets as @Rehan_ulhaq

Published in Dawn, Sunday Magazine August 2nd, 2015