Just how petty a national level organisation can get in its dealings, especially when it is dealing with a gentleman’s game like cricket. But then, there’s little that is not beyond the Pakistan Cricket Board, really.
The glitzy Pakistan Super League (PSL) bash on Sunday, perhaps, had it all except for better sense, and Younis Khan.
The unabashed manner in which the PCB snubbed the senior pro and former captain from it all on Sunday was unforgivably cringeworthy. It was no silly error but a deliberate move, instigated to belittle the master batsman. The reaction in media and the public, however, was an indulgence in support of the great player, alas not matched in action by the Board.
To make matters worse for the conspiring PCB officials, the affable Mardan-born batsman emerged unscathed, and a winner yet again. When asked to comment on PCB’s ungainly move, Younis said: “It doesn’t matter if I am there or not, it is great to see Pakistan cricket thriving and launching the PSL in a grand manner. I wish PCB the very best in its endeavours.” Talk about magnanimity.
For the followers of the game and the critics, the PCB bared its teeth yet again by leaving out Younis — the 2009 World Twenty20 winner — and Imran Khan, and Javed Miandad, and Moin Khan and a few other — by design and through malintent.
While the dastardly act carried the PCB stamp all over it, one still does not know what to make of it, really. If that was the cricket board’s way of getting back at Younis for his candid remarks over team selection, it would seem a travesty of logic that they could have such a large bearing on the board’s approach of treating a legendary player who has served the game with his life and blood. It was, indeed, unbecoming of a cricket board that has constantly accused neighbours India of mixing politics with sports.
The player-snub rankled even more since it came within a week of PCB Chairman Shaharyar Khan’s statement last Saturday that he would have loved to hire both Younis and Misbah-ul-Haq as his advisers had they were not actively playing the game.
The hard truth is that the PCB itself has been going through a serious credibility crisis for decades on end. Rather than setting benchmarks, it has stooped low to ruin traditions and repudiate the performers — actions that cannot be condoned by any stretch of imagination.
Moreover, Sunday’s official launch curiously enough did not mention the venue for the inaugural edition, although a day earlier it was there in the media that the much-trumpeted league has been be relocated from Doha to the United Arab Emirates.
It seems that the PSL organisers were in a hurry to arrange the high-profile event at Lahore’s Expo centre. Normally when such a launching is held, the competing franchises are unveiled. No such thing on Sunday which is a clear indication the powers-that-be were hell-bent to make a start somewhere without taking into account the key factors.
It was the second time that a PSL logo was unveiled by the PCB which was markedly different from the one launched earlier during the Zaka Ashraf tenure. There was no official word who will be the broadcasters and what is the player draft either. Remarkably, the organisers’ over-eagerness to get going with this pompous ceremony was disorganised to the extent that there was hardly any news about the big show in most of the print media on Monday.
While Kevin Pietersen, the enfant terrible of English cricket, Shakib Al Hasan and Dwayne Bravo were announced at the launching as the ‘headline’ stars of the Pakistan Super League, there was not a single word about T20 cricket’s most devastating player Chris Gayle, who has supposedly given his consent to the PSL hierarchy.
In modern sport, the edifice has to be built up with diligence, strong vision, integrity, big-heartedness, cultural savviness etc or else it will remain vulnerable to problems and conspiracies such as the ones dogging the PCB today. If the parent body or the governing authority of a game or a sport is out to take revenge on its own heroes and the protagonists, doomsday is already on us.
Published in Dawn, September 22nd , 2015