LAHORE: Former Test batsman Mohammad Yousuf reckons there is a need to anaylse if high-ranking Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) officials are also responsible for the decline of the game, instead of pressing ahead with the practice of sacking coaches, captains and managers after every debacle.
Yousuf was invited by the PCB fact-finding committee — formed to ascertain the reasons behind national team’s back-to-back failures in the Asia Cup T20 and the World T20 —alongside former paceman Jalaluddin on Wednesday.
The committee has finished its proceedings and will now finalise its recommendations.
Captain Shahid Afridi gave his views through a video link as he wasn’t able to come to Lahore due to family problems.
“I told the committee that we lost the 1999 World Cup final, fared badly in the 2003, 2007 World Cups; and on every occasion committees were formed just to sack managers, captains and coaches,” Yousuf said while talking to media after appearing before the committee.
“We never considered where the real problems in our system lie. We will have to work with honesty to spot and solve these problems, which have ruined our cricket,” added Yousuf, a veteran of 90 Tests and 288 ODIs.
Stating officials in the PCB, like other stakeholders in the game, must also be held accountable, he said: “We have always been highlighting the issues like differences between captains and coaches leading to their sacking after every debacle. But we are not bothering to see the roles of the PCB officials who are playing musical chairs game in the Board.
“New faces, including prominent former cricketers, should come in the PCB to help rectify the system.”
Yousuf, 41, minced no words in underlining the flaws of Pakistan cricket.
“I conveyed some suggestions to the committee pointing out the shortcomings in our domestic structure, which has failed to produce players of international standard,” he said.
“Our stadiums are lacking international standard, our players are not getting competitive cricket at domestic level.”
There were some simple suggestions too.
“In order to improve our game we should focus on quality rather than quantity of cricket; we need to pay handsome fees to cricketers at domestic level, matches should be televised and more sponsors should be brought in to inject money into cricket,” Yousuf maintained.
“A big think-tank comprising seasoned cricketers should be set up to take all cricket-related decisions,” he advised.
“It is a pity that our star players like Saqlain Mushtaq and Inzamam-ul-Haq are not giving any service to Pakistan cricket: Saqlain is giving expert comments on a sports channel while Inzamam is coaching Afghanistan team,” he regretted.
He said while England, Australia, South Africa and even India had strong domestic structures, very little work was done in Pakistan to improve its cricket. “Establishing regional academies in this regard will be crucial.”
Comparing the post-2007 World Cup scenario in Pakistan with that of India, Yousuf said: “We fared very poorly in that World Cup [first-round exit]. I was also the part of that team.
“India also crashed out in the opening round of that event. But they taking a timely lesson from the debacle took a correct decision to help India come out of the crisis, appointed the right man [M.S. Dhoni] as captain.
“On the other hand, we learnt nothing from that disaster, and as a result our cricket continued to suffer after the 2007 World Cup nightmare,” he pointed out.
Asked if the fact-finding committee had the capacity to find the root causes of the debacles, Yousuf said he had already said that in the past there had been no use of such committees.
But as now the PCB chairman had assured that the findings would be announced in a couple of days, Yousuf said, he decided to appear before the committee.
Reacting to the open apologies tendered by Waqar Younis and Afridi to the nation for the Asia Cup and World T20 failures, Yousuf said same sort of apologies were given in the past but nothing was done to positively change the system.
Meanwhile, local media continued to cover the proceedings of the fact finding committee from outside the Gaddafi Stadium in a protest against a decision of the PCB of restricting the entry of journalists to just the media room.
The situation was also brought to the notice of Shaharyar Khan and according to a press release issued by the Sports Journalists Association of Lahore, the chairman said that he had not issued any such order and those were instead issued by Najam Sethi.
Earlier, there was also a protest by cricket fans against the faltering PCB officials.
Published in Dawn, March 31th, 2016