Pakistan's pathetic performance against arch-rival India in the opening match of the ICC Champions Trophy on Sunday should prove to be an eye-opener for all concerned that nothing is going on the right track in Pakistan cricket.
The lamentable show at Edgbaston perfectly summed up the shambolic state of cricket affairs in the country for which every stakeholder - from chairman Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) to district cricket association heads, to the team management and the players – must be held responsible.
There are lobbies working in every department of Pakistan cricket. Some lobbies hold sway in the selection matters, some in the administration while some lobbies have the influence in the Board of Governors of the PCB, all involved in a tug of war of some kind or the other to keep an upper hand in calling the shots.
If a certain lobby is stronger than the other, no one is there to hold the people from that lobby accountable no matter how much damage or wrong doing they indulge in. And if people of certain lobby are weaker, they are blamed for everything until the time they have their chance to go one up.
Most decisions in the PCB are unfair and not taken on merit since ‘parchi’ system is still rampant. Those who have stronghold in the Board have the world to themselves as they have their way as the masters of their domains, maneuvering things with no fear of any kind of accountability and therefore mistakes after mistakes go unnoticed and unchallenged.
It is also the reason that tried and failed people have been making several comebacks in the PCB for the last many years despite the amount of damage they have caused to Pakistan cricket.
Coaches, managers, selectors, trainers, doctors and others come at the helm through these lobbies which have been working in and outside of the PCB. The influential people sitting in the past or current governments have also been getting their blue-eyed people appointed at key posts in the PCB and that is another cause of the rapid decline of Pakistan cricket.
Right selection and top-level fitness of players are two main areas of the game which are vital in building a strong team. But in both the areas the policy of compromise is prevalent where certain players are never out of reckoning, no matter how dismal their record has been.
It has happened on many occasions that despite proven lack of fitness or poor performance, certain players are given frequent chances tour after tour, series after series.
Indeed, the lobby system plays an effective role in this. Influential quarters conveniently bypass the selection and fitness criteria and get their favourites in the team. And all such players coming through the back doors then need to do is to simply please the high-ups sitting in those lobbies and sit pretty, not getting bothered about fitness tests or performance or working hard.
The amount of funds used by the PCB on the international as well as domestic cricket are not less than what any other country spends.
According to the figure obtained from the PCB accounts in 2016, Rs2.50 billion (Rs2,506,976,274) were spent on tours of different Pakistan teams and on domestic tournaments. In the same year, the administrative expenses were a staggering Rs3.30 billion (3,299,320,243).
Had the PCB been using these massive amounts of funds in the correct way, the current decline in Pakistan cricket would never have been witnessed.
But then the spendings in the PCB are never on merit but only to protect and benefit the vested interests as well as the high-ups. It is clear now that the intentions of the high-ups are not to see Pakistan cricket rising and shining, but to save their own skin and their seats.
If the same rotten system continues any further, which is most likely to, Pakistan cricket will soon be reaching a dead end like other sports in the country including national game of hockey and squash and snooker and athletics.
History tells us that Pakistan was a dominant force in the world for decades but it was mainly due to sincere, competent people at the helm which is no more the case.
There is hardly any reason for the critics to believe that the Prime Minister of Pakistan, who is also the patron of the PCB, is strong enough or has the vision or the courage to launch a major surgery in the PCB or conduct an overhaul since the roots and connections of the established lobbies in the cricket board run very deep and will unfortunately continue to prevail.
Published in Dawn, June 7th, 2017