"Once is happenstance, twice is coincidence, three times is enemy action."
The great Ian Fleming did not even bother to mention what four times is because by that point only a fool would need further commentary.
In the context of Pakistan Super League, one theme that has recurred time and time again without fail is Lahore Qalandars finishing last. So where on previous occasions experts and analysts and pundits have tried pinning Lahore's awful awfulness on bad luck, poor combinations, form issues and other such drivel, truth is that they have just not been good enough.
It's not even about their current roster or any past roster. The problem lies with the way they compose their playing squad, which means that there is every chance their future lots could also possibly be just as rubbish, if not more.
A quick glance at all the Qalandars' past and present squads shows that they tend to blow their top pick and a bulk of their cap space on foreign superstars who are either way past their primes or whose weary legs just have too much mileage to last an entire tournament.
Chris Gayle and Brendon McCullum were their prototypical foreign saviours who couldn't perform, whereas AB de Villiers could perform but was too fragile — at least that's what we're told.
Last off season, they used their other pick to draft Mohammad Hafeez, which at that time looked a reasonable choice before his thumb injury proved us wrong. As they say winners make their own luck — so perhaps losers ruin their own?
What's quite clearly missing from the equation are national stars that are in the primes of their respective careers, with the exception of perhaps Fakhar Zaman.
Trade opportunities are supposed to remedy draft shortcomings but the Qalandars came up short even there. They traded away Umar Akmal and Sunil Narine for Rahat Ali and Hassan Khan.
Granted that Akmal was in a rut and needed to be dealt, but him and Narine were clearly more valuable assets than the duo they got in return. Not to mention that neither of their acquisitions addressed their batting woes, which have been their main problem since times immemorial.
Clearly whoever is calling the shots at the Qalandars has to shoulder the blame, and by the looks of it, the mastermind of this mess is Aqib Javed. Shouldn't the buck stop with him?
In all commercial leagues the first casualty of failure is the coach. The Qalandars have opted for the less-taken alternative route, overhauling nearly their entire squad (only four players that featured in their last PSL 2018 outing played their first PSL 2019 match).
Ditching one set of players for another equally flawed loss hasn't worked. How long before the franchise ownership realises that the fault line lies elsewhere? Wouldn't it be an easier and effective fix to remedy the mechanism that keeps making mistakes than just fixing mistakes?
Judging from his on-screen persona, Fawad Rana looks like the nicest of owners in all of PSL. But there comes a time where every owner has no choice but to wield the axe to stop the rot. That time is now.
In the end, a moment of silence for all those who thought Lahore Qalandars would go all the way.
The writer is a cricket enthusiast from Karachi.