CONTROVERSIES are not new to Pakistan cricket and the past 68 years have witnessed as much action off-field as on-field. The latest storm to hit the game is the abolishment of departmental cricket. The Pakistan Cricket Board, under its 2019 constitution, has revamped the domestic cricket structure which favours regional and provincial teams over departmental ones.
The deafening noise over the PCB’s abrupt decision prompted head coach Misbah-ul-Haq, Test skipper Azhar Ali and senior player Mohammad Hafeez to call on Prime Minster Imran Khan on Wednesday, to request him to review the decision which has rendered hundreds of cricketers jobless. However, the meeting proved fruitless, with Mr Khan telling his visitors to focus on their job and not interfere in policy matters. The meeting that took place without the PCB’s knowledge has left cricket’s top brass fuming.
In hindsight, the trio had approached Mr Khan with good intentions. However, it was a hasty move and one that violated the PCB’s disciplinary rules, earning them the authorities’ ire. Had they done their homework properly and consulted PCB chairman Ehsan Mani and CEO Wasim Khan prior to visiting Mr Khan, Misbah, Hafeez and Azhar would have had a good idea of what to expect.
It is no secret that the decision to abolish the departments was the brainchild of the prime minister himself. He has supported the regional format since his playing days. Being the patron of the board, Mr Khan has ensured its implementation through the PCB. It remains to be seen whether or not the new domestic set-up works for Pakistan cricket.
Nevertheless, a quick glance at sports in the country, including cricket, hockey, squash, athletics etc, is enough to show how pivotal departments have been in producing a majority of the country’s legendary stars such as Hanif Mohammad, Fazal Mahmood, Jahangir Khan, Jansher Khan, Wasim Akram, Waqar Younis, Aisam-ul-Haq and indeed Mr Khan himself. In a nutshell, abolishing a tried and trusted system may not prove to be such a wise step.
Published in Dawn, September 18th, 2020