Maverick ex-pacer Shoaib Akhtar’s outbursts have many contradictions

Published January 16, 2021
Shoaib Akhtar continued with his outbursts against the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) this week when he said the sport has been on a decline since 2000 due to the administrators’ wrong policies. — Photo courtesy: Shoaib Akhtar's YouTube video/File
Shoaib Akhtar continued with his outbursts against the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) this week when he said the sport has been on a decline since 2000 due to the administrators’ wrong policies. — Photo courtesy: Shoaib Akhtar's YouTube video/File

ISLAMABAD: Shoaib Akhtar continued with his outbursts against the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) this week when he said the sport has been on a decline since 2000 due to the administrators’ wrong policies and average appointments. However, for the knowledgeable critics, his ongoing tirade remains full of contradictions.

In an interview on Thursday with a private TV channel, the maverick fast bowler said he didn’t even remember the names of any PCB Chairman from his playing days. This potentially included Lt Gen (retired) Tauqir Zia, the PCB chairman from 1999 to 2003, who is credited for setting up the state-of-the-art High Performance Centre as well as spreading a network of cricket grounds across the country.

Gen Tauqir Zia is credited for rescuing Shoaib Akhtar’s sinking international career in 1999 after he was suspended from bowling on the tour of Australia when he was found to boast an illegal bowling action.

Then, Tauqir Zia had used his influence and contacts with the ICC and with the support of the then ICC president Jaghmohan Dalmiya and chairman technical committee Sir Clyde Walcott, had not only succeeded in overturning the suspension but later drove changes to the regulations relating with the illegal bowling actions.

Following a disastrous 2003 World Cup, it was reported Tauqir Zia wanted to appoint Shoaib Akhtar as captain but then handed over the reigns to Inzamam-ul-Haq who captained the national side until 2007.

“The cricket has been in a decline since 2000. When I used to play cricket, I didn’t know the name of the PCB Chairmen. We (still) don’t even remember the names of those chairmen. These people come and depart, leaving a weak legacy with their average policies and appointments,” Shoaib said.

In a 14-year international career, Shoaib took 178 Test and 247 ODI wickets but his time was plagued with injuries, controversies and accusations of poor attitude that led to a series of run-ins with the PCB administration.

Slamming the present PCB management, Shoaib Akhtar said: “The PCB is an average board, which is run by ordinary people. What experience and qualification Ehsan Mani has and what stakes he has in Pakistan cricket? Why the PCB Patron has brought in an average person, does he know more than us?” Shoaib asked.

“Who is Wasim Khan (PCB chief executive)? Who are these people? Don’t we know Pakistan cricket, can’t we run this sport,” Shoaib Akhtar blasted, adding: “Why you will want these people who have no stakes in Pakistan cricket?”

Ehsan Mani has been Pakistan’s representative on the ICC since 1989 before becoming its president from 2003 to 2006. A former club cricketer and a chartered accountant by profession, Ehsan drove the ICC’s and PCB’s commercial and media rights programme that saw a flow of cash in cricket. He still heads the ICC’s most influential Financial and Commercial Affairs Committee. Wasim Khan, a Warwick business school graduate and a former first-class cricketer, was an ex-chief executive of the Leicestershire county who also chaired the ECB’s Men’s Domestic Playing Programme Group and also sat on the Equality & Human Rights Commission Sports Group and the Board of Sport England. He was awarded an MBE in 2013.

During the interview, Shoaib offered to work “voluntarily in the PCB to sort out the board by dismissing incompetent people” but later backtracked when he said “he didn’t want any job in the job”.

Surprisingly, in September 2020, Shoaib had revealed that the PCB had approached him for the chief selector’s role when he said: “I will not deny it. Yes, I have had some discussions with the board and I am interested in playing a major role in Pakistan cricket. But nothing is decided as yet”.

He later denied any offer was made by the PCB chairman Ehsan Mani during an “informal and causal” meeting in Islamabad.

“New chief selector Muhammad Wasim is a good man and I hope he introduces meritocracy, but he will have to decide whether he needs to defend PKR400,000 or PKR1.4million,” Shoaib remarked.

Shoaib reiterated the PCB had decided to sack Misbah-ul-Haq and have already entered into an agreement with Andy Flower, the former Zimbabwe batsman who took England team to the number-one rankings. Andy will coach Multan Sultans in the PSL 2021 for the second successive year.

The PCB, when contacted, said it respected Shoaib’s comments but advised he should appear in interviews better prepared and informed so that he can share more accurate and fact-based insight to the fans and followers of the game.

Published in Dawn, January 16th, 2021

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