PCB’s strange decision

Published December 3, 2023

THE Pakistan Cricket Board’s decision-making and the way it is being run has become a joke. A day after appointing the tainted Salman Butt as one of three consultants to chief selector Wahab Riaz, the PCB removed him, raising further questions behind the board’s thinking processes. The backlash faced by the Zaka Ashraf-led board was fierce. PCB’s former chairman Ramiz Raja called the appointment of the convicted spot fixer ‘insane’, while legendary pacer Sarfraz Nawaz said he was ‘shocked’. There were reports of external pressure to remove him too, notably a directive from the prime minister who is PCB’s patron in chief. Mr Butt deserved to be banished altogether from cricket, even if he underwent rehabilitation and served jail time. For his act, there should be no way back into the game, even if he can lead a normal life in society. Yet, PCB, continuing its recent trend of illogical decisions, opted on Friday to appoint Salman Butt, Kamran Akmal and Rao Iftikhar Anjum to assist Mr Riaz. It perhaps forgot that Mr Butt’s actions were no less than a betrayal of millions of Pakistanis who follow cricket avidly.

Salman Butt was the captain of the Pakistan cricket team — a side that has been led by some model figures including the great Imran Khan, Younis Khan and Misbah-ul-Haq — when he masterminded the infamous spot-fixing scandal in 2010. It was he who convinced fast bowlers Mohammad Amir and Mohammad Asif to bowl no-balls at predetermined times in the Lord’s Test against England. As captain of the team, and the most educated of the trio, the blame rests chiefly with him. He was banned for 10 years by the International Cricket Council and served a prison sentence in the UK. On Saturday, 24 hours after Mr Butt was appointed, he was removed, with Mr Riaz saying there had been a lot of “undue criticism from media houses”. He said it was his decision to rope in Mr Butt, who he said, had completed his punishment. He called on people to ‘move on’. Perhaps the chief selector did not understand that it is not easy to do so, especially with the appointment of a man whose actions brought shame to Pakistan cricket and hurt the sentiments of many ardent fans. For that act, there can be no way back.

Published in Dawn, December 3rd, 2023

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