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Cricket

The News,Wednesday, April 09, 2014


From Print Edition




Pakistans T20 performance has rightly come in for flak. Apart from the usual litany of dubious decisions
by the captain and errant batting and bowling by some key players, the inclusion of at least three
players in the squad was rightly questioned from the start. It now transpires that Captain Mohammad
Hafeez browbeat the selectors to have his way, despite PCB Chairman Najam Sethis objections. The
chairman did not impose his views and this is the way it should be. Similarly, having taken responsibility
for the selection, and failed to justify it, the captain and selectors have been nudged to step aside.
Shahid Afridi has offered himself as the next captain but the chairman has rapped him on the knuckles
for an unauthorised self-serving media talk.

Losing should be a reflective and sobering experience rather than a demoralising one. As Wasim Akram
has pointed out, the media too must imbibe this advice. Undue criticism for the sake of ratings exacts a
heavy toll on the morale and motivation. PCB Chairman Najam Sethi, in particular, has come in for some
unjust criticism. Under his stewardship, Pakistan has lost only one ODI series out of five. In the Asia Cup
Pakistan made it to the finals. And in the T20 WC Pakistan still ended up ranking above Australia,
England and New Zealand. Things may be looking up with the chairmans appointment of Rashid Latif as
chief selector. Sethi has also announced a revamp of domestic cricket and a more democratic
constitution. His intentions seem in the right direction. He is appointing retired cricketers of stature to
key posts and setting up training camps and talent hunts. And he is advertising for specialist foreign
coaches as well. This is as it should be in view of their critical role in the shaping of raw cricketers for
international contests.

The challenge ahead is how to reinstate Pakistan in the folds of the revamped ICC. The previous PCB
management miscalculated and ended up isolating Pakistan after being ditched first by Bangladesh and
then by South Africa. Now Sri Lanka has joined the bandwagon of the Big Three. Sethi must follow the
same route and extract whatever is maximally possible even at this late stage instead of holding out in
abstention. The PCB needs lots of money to revamp domestic cricket. That money can only come from
cooperating with the nine ICC members who have signed the revised covenant. Even under trying
circumstances the PCB has stitched up financially favourable bilateral tours with eight ICC members for
2014-20. All that remains is to convince India to play Pakistan on fair terms. If that is the value for
signing on the dotted line along with the other ICC members next June, so be it. The ICC meetings in
Dubai on April 9 are crucial. Sethi is advised to negotiate with the Big Three and return to Pakistan with
Indian tours in the bag.