The price of politics in cricket

Published: August 29, 2010
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The Pakistan team celebrates after winning the World Twenty20 in London in 2009

Last evening, I was watching the highlights of the World Twenty20 final of 2009 which Pakistan miraculously won against all odds.

Still mesmerized by these magical nostalgic feelings, I changed the channel and found the pundits of cricket scrutinizing the current report by PCB highlighting “The new great game” being played in the dressing room by the players. Traditionally this was nothing new in the game of cricket.

We have witnessed it in many forms in the 90’s as well, among the great Wasim Akram, Waqar Younis, Amir Sohail and others. This time it has mutated into its most deadly form as the number of players involved has increased. The one good thing that still remains is the privilege of captaincy and the fact that it is not hereditary.

In a debate among youth activists of Pakistan, Husham Ahmed said,” We don’t have a democratic culture. Politics is meant for politicians and not military dictators.” I found it quite ironic that leaving the military aside, our cricket players have perfected this art.

The guru of cricket conspiracy theories Mr Sarfaraz Nawaz was ready as always to pounce at the opportunity. He took the role of fortune teller by saying that he had already predicted such catastrophic events. While others were considering the recent series loss in Australia and the accusations of match fixing and player politics as the lowest ebb of Pakistan cricket, I considered it as a blessing in disguise.

There is no denying that the harsh steps taken by the PCB at the brink of World Twenty20 greatly upset the country. We all knew about the continuous tug of war among the senior players in the team to become captain. They wanted captaincy not based on performance or leadership abilities but by the number of years of international cricket that they had in their bags. And so it seems the days when players played with passion for their country are long gone. Now, a player prefers to sit outside just because his brother is not good enough to be selected.

Why is everyone so interested in captaincy rather than playing cricket for the love of the game and prestige of the country?

Players live lavishly because our government spends a hefty amount of tax payers’ money on them. They are not national heroes due to any extraordinary intelligence or looks but because we consider them our heroes. This does not give them a green signal to do whatever they like.

I would love to have a weak but sincere team who considers it a privilege to play for Pakistan rather than a group of celebrities who want to steal the lime light. The PCB is equally to blame. The dubious appointment of Yawar Saeed, along with the consistent meetings of the chairman with the players and the late announcement of the captain, are some of the spectacular blunders of our cricket board.

The PCB needs to show its effectiveness as an institution. Strict rules and regulations should be implemented regarding discipline of players both on and off the field. Severe punishments should be given to all those who are found guilty of politics. This is the time for action and not talk.

Qazi.Saleem

Qazi Saleem Ahmed Khan

A knowledge management executive and programme coordinator for Taaleem Foundation. He is an activist who is interested in sociological problems, international relations and world constitutions. He tweets @qazisaleem

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