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To learn or not to learn

For Pakistan Cricket Board learning from mistakes isn’t an option; where tried and tested individuals stay in office for life and where making silly mistakes is a norm

To learn or not to learn
Anurag Thakur (L), Shaharyar Khan (R)

There are two kinds of cricket boards in the world — one that is willing to learn and one that isn’t. Sadly, Pakistan’s Cricket Board falls into the second category where learning from mistakes isn’t an option; where tried and tested individuals stay in office for life and where making silly mistakes is a norm, not a one-time thingy. In comparison, the Indian cricket board — BCCI — is doing everything right and one wouldn’t be surprised if their team manages to become the best in all three formats, soon!

Young chairman, fresh ideas!

At 41 years old, Anurag Thakur is the second youngest BCCI chief (after Fateh Singh Gaekwad). He may not be a Test cricketer but even then he was elected for the highest post in the board that too unopposed. With a young mind at helm, BCCI is likely to prosper under his reign because he has no strings attached and doesn’t have to make veteran cricketers happy.

On the other hand, Pakistan Cricket Board has been running on old fuel for as long as we know it (Mujeeb ur Rehman in 1999 was one exception, but he wasn’t elected!). Be it Dr Nasim Ashraf, Ijaz Butt, Zaka Ashraf, Najam Sethi or the current chairman Shaharyar Khan, all of them were young when none of the cricketers in the team were even born. Their knowledge of the game is also limited and that’s why Pakistan cricket team doesn’t have a good ranking in limited overs internationals. Nasim Ashraf was at the helm since he was close to the then president of the country; Ijaz Butt was a former Test cricketer but his tenure was the worst since he was an old man at an odd position; Zaka Ashraf and Najam Sethi’s appointment were also politically motivated whereas Shaharyar Khan returns as a compromise chairman rather than a powerful one.

Anil Kumble — A masterstroke

Both India and Pakistan have appointed new coaches for their national cricket teams — Pakistan went for Mickey Arthur (former coach of South Africa and Australia) after a local coach (Waqar Younis) whereas India went for Anil Kumble, their most successful bowler in Test Cricket. For those who have followed Kumble’s career, they know that he is a brave cricketer who doesn’t shy from making difficult decisions; he even went to bowl against the West Indies in a Test match at Antigua despite being badly injured. He last played for India nearly eight years back and knows the game better than most of his contemporaries since a) he was appointed as a member of the ICC Cricket Committee after retirement and b) he was also associated with IPL first as a player and later as a mentor.

On the other hand, when you have old people in positions meant for the young, you will either trust old men (their contemporaries) or those who have been around in the organization for some time. That’s one of the reasons why the likes of Zakir Khan (over 50), Haroon Rasheed (over 60) and Intikhab Alam (over 70) would label PCB as their home rather than their own house. When you don’t induct new blood, you are bound to make tried-and-tested decisions without thinking about their consequences. Haroon Rasheed is a better manager than selector yet he was used as the latter; Inzamam-ul-Haq had a good stint as coach of Afghanistan Cricket team yet he was appointed as chief selector across the border; Intikhab Alam was born when India and Pakistan were one (in 1941) and at a time when his colleagues are living a retired life, he is still serving Pakistan Cricket to the best of his abilities which sadly aren’t good enough.

Making bold moves

While India has been sending an inexperienced team to countries like Zimbabwe, Pakistan hasn’t tried that in ages; that’s one of the reasons why people like Asim Kamal, Fawad Alam and others weren’t able to cement their place in the final XI despite being talented. Even Misbah-ul-Haq had to wait for the retirement of Inzamam to stage a comeback in the side; such is the way Pakistan cricket is being run.

Had those at helm been in India, Sourav Ganguly might not have played Test cricket for India (he was part of the 1992 World Cup squad which India lost), Sachin Tendulkar would have been dropped after his first Test where he was bowled out cheaply, KL Rahul would never have made his ODI debut in which he scored a century and Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s elevation to captain would have been stopped by a player revolt. Pakistan Cricket Board must let young blood in so that sound and logical decisions can be made and executed; otherwise the very cricketers who are representing the country now will be at the helm in 25 years, and we would still be discussing where it all went wrong; why we couldn’t learn from our mistakes, and from the decisions our neighbours made.

Omair Alavi

omair alavi
The author is a freelance journalist. He may be contacted at [email protected]

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