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Fighting the final battle

It goes without saying that there is no other cash bonanza for PCB than the Indian team playing Pakistan at home or in the UAE. But why go to the extent of making an announcement that it affects to the tune of 50 percent? Why make the Indians jump with joy that they are well and truly squeezing a Pakistani organisation?

Fighting the final battle
Shaharyar Khan

The confrontation between PCB with BCCI started with loose cannon fire a year back. It took the shape of trench warfare, turned to sniper firing and has come eyeball to eyeball. The government has jumped in perhaps with the view that PCB may call off the tour when Islamabad and New Delhi could be silently doing track-2 diplomacy and opening up a peace initiative through cricket.

Or they were afraid that Shaharyar Khan may just say yes to play in India in exchange for revenue sharing and then it would look very stupid to back out once Islamabad woke up.

But what I really don’t understand is why we have to admit in front of the whole world that we will suffer severe financial consequences. It goes without saying that there is no other cash bonanza for PCB in the current situation than the Indian team playing Pakistan at home or in the UAE. But why go to the extent of making an announcement that it affects to the tune of 50%? Why make the Indians jump with joy that they are well and truly squeezing a Pakistani organisation?

The consequences spelt out are also very amusing. The PCB Chairman says that they will have to downsize. Well why do they have to wait for things to go wrong to the extent that they have with the Indian series to do that. Most other boards work with a fraction of the staff. And those that don’t make money don’t pay such high salaries or perks. Cutting down on costs could have started years ago, in fact before Shahryar Khan expanded the staff of PCB in 2004 after he had LUMS do a human resource study, which in fact was briefed to cut staff.

Even if the organisational strategy was well meant any management audit would prove that it hasn’t delivered. I mean if the domestic structure has had to be redone every year, then obviously the people in the cricket committee are not the right people.

So why weren’t they fired and why do we have to have permanently employed managers? In all of Pakistan’s history, managers would be selected just prior to the tour and let go the day after the team landed.

I think there’s also a lot of unfounded noise about the financial situation. When Zaka Ashraf left he claimed there were Rs5 billion in PCB’s accounts. Even if we reduce that by half to overcome an exaggeration by Zaka Ashraf to put the current management under pressure, that still comes to Rs2.5 billion. That’s a lot of money and the interest generated from that investment can pay for tens of salaries till India starts playing Pakistan again.

The issue is that rather than downsizing, everyone from the top should reduce their salaries and perks by half. Thereby the hammer will not fall on the janitors and the peons and the drivers and the out-of-favour-but-still-useful-executives.

Having said all that I must give full credit to Shaharyar Khan for leading the way in appointing Misbah-ul-Haq and Younis Khan into the cricket committee. The two will bring with them understanding of the modern game first hand. It has to be seen of course how their views are viewed and whether their opinions are heard. So far it has led to a convoluted domestic structure every year.

What also has to be seen is how Younis Khan plays on the boardroom pitch. There it’s a whole new ball game and proper discussion strategies have to be formulated including lots of compromises, something Younis is not known for. Misbah may acquiesce to directions he does not totally agree with or endorse but Younis is unlikely to give way if he feels something is gravely wrong, especially when it comes to matters that affect cricketers adversely.

Also to be seen is their availability for meetings. With no Test series planned till the summer in case India doesn’t play us in the UAE, chances are that both might just go out and play in foreign leagues, as Misbah has already indicated by signing up for the Bangladesh competition. Younis may not be much sought after when it comes to Twenty20 cricket but when there is a paucity of cricketers available for a league considering the quantity of international cricket being played today, one or two teams in West Indies or Bangladesh just might pick him up. He could even do a short term coaching course with a foreign domestic side.

Talking of Twenty20 cricket Pakistan stands poised to take on England starting this week. Chances are we just might see the return of Ahmed Shahzad now that Afridi leads the side. He’s not going to listen too much to coach Waqar and has always drafted in Shahzad even when he hasn’t played in the other formats. It’s going to be interesting to watch because clearly Waqar has given Shahzad a freezing shoulder ever since England played Pakistan in the first Test. To the extent that he experimented with Bilal Asif and Babar Azam, neither of them specialist openers, in the ODIs.

Mighty glad to see Rafatullah Mohmand into the side. He should have first played for Pakistan at least a year back considering he’s been scoring heavily and at furious pace in the T20 and one-day tournaments. He’s approaching 40 but is fit as a fiddle and with tons of enthusiasm. I honestly hope he is given an opportunity considering Afridi looks set to re-induct Shahzad, unless Intikhab sides with Waqar and outvotes him, in which case he will get a place as the only other opener is Hafeez. Even if Shahzad plays Pakistan can also position Hafeez one down and play Rafatullah as the other opener.

I also hope Imad Wasim recovers in time to play the games. He has been a fantastic find for Pakistan and his bowling has been a revelation considering he was considered a batsman who can also bowl.

Pakistan have been toned down in ODIs following their Test triumph and this is the opportunity to finish on a high as this is the platform in which they excel. They have played some outstanding games over the year in this shorter format and in Sri Lanka were truly electrifying. Let’s hope they don’t get short circuited now by a revived England team.

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