The potential fallout of the possibility of the India series not happening seems to have fallen on Intikhab Alam and Zakir Khan. Shaharyar Khan, the PCB chairman, had mentioned some time back that he had a plan ‘B’ and that it included cost cutting to recover from the loss if the series was cancelled. Well it seems that despite giving the Indian board two months to confirm whether they will play cricket with us he has gone ahead with downsizing. I wonder if that statement had been made more to prepare everyone for this firing (or should I say realignment as it is revealed that both will still be associated with PCB in some way) than it was to prepare the public for a back up.
Zakir it is stated by one source will become manager of Pakistan ‘A’/Under-19 side while there is no news of what Intikhab will do. Apparently, Shaharyar says he still has use for Inti, though leaving it hanging in mid air could be a hint to the former captain that he might as well call it a day himself.
Intikhab has had a tough time. He was Director Domestic Cricket for about a year but he was under Shakeel Shaikh for all practical purposes as the latter headed the crucial Cricket Committee. In fact it had surprised me that a former international cricketer of Intikhab’s caliber, and for that matter also Iqbal Qasim, served under a non-cricketer like Shaikh. That in itself should have been the reason for both to resign though being a government employee it was difficult for at least Iqbal Qasim to do that.
But Inti could have and he had a good enough reason if he didn’t want to rock the boat as he has been unwell for quite some time. If he didn’t I would advise him that instead of roaming the corridors of Gaddafi Stadium aimlessly waiting for a call by the chairman to do some task once in a while, he should this time simply bid goodbye and spend more time spinning his yarn by writing his memoirs.
As for Zakir well he’s still younger by comparison and will now be PCB’s ambassador at large with the junior sides. Some free rides seem to be in store for him. Still not convinced that for someone who has been head of domestic cricket a couple of times and being unable to stay to one format, he should still be considered good enough to be retained. I can’t understand why it is so difficult in PCB to let go people.
Let’s hope that Zakir being a presentable man after all can do the job justice. But these days a manager is not just a good face; he has huge responsibilities when on tour as he has to keep an eye out for where the kids are going in the evenings and who they are meeting. Can Zakir be that perspicacious? That remains to be seen.
He can nevertheless also bring to his advantage coordinating with foreign boards when on tour as he should know most of them having been head of international cricket a couple of times as he has been shuffled back and forth from domestic to international divisions.
How the replacements of Intikhab and Zakir perform will also be under scrutiny though both Usman Wahla who has taken over from Zakir and Ali Zia who replaces Inti enjoy good reputations and are said to be professionally sound. They will be the general managers as the positions have been downgraded from directors but I find it inappropriate that they report to Subhan. He may be the COO but has had no experience of handling either the domestic or international portfolios. He has been mostly in marketing or media and before that in general management.
Whatever their reporting lines both need to be given a year or two to show their worth. I sincerely hope that a change in guard at the top would not cause a reshuffle again and favourites appointed in their place.
Favouritism nevertheless seems to have pervaded merit in awarding central contracts. I can’t comprehend how Shoaib Malik has made it to ‘A’ Category. He has just made a return to the Pakistan side after some two years and has performed against teams like Zimbabwe and a Sri Lankan bowling attack shorn of venom. His bowling has improved but he is still not a front line bowler.
The feeble excuse was given that current and former captains have been placed in Category ‘A’ automatically. The fact is that Younis Khan was already qualifying for Category ‘A’ as batsman irrespective of seniority and past status as Pakistani captain. So some rationale had to be found for Malik it appears.
Otherwise based on the recent performances Sarfraz Ahmed and Yasir Shah are way ahead of Malik. And Sarfraz remains vice captain in the limited-over formats. Both have been match-winners and both deserved to be in the top tier.
Still on the central contracts and it was quite hilarious to see Imad Wasim being included in the central contracts after a couple of day’s gap during which much fuss was made of his omission. The reason given was that it was a typo! That his name was erroneously omitted. Incredulous that though the list must have been signed off by a few people before it was released. And if it was a typo or oversight how come it took so long for it to be spotted?
Clearly there has been something said to the chairman and poor Haroon Rasheed had to make up an excuse that borders on absolute silliness. But at least some justice has been restored as Imad certainly deserved a place as he is clearly a long term potential.
I think PCB has also been kind to Saeed Ajmal for retaining him in Category ‘B’. Good to see PCB being loyal to a man who is going through a tough phase of his life. Though how long he stays after the list is reviewed next year is open to conjecture. His remodeled action has not brought fruitful results and it appears he is on his way out, especially with Yasir Shah on song.