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Save our seats

It’s the parody it seems of the Battle for North Africa between Rommel and Montgomery

Save our seats

Considering we must surely have annihilated the Guinness world record for any one city setting the most Guinness world records, why shouldn’t the city of Lahore expand its reach into other areas requiring updating in the annals?

The PCB being in the Mughlia Lahore will fit right in. Or should I say Kipling’s Lahore as this has more to do with the language reformation than breaking the record for the biggest collection of Kaneezes in the centuries past.

The Oxford Dictionary board may therefore be submitted from Gaddafi Stadium that SOS actually stands for ‘Save Our Seats’. You know, like when you and your friend get pulled up from your stadium seat by the ticket collector because someone else has what he believes is the original ticket.

And you tell the guy you smuggled in with you: “We’ll be back. SOS.”

From what we have seen over nine months of carrying what has become a still born baby, and threatens both mother and child because it was not aborted when it began to die, this is what each chairman, chief selector, coach, the cook and the groundsman and the janitor has been saying: SOS.

Unfortunately the seat gets taken and of course retaken when the other chairman or the janitor is pulled out by the now totally confused ticket collector who keeps getting convinced by his catch that in fact the other guy has duped him.

It’s the parody it seems of the Battle for North Africa between Rommel and Montgomery, where territory changed hands alternatively some 5-6 times. A parody indeed because it’s like Laurel and Hardy playing the roles that the two Field Marshalls of Germany and Great Britain played in that epic conflict. Or closer to this generation, Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker as acting alternates to Robert De Niro and Al Pacino in Heat. So what exactly is the status as of today? Good question. Might as well predict when the load shedding will end in Lahore. Sometimes I think this is more of a WWF contest between Undertaker Sethi and Shawn Ashraf and their sidekicks. This is one issue where I believe even time cannot tell.

One of those returning to grab his seat seems to be Mohammad Ilyas, unless he’s paid off for the year and his contract terminated. But if Ilyas wants to really dig in for the long haul at the behest of maybe Zaka Ashraf, he can go to the courts again and say that he cannot be fired even if he is paid ‘cancellation charges’ because there has to be a reason for termination. Since he never took any decisions before he was sacked, what other reason can there be other than personal dislike which can be termed as discriminatory. Also, he may well question the authority of the IMC to carry out that order since establishment of IMC has been by the PM and not the court which for all practical purposes has been overseeing the leadership crisis at the Gaddafi Stadium.

Thereafter the case against the reinstatement of Najam Sethi is still alive pending a decision on the 19th of this month. Can Ilyas take a stay order if he is fired after being reinstated? That will mean he can walk into the camp in progress at the Gaddafi Stadium and take charge; maybe add or delete a few players.

Imagine the new selectors wondering who to report to, if at all they are considered valid after the court order reinstating Ilyas. Knowing the character he will not walk away from a confrontation; but then nor will Moin. So will we be seeing cops coming into the playing field to reinforce the court order? This is getting so ridiculous that it’s not even funny anymore.

Neither has been the episode where the domestic cricket was being overhauled for the 66th time at the minimum, since there have been some years when it has undergone adjustment during the season itself. So Haroon Rashid has been sacrificed at the altar after it was leaked he had submitted a proposal to take the departments out by name and bring them in as team sponsors with team selection and management given to the regions.

Look, first of all this proposal was like reinventing the wheel for maybe the twentieth time. Haroon is a man with good intentions but all he must have done was to take out the previous proposals out of the drawers in the archives room, dusted them off, changed dates and a few names and maybe put in a unique phrase or two. But the crux will have been what has been mentioned over the last three decades, initially by Imran Khan when he was still playing as an ordinary cricketer (not captain) and thereafter by a few idealists.

The irony is that that in fact is the way all teams are run all over the world. It’s a no-brainer. The problem in Pakistan is that the men in charge of domestic cricket, whether nationally, regionally or city-wise have been so incompetent, selfish and insincere that the base for independent management of clubs and teams has not just stagnated but dropped into a chasm.  Anywhere else in the world and they would have been fired years ago with maybe compensation sought from them for gross negligence if not outright mismanagement.

To now expect a professional, intelligent, sincere and capable CEO and Marketing Head of a multi-billion rupee corporation to nod his head at paying out millions to regions to fill their bellies was a cock-a-hoop in the first place. What was Haroon trying to do which he hadn’t suggested before and which had been shot down previously by his very own people after stinkers received from the departments?

I mean, it’s like the kitchen staff of the most elite country club standing up to the managing committee saying they will on their own determine what will be cooked and served and what price it will be bought and from whom and where and when. And all the time being aware that they can’t tell an omelet from a fried egg and that the MC is only tolerating them because the rules of the club require kitchen staff to be retained; that they actually order out whenever they have to eat and pay directly.

The proposal reached its predictable, premature death considering three of the members, including Haroon Rashid, have been supported by the departments all through their careers and after retiring from the game in some cases. The fourth one was Shakeel Shaikh who actually helped create the mess that was our domestic season just closed, with doubling of players and star cricketers being kept off match practice for weeks in between the season. Quality sacrificed to accommodate quantity.

Nevertheless the writ of the top has been established by overruling of their own newly formed selection committee by the calling in of four other players including Umar Amin. So are we to believe that the six gentlemen forgot about these four? Or should we be given to understand that they are not capable of player analysis. In either case, they are accountable; unless of course they had deliberately omitted these four and were later ordered to include them. Maybe the six walked in one morning to find these four standing and smiling at them with their kits slung over the shoulders saying: “And you thought you had the power.”

Whatever the case the selectors have lost the moral authority, if they had any in front of the players who know how the system works, whatever the sermons and intentions from the chairman’s room. It’s really sad for these are mostly good men, patriotic and hardworking and sincere. But they really should have known what they are walking into.

Sohaib Alvi

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