The Pakistani cricket has been reeling under the continued onslaught of vindictive umpires, in-house intrigues and players’ indiscipline. On the 20th of August at The Oval on the fourth day of the final Test match, umpire Darrell Hair awarded 5 runs and a change of ball to the England side as a penalty for ball-tampering by the Pakistanis. There was no evidence of any tampering, but crucially the Pakistani side continued to play the remaining 15 overs till the tea break. During the tea break, captain Inzamam who leaves his brains at home when out touring it seems – suddenly made the whole issue into a matter of prestige and refused to go back to play. He was asked twice by the umpires whether he was coming out or not but on both occassions he asked to see the ball which the umpires are not obliged to do so. Finally the team was led out onto the field by Inzi but by then the umpires had whipped the bails off and awarded the match to England-the first time in the 130-year history of the game that a match had been forfeited by any side. So we will go “down” in history once more.
Inzi was subsequently cleared of the ball-tampering charge but found guilty of the charge of bringing the game of cricket into disrepute, and banned for 4 one-day matches. For these matches the vice-captain Younis Khan was nominated captain. But on October 5 he impetuously announced in a press conference that he would not be a “dummy” captain and said he would not lead Pakistan in the Champions Trophy 2006 for which the team was to leave two days later. Apparently this happened because he was asked to wait 5 minutes when he came unannounced a little while earlier to see the Chairman! These hot-headed Pathans also leave their brains at home – in the tandoor I think.
The Chairman Shaharyar Khan totally frustrated by this avalanche of players’ misbehaviour announced his resignation on 6 October. The same day Dr Nasim Ashraf was named Chairman and Younis Khan reinstated as captain. Dr Ashraf was a US-based physician who ran an NGO in the Washington DC area when he was asked by Musharraf – reportedly on the recommendation of Maliha Lodhi, HC to the UK and who had known him when she was ambassador to the USA- to set up a National Commission for Child and Human Development in Pakistan, and is now an advisor to the President with the status of a Minister of State . Doctor Sahib belongs to Mardan (another Pathan but perhaps mellowed by his years in the USA) and in 1969 played a few first-class matches. So he is no stranger to cricket. He was also a member for the past two years of the adhoc committee managing the affairs of the Pakistan Cricket Board.
On October 16 Pakistan cricket was rocked by another bombshell when its two leading fast bowlers Shoaib Akhtar and Muhammad Asif tested positive for using a banned performance-enhancing drug and were hurriedly called back from India just a day before Pakistan’s first match against Sri Lanka. Pakistan won the match – without Inzi, Shoaib and Asif. These players are getting too big for their boots, and they should be punished and sidelined so that they realise they are not indispensable, and that matches can be won without them as well.
Fahad Punjwani FY