Saturday, 26 January 2013

Cricket starts with ‘P’ in Pakistan

By Muhammad Asif Khan

You must be amazed by the header and a few might be laughing on my elementary knowledge of the English language, but I still stand by what I wrote in the header. In Pakistan the game of Cricket starts with ‘P’ not ‘C’. Here the ‘P’ mainly represents two aspects.

Firstly the ‘P’ refers to the President of the Country who, as soon as he takes the oath of his office, automatically becomes the Patron or the undisputed guardian of Cricketing affairs in the country.

Secondly, the Chairman of the body, which is responsible of running the cricketing matters in the country – Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) –, is appointed on the basis of his political – another ‘P’ - alignment with the President of the Country.

Later on, the Chairman of the Board appoints various individuals mainly to his likings or on the basic of some sort of political pressure on him.

Right from the top one hardly finds a check and balance mechanism in the Pakistan Cricket Board, and since there is no accountability hence the chairman feels free to exercise his will. In the majority of ICC member nations, Cricket does start with ‘C’ but in Pakistan this alphabet is highly politicised.

Almost everyday this statement is heard that sports should not be linked with politics. This is indeed the height of double standards because an organisation in which politics runs as blood, how can this desire of de-linking Sports & Politics be transformed into a reality, hence the dream – of depoliticising Cricket affairs – would remain a dream unless the words are not transformed in to meaningful actions.

Although the Pakistan Cricket Board has its own constitution like the other boards however after going thought the document one hardly finds a function without the approval of either the Patron – President of the Country – or the Chairman of the Board.

Under the chairman there are two important bodies mentioned in the PCB constitution – The Board of Governors and the General Body. The former comprised of regional & department’s representatives, technocrats and former cricketers etc and it’s responsibility is to manage the affairs of the PCB, whereas the General Body contains various PCB officials including the Chairman along with PCB’s full and associate members and honourary members. The responsibility of the General Body is to recommend to the Governing Board on various important matters.

After a brief introduction of the two configurations, let’s talk about the primary one first, which is Board of Governors in which two cricketers at the moment are Javed Miandad and Intikhab Alam. Interestingly, both acquire key slots in the PCB setup as well. Intikhab holds the position of the Director Game Development / Director Cricket
Operations (International) while Miandad is the Director General of the PCB, a post which is in fact not mentioned in the Constitution however it’s constitutional in a way because the Chairman holds the key and he can create any post for smooth operations.

Moving on, like the Governing Board, the PCB chairman also holds a slot in the General Body, means he is everywhere and can influence any or every major decision. The interference of the chairman is not limited to the administrative affairs only, even the matters of the National Cricket team - from the team selection to the appointment of a captain or a vice-captain - the final authority is the again the chairman of the PCB.  

Furthermore on the team matters in view of the constitution which explains the mechanism for the appointment of the supporting staff. Before moving forward, Let me quote the relevant clause first.

The clause 4(XVII) says “Objects and functions of PCB to engage or hire professional coaches, physiotherapists, trainers, groundsmen, doctors, experts and such other persons as may deemed appropriate for the purpose of development of the cricket infrastructure in Pakistan”

In view of this article, there is no room for consultants or nonprofessional coaches but the part “such other persons as may deemed appropriate for the purpose…” actually serves the purpose, hence with this liberty provided by the PCB constitution, the chairman can approve any action he feels appropriate for the betterment of the game.

This is not done by this PCB setup only, in the past as well. Right from the implementation of the existing constitution of 2007, nonprofessional coaches have accompanied the team but again the power to appoint an appropriate individual gives it a constitutional cover.

There is a disciplinary mechanism as well. The clause 4(XIV) is related to constitute tribunals to investigate or adjudicate upon disciplinary issues. Not so far ago in 2010 when a few cricketers were banned and fined but gradually they all made their way back. Yes they had gone through an investigation mechanism – which is a constitutional way- but the vagueness attached to the episode made it dubious. No official press statement from the PCB on the findings or the disciplinary proceedings made the process ambiguous. All we heard is that a certain player was found guilty or not.

As far as the recent disciplinary matters are concerned, two enquiries were recently launched by the PCB (1) The probe into the U-19 Cricket team’s performance. (2) Investigation against two umpires alleged of fixing by an India TV. Both the matters are in the dark as yet and nothing has come out in the open as yet. As far as the umpires case is concerned, the other two Boards – Bangladesh and Sri Lanka – have concluded their inquiries and handed down penalties to their official who were accused along with two Pakistanis – Nadeem Ghouri and Aneeduddin Siddiqui – in October last.

These shortcomings have a reason and the biggest of them all is the presence of the PCB chairman in almost every scenario. How one man can handle everything? Not possible humanly either.

To overcome these issues the excessive burden on the shoulders of the PCB chairman must be shared. Or in other way, the delegation of powers in a democratic manner might be the answer to these concerns. This is what the International Cricket Council (ICC) wants, which has given a deadline to all the boards to put in place a democratic system.

At the moment there is an election procedure at the regional level in the PCB however the top hierarchy is still handpicked, which is entirely in line with the exiting constitution too, therefore to introduce the democratic culture, the constitution of the Pakistan Cricket Board needs to be amended. What is being done in this regards is unknown as yet because the ICC deadline is also approaching fast. Apart from Pakistan, the Bangladesh Cricket Board is also controlled by a handpicked chairman however; they are reportedly on course of meeting the ICC requirements within the deadline.

I started with ‘P’ for Cricket and have come down to the need of ‘C’ for the check and balance. I believe unless this ‘C’ is wholeheartedly implemented the game of Cricket will remain politicised in Pakistan.

Tweets @mak_asif

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