The selection of Mohammad Amir to Pakistan’s national squad stirred up a hornet’s nest not just in the local media but also had the nation and former and current cricketers divided about the merits or demerits of the Pakistan Cricket Board’s decision.
Two of his teammates Mohammad Hafiz and Azhar Ali refused to join the camp and relented only after some convincing by the PCB.
Amir, Salman Butt and Mohammad Asif were banned for accepting money in a spot-fixing scandal involving a Test match at Lord’s against England in 2010.
The three players and their agent Mazhar Majeed were jailed by a British court in 2011.
They were also banned by the ICC for five years.
Amir was then only 18.
The ban has been served and Amir served notice of his precocious talent by handily claiming wickets by the bagful.
22 wickets in four non-first class games, another 34 in the Quaid-e-Azam trophy capped by another 14 in the Bangladesh Premier League.
The Pakistani selectors could hardly ignore him given their lack of pace options.
“My stance was based on principle and it was portrayed in a wrong sense. My stance is the same against all players who stained Pakistan’s image through corruption.
It’s my right to raise my voice, which I did, and I will do everything in my capacity to fight corruption. My stance is that all corrupt players should not be given another chance to represent Pakistan.”
The PCB stuck to their guns claiming that they were right.
Their statement read:
“There are a few players and commentators who are opposed to his selection. But in the past, spot fixers and drugs cheats have been permitted re-entry in to the international arena after serving their sentence. They include Marlon Samuels, Herschelle Gibbs, Tyson Gay [an American sprinter],
After serving his six-month probation, Amir has been participating in domestic first class cricket with success.
He has also performed well in the BPL. Accordingly, Amir has been called to the fitness camp which will enable him to bond with national players. His selection for the national team, for which he is eligible, would depend on the selectors.”
The PCB has a point. Amir has served his sentence and has to be given his chance for redemption.
Rashid Latif, who risked his career blowing the whistle on his former teammates in 1995, was not so forgiving.
“Amir is a living example of someone who betrayed Pakistan in an international match.
Let him live his life but don’t allow him to play for the country again. He can play domestic cricket and play in different leagues but don’t allow him to wear the same national colour which stalwarts like Hanif Mohammad, Imran Khan, Majid Khan, Wasim Bari, Fazal Mahmood and Javed Miandad wore with pride.”
Mohammad Yousuf felt otherwise.
“Amir is a wonderful bowler and since he has completed his sentence he has every right to play for Pakistan again.
Amir is performing very well since his ban was lifted and his inclusion will strengthen Pakistan team, so I back his inclusion.”
Azhar Mahmood, writing for PakPassion.net, said:
“I think it is the right thing to do and I support the PCB in this decision. Look, we as human beings are prone to make mistakes. This is human nature. In Amir’s case, he made a mistake and has served his punishment. Now that the ban has lapsed, it’s time for everyone to move forward and give him another chance. Even from a religious point of view, we need to forgive him and move on.”
Amir , the man at the centre of storm , said:
“I promise that I will do my best to respect the prestige of the green cap and Pakistan shirt.”
It’s a crying shame, really.
Shashank Manohar may have begun ‘Operation Clean-Up’ on the right foot but the even-handed BCCI President couldn’t prevent Shiv Sena activists from barging into his headquarters in Mumbai and disrupting the scheduled bilateral series talks with Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) counterpart Shahryar Khan.
Boria Majumdar puts it aptly in his column:
“In India we celebrate cultural tolerance and plurality, we are forever ready to uphold freedom of expression and speech and most importantly are always open to dialogue. What happened in Mumbai goes against the very grain of what we stand for and that’s what has left us all with a sour aftertaste. Had Shashank Manohar been able to tell Shahryar Khan that the series is off because the situation is not conducive or the government has not given bilateral cricket a go ahead, it would have been far better for both cricket Boards. But to see a meeting stymied by a few political extremists who barged into the office of the BCCI president, which was left unguarded and to see these pictures being transmitted round the world is rather disconcerting.”
The shame is not that a bilateral series between the two countries has once again been pushed onto the back-burner.
To be realistic, if the two boards were really intent on continuing relations, they could have easily opted to play in Abu Dhabi (as other cricketing nations have been doing) thus avoiding security concerns and untoward elements in either country.
That is not the nub of the issue.
If you were to read the newspapers and media reactions to Pakistani writers, cricketers and artistes, you would believe that anti-Pakistan sentiments are at an all-time high.
Is that really so?
Isn’t it more likely that certain opportunistic parties have raised the bogeyman once more to gain political mileage and divert attention of the general public from more pressing concerns about governance or rather the lack of it?
The more closely you look at the matter, the more apparent it becomes that having any sort of ties with the ‘enemy’ across the North-West border is a political decision. The mandarins in New Delhi have the final say.
Perhaps, realpolitik dictates otherwise.
For actual progress to occur, a nod must begin from the Prime Minister’s office and then only can the nation rest assured that change is in the air.
A bottom-up push is not the way to build bridges across a diplomatic divide.
That would be a revolution.
What he said:
“I think 99% of bowlers these days would fail the 15 degree test for at least one or more of their deliveries.”
Ace Pakistani off-spinner Saeed Ajmal is confident that he will beat the 15 degree flex rule and return in time for the 2015 World Cup.
Speaking to PakPassion.net, the banned bowler said:
“I’m very pleased with the assessment of Dr. King. It was very heartening to hear what he had to say. I was expecting a reduction to about 30 degrees but to see that some deliveries are down to 20 degrees is fantastic and positive news for me.
Also, what is really encouraging is that most of my deliveries are now within the 15 degree limit. The ICC’s rules of course stipulate that all deliveries have to be under 15 degrees and I’m very confident that I will achieve that target with the help of [former Pakistan offspinner] Saqlain Mushtaq and all the other individuals who are helping me and guiding me.”
On bowling the doosra:
“I’m working hard on adjusting the doosra to ensure that it is also under 15 degrees and I’m confident that I will manage to do that.”
Ajmal feels that the 15-degree limit is too strict.
“I think 99% of bowlers these days would fail the 15 degree test for at least one or more of their deliveries. I also think that the technology being used in match situations to assess bowling actions is too strict. I think they should use the normal television cameras to assess our bowling actions, but instead what is being used are cameras that can virtually see the blood running though our bodies.”
On whether the doosra will die out:
“No I don’t believe that will be the case. The doosra is an art and a weapon to use against batsmen. God willing when I am back playing international cricket, I will bowl the doosra with the same venom that I always have done. The doosra is part of my repertoire and a delivery that I intend to continue bowling in future.”
What he really meant:
“Well, if they bowl like me, they surely will. And the doosra, oh, for sure.”
What he definitely didn’t:
“I’m trying to be an off-spinner in the classical mould. None of these newfangled outlandish deliveries for me.”
What he said:
“Misbah is an innocent captain, if someone else given the statement over captaincy, he will be thrown in the sea.”
Ijaz Butt renews his feud with Shahid Afridi taking umbrage at the all-rounder’s statements about Misbah-ul-Haq’s captaincy. The remarks sparked speculation that the 40-year-old will step down as skipper for the World Cup given his recent run of low scores.
“Every captain has his own approach and I can’t be Misbah and Misbah can’t be Afridi. If he is comfortable with his approach then what is the problem? But players around him should not become Misbah. Each player has his own strengths and he should carry out what he is capable of rather than suppressing himself.
If he [Misbah] is winning matches with his approach then what is the problem? I am different and have an aggressive nature. I love to play aggressive cricket because people in my country are aggressive, my players are aggressive and I want them to play aggressive cricket. I love watching them playing aggressive in the field. I know when they play aggressive cricket, they are expressing themselves.”
“Earlier, the time and the atmosphere was different after the spot-fixing. It was tough to gel the dressing room but I treated every player accordingly; younger were given affection and some needed to be given fear of the stick. You know our nation runs on the strength of a stick.
But captaincy in Pakistan is a challenge. I was aggressive even off the field. It haunted my earlier stint. I have learnt the lesson though; things should be operated amicably. But my mindset in the field is the same as a leader is the one who should decide the playing XI, he is the one who has to get his boys to fight on the ground. He knows what he wants and he is the one who has to face everything after the match. Whoever is the captain, he should be given ample authority to pick his best players.”
The stick Afridi refers to was very much in evidence when the controversial and temperamental talent recanted his criticism of Misbah.
He clarified later in a statement issued by the Pakistani Cricket Board (PCB):
“Let me state at the very outset, Misbah is the best choice as Pakistan captain for the ICC World Cup 2015. I have always backed him to the optimum whenever I have played under him, just as he had when I had the honour to captain the Pakistan team.
I have said this before, and I reiterate, that I shall continue to serve Pakistan Cricket and fully support Misbah to the best of my ability.
This is my final statement on the issue.”
Ijaz Butt was PCB chief when Afridi was sacked as captain of the T20 and ODI sides in 2011 on disciplinary grounds.
What Butt really meant:
“I don’t really like Shahid Afridi. I like Misbah. He’s a lamb. Afridi’s a shark. He should be thrown back into the ocean.”
What he definitely didn’t:
“You know that we can’t let Afridi go, at least, not until the World Cup’s over. So…”
“I was a hero for them after the World Cup and suddenly I became zero.”
Shahid Afridi is quite certain that the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) flip-flops in its attitude to him. Ijaz Butt, PCB Chairman, is the target of his ire. The former Pakistan captain labelled PCB officials hypocrites calling them ‘two-faced’ for blaming him for the ODI losses in the Windies despite his non-involvement in the selection process.
What he really meant:
“Butt thinks I’m good as long as I’m good to him.Convenient.”
What you wish he said:
“PCB officials would be excellent advisors on how to build roller-coasters.”
If the Indian cricket team had selected Baba Ramdev as the team physio, then the men in blue could have been as flexible on the field as the sadhu himself. However, his insidious influence would rub off on them and at the first signs of terror from pace bowlers, bruised batsmen would migrate to women’s cricket.
If Barack Obama were to lose the 2012 Presidential elections, he could always consider coaching the Los Angeles Lakers. “Yes, we can” would resonate with Lakers fans, too. “It’s not the economy, stupid” could do just as well.
Imran Khan slams the public row between the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) and Shahid Afridi.
What he really meant:
“The national cricket board and their cricketers are always at loggerheads—to the detriment of Pakistani cricket.”
What he definitely didn’t:
In another blow to Shahid Afridi’s hopes of returning to the Pakistani cricket team, the team management made public a team psychiatrist’s report on the dashing all-rounder.
Mr. Gind Mames, a consulting psychotherapist, said that the former Pakistani ODI skipper is overly influenced by sports persons who have retired from their sport only to return in another attempt to regain youthful glory.
“Afridi is a huge fan of Michael Jordan, Michael Schumacher, Bjorn Borg, Imran Khan,George Foreman and Martina Navratilova, among others.” said Mr. Mames.
(With apologies to the Express Tribune)
Bookies and ‘matka’ kings in India have reacted swiftly to the guidelines introduced by the Pakistan Cricket Board for agents of cricketers.
Steps have been taken to nullify every step taken by the Pakistani cricketing body, by simply mirroring the PCB’s moves.
“PCB has now made it mandatory for all agents to get themselves registered with it”
—The Association of Bookies and Matka Kings (ABMK) have made it mandatory for agents to get themselves registered with them—unofficially, of course.