PCB And The Mysterious Frontman

It is the politicians with their handpicked cricket managers who are ruining the great sport of cricket in Pakistan

PCB And The Mysterious Frontman

Inspiration is a strange phenomenon. It can elude you for months but can suddenly reenter your life like a whirlwind romance without an inkling of a warning. 

 For the last few months, I had been visiting my home in Pakistan. Managing domestic duties, inflation, and family engagements, which stole every ounce of my creative energy and time. As your parents grow old, and if you're an only child, the sudden responsibilities can hamper you, and hence, inspiration departs towards greener pastures.

However, as soon as I boarded the plane to Dubai, a sudden wave of relaxation gripped my whole being. Even the drab cup of coffee on the plane galvanized me, and I felt like my intellectual power was back! 

On the flight, I watched a film called "The Lesson", a top-notch British film which was incidentally about writers, the writer's block, life and its intricate facets. Hence, here I am, writing once again.

Over the past few months, Pakistan cricket, in my opinion, has taken an absolute nosedive. 

The mysterious Federal Interior Minister Mohsin Naqvi has taken over the reigns, and it seems that the situation has worsened. Not that it was soaring in the sky under either Ramiz Raja, his predecessors, or his successors. But at least Ramiz and the likes of Mr Najam Sethi were far more experienced, as far as cricket is concerned. 

Honestly, it is the politicians with their handpicked cricket managers who are ruining the great sport of cricket in Pakistan.

Talking about ruining matters, one of the worst decisions of the Naqvi era thus far has been the reinstatement of Babar Azam as skipper! It would be fair to say that this is the most obnoxious decision in Pakistan cricket to date. We have all witnessed some rather atrocious decision-making in Pakistan cricket over many decades, but this one takes the cake and the entire bakery.

In my opinion, Babar does not even deserve a place in Pakistan's T20 squad. He plays this format purely for its glamour and to get league offers to further swell his coffers. He is a Pakistani brand, no doubt, and boasts a lot of quality and class in his stroke play, but what he is not is a T20 player. And let's not even go towards strike rates and selfish innings! More than that, he is not a captain by any means or stretch of imagination. 

It is not as if Babar has not had a chance to prove himself as a leader of men. He was the captain for many moons. He always made empty promises to become a strong leader, but never delivered. 

Ever since the announcement, which gave him yet another opportunity to assert his ability, but he failed as a captain, again.

I have been picking my brain as to why Mr Naqvi would hand him the captaincy once more? The only logic I could come up with was that these men share the Punjab domicile! There is no other explanation. It's simply a mind-boggling executive order that reeks of provincialism! 

Babar wore the captain's hat for four years. Under his captaincy, we did not win anything substantial. Rather, we lost precious tests at home, semifinals and finals. Mark my words: with him returning as the captain, we are going to be returning empty-handed from the Caribbean. There is absolutely no way he should be leading the team in this universe or a parallel one! 

The man has no flair or penchant for leadership, and it shows from every drop of his demeanour. 

Another glaring problem that I suspect the men in green are encountering vis-à-vis the captaincy charade is a rift in the team! 

Imagine if I were Shaheen Afridi and only after four games in charge was I disgracefully backstabbed by the Pakistan Cricket Board and removed as the captain; how would I feel? Disgusted!

I feel Babar Azam should have refused the offer of captaincy. However, I strongly feel he may have had more to do with the episode of sacking Shaheen Afridi than we have been made to believe. 

He, in fact, might have led that orchestra! 

This entire scenario has, in all probability, damaged the team's unity. I've seen this drama many times before, and there is only one direction it's going towards, and that's the team spirit getting dented by the partisan behaviour of the cricket board and Babar Azam! 

Pakistan team's morale appeared to have plummeted during the New Zealand series, which they managed to barely draw. This was a C-grade Kiwi team, yet they almost beat a full-strength Pakistan team with Babar at the helm.

I am sure the frontman Naqvi must have had his heart in his mouth at seeing his choice of captain backfiring. Ironically, his blushes were spared by the slightest of margins by guess who? Shaheen Shah Afridi.

It is no surprise that Pakistan cricket is suffering. It is in the wrong politically driven hands, with little to no knowledge about cricket and its management.

The future doesn't look too Bonny and blight for the men in green. Imagine a car going forward in reverse gear! It doesn't!

Before I end this rather desolate piece, I want to shift my focus a little on women's cricket. 

Pakistan women's team was performing quite sweetly. They did well at home against the South Africans and solidified that showing in New Zealand.

However, recently, against the West Indies, they appeared to be clueless and perhaps overconfident. 

Once again, the reason for this change in performance is the strange decisions made behind the scenes by the cricket board might have been integral in this beleaguered showing by our women .

I believe Marina Iqbal and Asmavia were doing a good job with the team. There was no need to add men to the selector's entourage, that too a known misogynist like Abdul Razzaq.

If anything, Razzaq should be appointed as the men's power-hitting coach and not a selector for the women's team. 

For women, it's a huge deal to be comfortable with their co-workers, and I don't think the women could be at ease with the former dashing all-rounder who often passes derogatory remarks about well-respected women!

In this scenario, I feel it's an uncomfortable task to work alongside him! 

(I don't expect some of the men at the helm of PCB to really understand this).

I feel there was no need to add Asad Shafiq and Razzaq to the selection panel; Marina Iqbal and Asmavia should have been allowed to handle the selection; they are quite capable.

A party or soirée is not always the answer to success, and too many cooks often spoil the broth.

The author is a senior cricket analyst and is Asia's first woman cricket commentator.