ISLAMABAD - Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) is paying no heed to resolve long-standing issues of domestic cricket in the country, which need drastic improvement and proper attention.
Pakistan domestic cricket structure needs complete overhauling and that too on urgent basis as there are a number of loopholes due to which majority of players, who get a chance to represent national team, vanished after a couple of matches, as they lack basic techniques required at international stage.
All the major cricket playing nations emphasize on improving their domestic structure, as the main hub of getting talented players is the domestic circuit. They keep on introducing revolutionary changes time-to-time and prepare pitches according to their international requirements, but the situation is completely different when it comes to Pakistan. Despite being fully aware of the fact that international cricket has not been played in the country for the last four years, the PCB has not been taking some revolutionary steps in this regard. They should prepare pitches keeping in mind their international commitments and also utilize the National Cricket Academy (NCA), where an army of PCB employees are always available, for this purpose in a better way.
The most urgent thing which the PCB needs to implement and that too on war-footings is to keep a close check on the standard of umpiring in domestic cricket which is going from worse to worst. The players get a number of favours from the umpires, which instead of helping them, have been destroying their careers. They are use to get away with LBWs and even caught behind wickets.
Another main issue witnessed in a number of domestic matches is that players abuse too much, create scenes on and off the pitch and a number of incidents were reported of players attacking the field umpires, but the PCB failed to take any action. Video cameras were installed to monitor umpires’ performance, but the PCB never bothered to take help from the hidden cameras and no action was taken over poor umpiring, players and their attitude.
The PCB has started right-sizing drive for cost cut measures, but the entire process is very dubious as it makes no sense of showing door to low-paid employees, who are hardly getting any significant amount, but on the other hand, high profile personalities, who are doing nothing and are not more than liabilities, are enjoying all the perks and privileges. Some eye-opening examples are Javed Miandad who is doing nothing for the betterment of cricket but getting a very hefty monthly salary; Zakir Khan, who was general manager international cricket and now for the past few years he is working as GM domestic, hardly bothers to travel to different venues to watch players in action while Intikhab Alam, who is long associated with PCB, has also not playing any significant role for the development of the game.
The most important and area of high importance is the very negative role of PCB General Manager Media, who often doesn't bother to attend journalists’ call, always try to hush up things, and looked busy is personal promotion and tours rather than focusing on his primary job that is to facilitate journalists and playing a role of bridge between the board and media.
All the other cricket-playing nations give top priority to hiring the services of trainers, video analysts, massager, physio, manager and coaches for batting, bowling and fielding, but the situation is entirely different in Pakistan as majority of regions don't even have the services of video analysts and trainers, which is quite astonishing. The players need trainers and video analysts who play a major role in defying players’ errors and help them removing their flaws and keep on providing important data.
The PCB is also working on showing door to coaches of different regions, which will be a disaster for local players, as coaches play important role in preparing them well for domestic cricket and they also know each and every players’ pros and cons so also help them in removing their flaws and improving their skills. It makes absolutely no sense of terminating the coaches’ contract for saving few pennies. The board should get rid of highly-paid staffers, who are doing nothing but getting handsome salaries beside other benefits not the coaches, who have been playing major role in giving country future stars.
Some quarters are also demanding the relegation of departments from domestic cricket. It is by no means a reasonable demand as departments play major role in helping the board and the country in bearing players’ monthly salaries, providing them with jobs and spend huge amount on players’ accommodation and traveling and above all, provide the country with a number of quality players, who, after performing in domestic circuit, book their places in the green colors. These so-called well-wishers of the game were not even aware about the basic of cricket but they just want to create unwanted and uncalled hurdles for players and board.
When it comes to domestic events which the cricket board held throughout the year 2013, Quaid-e-Azam comes on top. It was Karachi Blues team which won the prestigious Quaid-e-Azam Trophy after defeating Sialkot by nine wickets in the final played at Gaddafi Stadium Lahore from February 24-28. The inaugural edition of President's Trophy, as Patrons Trophy was renamed as President's Trophy, was won by SNGPL who edged out HBL by 75 runs in the final played at National Stadium, Karachi from January 14-18.
Faisalabad Wolves stunned hot-favorites Sialkot Stallions by 36 runs to lift the Faisal Bank Super-8 title while Karachi Zebras and Lahore Lions were declared joint winners of Faisal Bank One-Day Cup, as rain interrupted in the final played at Rawalpindi Cricket Stadium. Fata lift the title of Faisal Bank T20 new regions title beating Dera Murad Jamali by five wickets in the final played at Multan Cricket Stadium.
PTV clinched the Patrons Trophy Grade-II title after outclassing KESC by five wickets in the final played at Mirpur Cricket Stadium and were promoted to Grade-I. There is absolutely no check and balance on senior and junior inter-district championships as neither the regions nor the board bothered to look into the affairs of inter-regions cricket, where players were given access to new records with teams involved in match-fixing and a number of officials were punished for their dubious role. The PCB needs to take this matter of grave importance seriously, as this act is promoting unhealthy activity, which is dangerous, and piousness for Pakistan cricket and its future.
Bilawal Bhatti, Sharjeel Khan, Sohaib Maqsood, Haris Sohail, Asad Ali, Anwar Ali, Zulfiqar Baber and a few others remained very lucky to get call for national team in 2013, but played like Abid Ali, who scored 1,083 runs in 16 innings, Ali Waqas who collected 1,065 runs in 15 innings, Akbarur Rehman who scored 986 runs in only 10 innings, failed to get the selectors’ eye, while in bowling department, Azam Hussain took 66 wickets, Adnan Rasool 61 wickets and Atif Maqbool 55 wickets but they were also deprived of selection in the national squad, while Asad Ali, Rahat Ali, Ahsan Adil and Anwar Ali succeed in getting a call for the national team.
The most significant thing which the PCB has done in 2013 is the change of format, as now players can concentrate on four-day and one-day cricket on same time. This is very laudable step of the PCB and will help a great deal to players waiting in the wings to join the national team, as they will be mentally and physically prepared to adjust to all forms of cricket. Before this decision, the domestic cricket was only played on single format but introduction of four-day and one-day is a step in the right direction. The PCB must chalk out a comprehensive plan to ensure cricket should be played round the year under all conditions. If international teams are not willing to travel to Pakistan, the PCB at least prepare pitches accordingly. Though they can't provide same conditions, yet they can ensure identical pitches, which will help the players in removing their batting flaws and bowlers to adjust their lines.
The PCB appointed Zaheer Abbas as advisor to Interim Committee Chairman Najam Sethi, but it is a very restricted role and certainly to no use for a legend like Zaheer and PCB. The board should give an active role to Zaheer as Pakistan team is in dire need of a world-class professional like Zaheer, who is more than capable of helping the batsmen in removing their major and minor mistakes. Zaheer should be given more powers and his services should be properly utilized, rather than giving him a minor role of an advisor, which is by no means respectable one for such a high-profile personality.
The cricket board must adopt measures of saving the national wealth by taking genuine steps and work on long term plan as patch work will serve no purpose to team and the board. The professionals should be taken on board to improve domestic structure while umpires’ performances should be properly monitored, they should be rewarded for exceptional performances and punished for poor judgments and trouble-makers should get exemplary punishments for bringing the game into dispute as solid and concrete steps will serve the PCB and the country and help improve their reputation worldwide.