A few months back who 6would have thought that the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB), after taking a strong view and position in regards to the attempts of the ‘Big-3’ to virtually take over the ICC, would go-down on its knees so soon and adopt a groveling posture towards the trio, suddenly realizing that the continued opposition to the move could jeopardize its chances to remain on the chess board besides losing substantial amounts of money that it badly needed to keep the board afloat. Well that has happened. It is indeed a fast changing world.
This change of mind indicates two things. First, the initial response was not firmed up as a result of an informed decision making process and reflected an impulsive and imprudent indiscretion on the part of the PCB. Secondly, the PCB chiefs belonging to totally alien fields of expertise were not savvy of the intricacies of the cricketing world and the changed realities, excessively tinged with commercialism and the power that goes with it.
Taking a somersault on a stated position is indeed embarrassing to say the least and a stark reminder of the proverb ‘think before you leap’. If the PCB had deliberated on the subject thoroughly with the help of the people having intimate knowledge of currents and cross currents in regards to managing international cricket affairs and evaluated the strength of the ‘Big-3’ in influencing and cajoling other cricket playing nations to side with them, the PCB would have saved itself from the self-inflicted embarrassment and may be, clinched a better deal for itself than it has now.
The new approach is characterized by the maxim ‘if you cannot defeat them, join them’ and may be the PCB might have to make more compromises even on the promises the PCB chairman Najam Sethi boasts of having extracted from the ‘Big-3’ for joining the queue of followers. My considered view is that the PCB needs expert negotiators for dealing with the ICC affairs, especially with the ‘Big-3’ to make sure that the promises made with it are fulfilled to the maximum extent. The major focus in the coming years should be on bringing international cricket back to Pakistan which would surely bring much greater financial benefits to the board than playing on neutral venues outside Pakistan and strengthening its clout in running cricket affairs at the national and international level.
The PCB chairman in his press conference revealed that all the Test playing nations have agreed on playing reciprocal series with Pakistan between 2015-2023 and it would earn Pakistan Rs 30 billion. One can only hope and pray that he is vindicated in this regard. He also revealed that the ban on M Amir could be curtailed by one year due to the envisaged changes in the rules of the ICC and he could make an early return to the international cricket. As a consequence of this revelation, some circles are also demanding of the PCB to plead the case of other banned cricketers like M Asif and Salman Butt.
In my view pleading the case of the cricketers who brought shame to the entire nation reflects our moral bankruptcy. Honour of the country takes precedence over all other considerations and it cannot be compromised no matter how great a player is, who brings disgrace to the country. That is not the way of civilized nations. Examples of Andrew Symonds of Australia and Keven Petersen of England are before us. They have been shown the door for breach of the team discipline only. Hansie Cronje of South Africa was banned and never restored to the international cricket after his proven and self-admitted involvement in match-fixing. We also have a precedent of a great player like Saleem Malik who was banned for life for similar offence as committed by the trio of M Amir, M Asif and Salman Butt. We need to show consistency in dealing with such cases and applying the same standard of morality for everybody.
I am a great admirer of M Amir’s bowling skills. Players like Ricky Ponting were found struggling against his guile and pace. Losing him is a great loss for the country and the cricketing world. People would indeed miss him for a long time to come. But there cannot and should not be any compromise on the prestige and honour of the country. The PCB should give up pleading his case or for that matter anybody else who is involved in such immoral activities consciously. The trio, are not kids to claim innocence. Keeping them out of cricket would act as a great deterrent against similar indiscretions by Pakistani cricketers in the future. The PCB needs to send a loud and clear message that it would not allow the cricketers to soil the honour and prestige of the country.