There is din of different voices and opinions circling around the fate of the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB), but they all seem to agree on one thing; it is time for an overhaul. Yesterday the parliament waded into the matter with Federal Minister for Inter-Provincial Coordination – who also oversees the country’s sports section - Riaz Hussain Pirzada saying that there are several “sifarshis” at the helm of affairs in the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) who have ruined the popular game due to their injudicious ways. With former players and commentators also echoing this notion, the pressure is surely on for Najam Sethi and Shahrayar Khan.

However the there seems to be very little consensus on who is supposed to go, who is supposed to replace him and what changes need to be made. According to the bowling coach for Pakistan, the fault doesn’t lie with the board, but with the players, who have been ‘playing for themselves’. While comparing the performance of the Pakistan women’s side and men he said, “It hurts me to say this but the pride and passion of playing for your country is missing from some of the current Pakistani cricketers”. Many – including the head coach Waqar Younis – agree to this, and the dispirited body language of the team did nothing to help dispel this notion. So who is to blame here, the board or the players?

The prudent answer is – both. Just because the players lacked spirit and discipline does not exempt the board from its shortcomings and similarly political appointments at the top does not excuse bad performances. The present board has had some success; it managed to pull off the inaugural Pakistan Super League (PSL) with great aplomb and the Test squad seems to be enjoying a purple patch. Yet it cannot be denied that instead of fostering harmony and effective work ethic – the main responsibility of the board – it has instead lead to a fractured and polarized squad that is busy fighting each other. When the forte of those at the top is politics rather than cricket, you can expect them to inculcate the same values in the team.

The players need to shape up too. Anyone not matching the minimum fitness levels needs to be axed from the squad, regardless of their talent or star power. The future of cricket is dominated by professional athletes, not rotund kids playing the sport as a pastime.
This is the time for drastic change, otherwise Pakistan is fast headed towards cricketing mediocrity.