Experts will have expert reasons for why the Pakistan cricket team’s performance has been so inconsistent, if not uniformly disappointing, lately. Bad batting on our side. Good bowling on the other side. The weather. The crowd. The pitch. The expectations. There is no doubt all these may have played their part. But there is another factor plaguing the game : inconsistency and controversy in the affairs of the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB). The battle for the board’s top slot continues and Zaka Ashraf is once again back as chairman - his third reinstatement since May last year. Ashraf, who was last reinstated by the court in January, was sacked by the Prime Minister a month later and replaced by a committee headed by journalist Najam Sethi. This Saturday’s decision to bring Ashraf back has deepened uncertainty in cricketing affairs because all decisions by Sethi now stand null and void - including the appointments of head coach Waqar Younis and Zimbabwean batting coach Grant Flower.
While the political controversy in PCB shows that the incumbent government is not ready to tolerate a chief with a political affiliation other than the PML-N and betrays how easily a democratic government will exercise autocratic options to achieve its parochial goals, the oscillations in management are also costing Pakistani cricket heavily. New inductions into the side, offloading unnecessary support staff, reforming selection and imposing discipline on the team’s rank and file- these must be done in order to fix the rot ailing the game . But as long as these turf wars continue and the government appoints chairmen who lack the necessary background knowledge and experience to run this complex board, the important decisions will be left by the wayside. The bottom line is that the appointments of handpicked chairmen can never augur well for cricket in Pakistan. What the game needs is commitment and efficiency - not these hopeless games of politics and power.