Dr Zafar Altaf

In my times I had attended about five ICC meetings with the President of the Pakistan Cricket Board Skipper Hafiz Kardar and each meeting was about cricket and improving the standards of the game and a perpetual effort at getting new members in to the fold. In fact it was skipper Kardar that wrote and got ICC membership to Sri Lanka. The President of the Sri Lanka board was Mt Senanayke the brother of the President of Sri Lanka. What has the ICC come down to from those pristine heights may well be imagined. The president of the ICC was always from the UK till Skipper had this changed. The headquarters were to be shifted on a rotation basis each year and all countries to be given the opportunity to host the members. The first option was accepted while the second got stuck at Dubai. But the fact that cricket was the main agenda and that Pakistan was able to contribute to the agenda and the thought process is something that was appreciated. The preparation for the thought process started early in the PCB headquarters where letters were written to various board s to give a collective point of view on issues that were facing the ICC. These views were always pertaining to cricket and there was no politics involved. Money had not entered the equation.

Since the coming of Packer and the Sharja matches money took the front seat. On my first visit to Sharja I noticed local people raising one or to fingers and talking sign language. I inquired what this was. They told me that betting was going on between the locals. As long as it was amongst the locals I felt that I need not worry too much.The ICC as a knowledge oriented body was supposed to solve cricket problems. Instead of solving them they were using the forum to suit their playing conditions. They would bring in rules that suited the local playing conditions and their own strengths.

Skipper Kardar took offence to this and was very vocal. He Englishman was petrified of him because they knew that his knowledge of cricket was very superior to the rest of the attending members. Since we went well prepared he would make sure that those who were there in the meeting were genuine representatives of the countries that they were to represent. An English cricketer from Worcester was removed from the meeting because he was not representing Australia as he had no letter of representation from the Australian Board.

The real test of ICC came with the bribery element. The Pakistani cricketers that were implicated and later sentenced indicated the diluted standards that were prevailing in the judicial system.  The three Pakistani cricketers implicated by the courts in UK for match fixing were done in by diluted evidence that could not have been provided as evidence in any court of law. As against this the match fixing in IPL is being ignored by the corruption committee that was set up by the ICC. It is my understanding that all these new technologies and the furtherance of committees is only to provide jobs to also ran Englishmen. There is a dearth of jobs. ICC rules itself to matters of regulation but why was Venghat the umpire for the final changed overnight without informing the playing sides. In his place was brought in David Shepherd. David’s judgment had become faulty and the Pakistani team had commented on this in the reports that are given after every match by the manager and the captain to the organisers. So it was surprise that overnight the change had been affected. Pakistan team had great regards for Venghat who had played with some distinction for India. At lunch Dickie Bird [one of the best umpires]  met me while going for Lunch and his comment was that the match had be undone by the umpiring decisions of David. Inzamam was one of the sufferer of the decisions. There are a couple of fetish that the ICC suffers from. First that more jobs should be found and hence the third umpire concept along with the match referee. All retired players of the County system find a job there. Is the ICC then meant to provide jobs only to the county players? Only one Pakistani Talat was asked to work as referee. The only Sri Lankan was Madugalle. The entire ICC is loaded in favor of the county players and I refuse to believe that this is based on facts other than racism. The Atherton episode of ball tempering was swept under the carpet and so was the recent episode in Sharja where a player was caught with ball tempering. If these are the standard to be employed and if this is what cricket has come down to then I am afraid the end of the game is at hand. ICC was to look after cricket maters and adjuncts were not part of the constitutional part of the game. Remember this game was to be played without caste or creed. That is why Pakistan insisted that South Africa get rid of its racist polices and only then should they be invited back. Cricket is that much better for it.

Repeatedly the cricket authorities are tempering with the high philosophy of the game. Someday I will be able to write on the high philosophy and how an upright game has been made the handmaiden of technology. I would rather live with the finer points of human error and the human element in it. Technology cannot be allowed to ride human affairs. I refuse and decline having been part of such s system. The Umpires have a head gear and the light meter and what will it be next. Do we not know when the light is bad, do we not know when the playing conditions are bad for the game and do we not know when cleverness comes in cricket. ICC was meant to take decisions based on cricket and not on money matters. Who cares how much money is generated by which country. We know that the richest persons are those with east virtues. Money is most with the women of easy virtue. Cricket on the other hand is about virtue and a character that is better than Caesar’s wife. Get the sums write for these are based on intangibles.