India has solidly beaten the Australians after a sterling performance. Bangladesh almost took the New Zealanders out in another display of courage and determination. In the first test India, back against the wall, batted the entire day lead by the incomparable, world's highest run scorer ever, Sachin Tendulkar, to save what was an already lost test match. It is high time that Pakistan 'takes the bit' and responds. In the present day scenario perhaps even to discuss the present day plight of a game beyond a simple shrug of shoulders is frivolous. But this game is the Pakistani peoples' addiction and considering that Pakistan's superiority in not one but three sports, the other two being hockey and squash, has dwindled to way below mediocrity there is certainly room for discussion. And a robust one at that. Sport is extremely important as a distraction, in this bomb, terror and economy ravaged country. Unfortunately being poor losers, the performance of Pakistan's teams today leads to serious emotional outbursts. Not only among the fans but also with the players and cricket administrators. This has got to be, undoubtedly, one of the major reasons teams of substance don't want to visit. Security concerns of the terror variety being a more plausible excuse. Let it be noted though that no team has ever been attacked by terror in Pakistan. Glass bottles, stones, oranges and disruption through hooliganism, yes; terror no. The new government has attempted to address the concerns by making appointments at the helm of both cricket and hockey. Ijaz Butt and Qasim Zia are both former sportsmen, Butt having had some sort of role in cricket at one time or another over the last five decades. I recall meeting Ijaz Butt fairly often in the 1958-59 period, when I too had my heart set on a green cap. But the image that comes to mind very clearly is seeing him walking back to the pavilion in great pain, and anguish, when, after scoring 56 difficult runs, he was run-out with Alan Davidson literally sat on him mid-way. It was typical of Australian 'sportsmanship'. I also happened to be in the dressing room when Benaud and Davidson were ticked-off in no uncertain terms by a senior member of Pakistan's cricket administration. That Karachi test was memorable in more ways than just the one; Intikhab's first ball wicket and the visit by the US President Dwight Eisenhower. Anyway, now that the much maligned (not necessarily all correct) Naseem Ashraf has gone there is the urgent need to get on with the game and not enter into the topsy-turvy phase that adds more confusion than good. Butt's detractors cite age and his political connections as being negatives but one hears he is known to be a disciplinarian. Granted he is not the 'fresh' blood that was expected and Pakistan cricket does desperately need a brand new image. This is the peoples' expectation of the new PCB head. The game is fortunate that it did not fall into the hands of professional players desperately wanting control over the game's management. This is the perfect recipe for disaster and for while, this appeared to be the course based on statements attributed to the law minister as chairman of the sports ministers' committee. Although Butt may have been a player, he is from the times that gentlemen indulged in the sport, and with enough management experience at the corporate level to understand the needs. Look, democracy is great but sport has different dynamics. The principal one being discipline. Mental and physical. Sport cannot be run on democratic lines, it is a selection process not an election process. Merit and only merit must matter. So let's split the operation. The cricket playing division, the producing unit so to speak, this is the major asset. And the business side, which is management of the major asset to produce the very best results from the best available resource. Cricketers with unblemished records can be associated with the cricketing aspect in specified roles. The operations aspect has to be managed by a corporate administrator of exceptional quality. Given carte blanche and guaranteed unqualified support for a period of three years. There will be a reaction. The stakes are high. But so are the nation's stakes. The PCB employs the cricketers on lucrative contracts. They must deliver. The first step should be to evaluate the players' contracts. If the 'deliverables' are unclear they must be enumerated and specified. Those contracted must be read the relevant clauses of the contract and informed that strict adherence is required. A period of two months should be allowed to ensure full conformity to the terms and conditions. Within the period of the contract, the players should demonstrate their physical and mental fitness during a five-day working week. No flexible hours permitted during the week and no absenteeism. Tough maybe, but essential because glaring irresponsibility and immaturity is rampant. Once they are ready to assume the responsibilities expected of adulthood and representation at the national level there should be periodical review. Recent occurrences and the attitude of some players have brought the game immense disrepute. These incidents are the cause of loss of focus and concentration, elements of extreme importance at the pinnacle. The team's focus has already been badly impaired with the infusion of religious fundamentalism. The players are contracted to play the game on the field and in the dressing room. Religion is very personal and should be honoured as such in private. In psychological terms any excess that detracts from focus can be termed as a "chink in the armour" easily exploitable by the opposing side. Pakistan cricket fell ransom to this. Actions of the PCB, the selections of the captains and teams appeared to reinforce this. Player blackmail came to rule. Merit was unceremoniously discarded. Youngsters got a chance only if the principal players were pleased. In the last five years, captaining from the dressing room and making a mockery of the middle order, Inzamam made absolutely certain no one of merit could challenge his place in the side. A classic example is Misbahul Haq. He played cricket ten years later than he should have. Because the once prolific Inzimam, felt threatened. This is no great revelation, it is common knowledge. Cricket administration has historically ignored the deficiencies of every 'star', damaging the individual and the national team. Players have been perpetrated on the basis of perceptions and they have managed these to suit their situations. Some have played the game for a decade or more without learning a single aspect of the game or correcting their weaknesses. And today, as a commentator reported yesterday, enough research is electronically done on every individual player exposing their Achilles' heal. This demands even greater mental toughness and discipline. It is for intelligent, astute, selectors to be able to assess the ability of an individual to rise to the challenge. That no one is indispensable is a given. Even India's "Fab Five", with 35,000 runs and 800 wickets between them are being asked to prove that the sun hasn't set for them. Ijaz Butt, more than anyone else, needs to lead the way and rise to the challenges himself so that others may follow. The game of cricket needs to be set right through governance of the same quality as in major cricket playing nations. He should lay the foundations of this revolution. Yes, give the new chairman the longest rope to run with. And let him hang whoever doesn't live up to the mark. The writer is a political analyst E-mail: