The growing instability of Pakistani cricket

Mohammed Amir’s latest indiscretion highlights the fractured and chaotic nature of the Pakistan Cricket Board.

Mohammad Amir
Amir in action against England just days before he was implicated in spot-fixing allegations [GALLO/GETTY] 

Pakistan fast bowler Mohammed Amir escaped with a telling-off after breaking the terms of his worldwide ban by playing for a village cricket side in England.

The young Pakistan seamer, serving a five year suspension from all cricket for his part in last summer’s spot-fixing scandal, received a formal letter from the International Cricket Council this week.

“He was warned as to his future conduct and was reminded in the strongest terms of the conditions of his ban,” ICC spokesman Colin Gibson said, leaving many questioning the severity of the punishment.

Amir played for Addington 1743 in a Surrey Cricket League Division One game just five months into his ban, on June 9th. The ban, imposed by an independent tribunal in Doha in February, was made clear – running from September 2010, applying to all forms of cricket.

Claiming he was unaware the match he played in wasn’t a recognised England & Wales Cricket Board (ECB) game, he said he had received assurances to that effect.

Amir’s ignorance at the enormity of his actions may or may not be valid, but it’s clear that any further indiscretions that might lead to him contravening his ban, will result in an extension of his punishment.

Losing control

A collective sigh of relief could be sensed at the head-quarters of the Pakistan Cricket Board, with Chairman Ijaz Butt escaping to face the wrath.

But it leaves everyone associated with Pakistan Cricket in a precarious position, with the main question being asked – how was a situation like this allowed to happen and what does the future hold with the current administration?

Earlier this year, PCB Chairman Ijaz Butt boasted that ‘player-power’ had been eradicated from the National team, but what is evident that in him doing so; he has created a vacuum where conversation and interaction between management and players is now at an all time low – if any at all and the gulf between the two, within the confines of the establishment has never been greater.

The lack of a players’ union has left the players without a voice and any sort of support system, which ultimately resulted in Amir – a player desperate for any opportunity to play Cricket – going AWOL and finding himself caught up in another storm in England.

It appears nothing has been done by the ICC or PCB to further the development and re-education of Amir.

The aftermath from the spot-fixing scandal should have been an opportunity for the PCB to introduce protocols and having a programme in place, in order to aid the rehabilitation process, making sure a situation like would never arise again.

But he appears to have been left on his own devices, without anyone looking out for him. Was Amir given permission to leave for England? Were the PCB aware of his movements? These are questions that need to be asked.

Controversial figure

Back in Pakistan, a dark cloud hangs above the lone figure of Ijaz Butt.

Whilst the personal duel with ex-skipper Shahid Afridi dominated the media, earlier this year – the more serious and damaging repercussions of an extended ban for Amir – still currently awaiting trial at a London Crown Court on cheating and corruption charges, along with Salman Butt and Mohammed Asif – could’ve been the last straw for an already frustrated Pakistani faithful.

The controversial figure heading Pakistan Cricket has been the centre of some very unpopular spats with players, staff, committee members and colleagues.

The latest being the resignation of coach Waqar Younis. Younis cited health reasons for his decision, but the finger is firmly being pointed at Butt.

Ex-captain, Wasim Akram, who formed a formidable pace attack with Younis, during the 90’s, also came to the opinion that his former team mate was pushed, rather than jumped.

“I know Waqar very well. He is a fighter. He does not give up easily. I am sure there is a big issue, otherwise he would not have thrown in the towel,” Akram said.

Wasim continued to express his displeasure at the current set-up and believes drastic action needs to be taken.

  Waqar Younis stepped down as coach after citing medical reasons [GALLO/GETTY] 

“Something is wrong within the Board,” he said. 

“Nobody stays there for long. Either people are sacked or they move out of their own accord.”

Butt’s tenure, which began in 2008, has been a rollercoaster ride with many peaks and troughs.

Despite winning the T20 World Cup and reaching the semi-finals on the 50-over game, his reign has been marred by his erratic man-management skills and for adopting a ‘chop and change’ policy. 

Numerous changes have been made to the selection committee with Abdul Qadir and Iqbal Qasim both resigning as chief selectors, only to be replaced by Mohsin Khan.

Coaches Geoff Lawson and Intikhab Alam, were also shown the door, taking the tally to three altogether.

There has also been a merry go round of captains with Shoaib Malik, Younis Khan, Mohammad Yousuf, Salman Butt, Shahid Afridi and Misbah-ul-Ha, all holding the captaincy reigns at different times in the last three years.

These changes have reflected in Pakistan’s inconsistent performances.

Stability is the key for any successful team and many have the opinion that that cannot be possible with Butt at the helm.

Up for re-election in October, close friend President Asif Zardari will surely have him ear-marked for another term in charge. 

* Asam Shah is a Digital Journalist, based in the UK. You can contact him on or follow him on Twitter @AsamPlusONE.

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Source: Al Jazeera