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Monday, June 27, 2011

Pakistan cricket team needs professional not self-centered manager

Last week wicketkeeper Zulqarnain Haider was let off with a small fine of Rs500,000 for violating the player’s code of conduct. Haider flew to London last year without informing the team management over alleged death threats during the Pakistan team’s series against South Africa in the United Arab Emirates. Critics have lambasted the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) for ‘sparing’ the cricketer who gave a bad name to Pakistan cricket.
Haider fled the team hotel in Dubai last November while playing in a one-day series against South Africa and landed in London. He said he had been threatened by an unknown person who wanted him to cooperate in match-fixing during the series. He returned home in April after getting security assurances from Interior Minister Rehman Malik and was told to appear and face disciplinary proceedings by the PCB.
It is now an open secret that Haider ‘left’ for England to get ‘immigration’ there but had to return after his ‘efforts’ went in vain. Haider, who made his Test debut last year against England at Edgbaston scoring 88 runs, said he had no evidence to support his allegations or match-fixing claims. Haider withdrew all his allegations against the board or fellow players and also admitted he had no evidence to support his claim that a bookmaker had approached him in Dubai to fix matches.
Why manager Intikhab Alam handed over Haider his passport is a million dollar question. Though Intikhab said that the wicketkeeper wanted to get mobile phone SIM, but the manager should have applied his mind before handing over the passport to Haider who later put Pakistan cricket on the back foot. It has been a practice among all the previous managers to keep photocopies of the passports. Whenever players needed their passports, during the middle of a tour, to get SIMs or other facilities, they were given photocopies of their passports.
It would be no exaggeration to say that to some extent Intikhab was responsible for Haider episode. The ‘Haider soap opera’ could have been avoided had Intikhab acted in a sensible way. Intikhab has never been a good manager. His top priority has always been to be part of the cricket establishment and retain his job. His all tour reports about players show that what kind of a manager he is. Sometimes he described them as ‘mentally retarded’ and sometimes as ‘immature’. He has been playing with players’ careers for the last many years. But no inquiry has been launched against him. Pakistan is a strange country where retired people are given high profile jobs without keeping their age and mental capabilities in view.
Like Afridi, Haider acknowledged that he had erred. Haider had said he had accepted his misconduct before the disciplinary committee and would try not to ‘repeat the mistakes in future.’ “I did what I thought was right at that time,” he had said of his decision to leave the team on the day when Pakistan were due to play their fifth and final ODI against South Africa. “With the passage of time I realized that I committed a mistake. I should have informed the PCB, I should have informed my seniors.”
The disciplinary problems being faced by Pakistan cricket are not only due to PCB chairman Ijaz Butt, who has become a blot on the game, but also weak and incompetent managers like Intikhab. Pakistan cricket needs a strong and professional manager and not a stooge or self-centered person who is always dancing to the tunes of the 78 years old PCB chairman.
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