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Saturday, October 8, 2011

Ijaz Butt still rules PCB as three-year term expires

Ijaz Butt, PCB, Pakistan

The million dollar question in Pakistan cricket regarding the replacement or extension of the incumbent PCB chief Ijaz Butt remained unanswered on Friday — despite the expiry of his three-year term in office — since there was no word from the secretariat of the Board’s Patron, President Asif Ali Zardari, regarding the chairman’s fate.

“Constitutionally, Ijaz is no more the PCB chairman after midnight on Friday and he cannot sign any documents since his tenure expires on Oct 7,” former PCB legal adviser Shan Gul told Dawn.

When contacted, PCB spokesman Nadeem Sarwar confirmed to Dawn that till the closure of the office on Friday, he had no information whether Ijaz Butt’s tenure had been extended or not.

He, however, shied away from answering various constitutional questions relating to the situation.

Former legal adviser Shan added that technically, the PCB chairman’s tenure was over and a new order of extension from the patron was necessary after Friday to allow Ijaz Butt to continue his work.

Meanwhile, the PCB constitution is silent on who will act as acting PCB chairman from Saturday. Though the constitution says that whenever the chairman is out of Pakistan, he could appoint any official to exercise his powers during his absence. But as this is not the case of absence for Ijaz, the constitution is not saying anything clearly in this regard.

Previously, a similar situation also arose when former PCB chairman Dr Nasim Ashraf quit the office soon after the then president Pervez Musharraf resigned from his post in August 2008. A makeshift arrangement was made at the time which saw then chief operating officer Shafqat Naghmi taking over as acting chairman till Ijaz Butt assumed powers as the new PCB chief on Oct 8, 2008.

The three-year tenure of Ijaz Butt has been a roller-coaster ride for Pakistan cricket, replete with nasty controversies such as the harrowing terrorist attack on the touring Sri Lankans and the infamous spot-fixing scandal besides frequent changes in the captaincy which saw some half-a-dozen skippers taking turns to lead the national team.

Also, while many of the Pakistan’s front-ranking players such as Younis Khan, Shahid Afridi, Shoaib Malik, Kamran Akmal and others were penalised with heavy fines for their indisciplinary acts and poor display on tours, they were soon restored with all ‘serious’ charges getting dropped against them which, indeed, made a mockery of the game in the country.

On the field, while Pakistan scaled a rare high by winning the World T20 in England besides reaching the semi-final of the 2011 World Cup in India, their rankings in both Tests and the ODIs continued to slip due to their ordinary show with both bat and ball — not to forget the fielding — and also because of the number of nasty rows which directly affected the performance of the players.

Ijaz also faced heavy criticism for repeatedly making changes in the team’s captaincy, coaches and team management as well as in the PCB set-up which saw more than one chief operating officers, chief selectors and other officials working for the Board in the three-year period.

Ijaz’s tenure saw captaincy stints from Shoaib Malik, Younis Khan, Shahid Afridi, Mohammad Yousuf, Salman Butt and now Misbah-ul-Haq while among the coaches, former Australian fast bowler Geoff Lawson, Intikhab Alam, Waqar Younis and Mohsin Khan got their turns as chief coaches of the sides.

The burly chairman also tried Saleem Altaf, Wasim Bari and Subhan Ahmad as chief operating officers during the various periods of his tenure besides appointing former googly bowler Abdul Qadir, leg-spinner Iqbal Qasim, Mohsin Khan and now Mohammad Ilyas as chief selectors on different occasions.

Ijaz received a stern warning for such chop-and-change policy from the the ICC Task Team which warned the chairman to put the PCB affairs in order for the sake of the game’s future in the country.

Ijaz himself often boasted of how he had curbed the player-power in the team. “I have eliminated the player-power and that is my great success,” Ijaz had said in an interview to Dawn some four months back.

However, even that was not an entirely correct assessment of things from the former wicketkeeper-batsman since the team-wranglings and groupings continued to harm Pakistan cricket on tours.

During his tenure, the PCB relationship with ICC also remained disturbed, especially after the game’s governing body removed Pakistan as one of the co-hosts of the World Cup-2011 soon after Sri Lankan cricket team attack in Lahore.

Ijaz, however, fought against the ICC decision of removing Pakistan as hosts and even served a legal notice on the governing body, but later on both the organizations settled the issue amicably.

Ijaz served as the chairman of the Asian Cricket Council (ACC) for two years but could not play an active role in the body, mainly because BCCI did not extend due cooperation to him.

The bilateral series between Pakistan and India also could not be restored during this tenure.

Though Ijaz had succeeded in reducing the expenditure of the PCB by taking various steps and no major financial corruption case surfaced, his decision of constructing a stadium in Garhi Khuda Bakhsh, a small town, with a huge allocation of funds of Rs250 million raised many an eye-brow since many believed the stadium is only being built to serve the political purposes of the leading political party.

The construction work on the Pindi Stadium as well as the Gaddafi Stadium could not be completed despite huge expenses.

Moreover, the bio-mechanics laboratory which was imported by Dr Nasim Ashraf could not become functional at all.

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