LAHORE - Ijaz Butt has finally left, hopefully for good. Monday he handed over the charge to Zaka Ashraf, the new chairman, around three weeks late since. A new chairman always brings hope and optimism – that things would change for the better. Never has in Pakistan cricket the craving for a doze of positive turnaround been as great as today.
Politically speaking, we’re on the wrong side of almost everybody who is anybody in international cricket. And to top it, Pakistan is in cricketing isolation – thanks to the Punjab Police’s criminal negligence that allowed brazen attack on Sri Lanka, no nation wants to have this country as its destination, even for a brief period.
The good thing for Zaka Ashraf is that from here things can only get better. And with the slightest modicum of effort and transparency, Zaka Ashraf should indeed do well. Since his arrival Pakistan has won a Test match and also the Super Sixes event. This is a good omen. Some people are lucky too and their luck rubs off on whatever job they are entrusted to. Maybe the new chairman would bring that element of luck that has for so long deserted our cricket.
There has been some criticism of Zaka – particularly on the mode of his appointment. Be that as it may, he has been made the chairman according to the prevalent procedure, and it would be good if he ushers in the democratic era under his watch. This in any case is mandatory, because the ICC deadline has to be followed. It is sometime away, June 2013 to be exact, but work towards meeting that deadline should commence now.
And despite so many speculations, Zaka Ashraf has so far made the right kind of noises in his various interactions with the press. “Over the last two years, Pakistan’s image has been tarnished because of the unethical spot-fixing practices… There would not be any immediate changes in the board or national team management…
“I would continue to enforce the positive and productive policies of my predecessor, but change and rectify the failed or wrong policies… will only try to change those policies that didn’t benefit either the team or the PCB.
“But my first and foremost priority would be to bring international cricket back to Pakistan and showcase Pakistan as a peace-loving country”, was the nutshell of his pronouncements so far.
From afar he seems to be someone who wouldn’t want to court controversy and change with undue haste. This sounds good.
One hopes, for the sake of Pakistan cricket, that he would stick by his words, and let the systems in the Board function, strengthening these as he goes along.
Let one make this point: Pakistan’s cricketing bureaucracy in the Board has been not that inefficient or wanting in performance whenever it was allowed to function. The system has some people whose credentials are acknowledged here and abroad. A chairman should benefit from these internal strengths by providing them leeway and recognition, take advantage of their experience, clear the dead wood, of course, but otherwise delegate – instead of doing everything by his lights.
One is sure Zaka Ashraf would do all this and more. If he does, Pakistan cricket would be well served and PCB would again become a vibrant and respected entity.