Pakistan cricket has been through crisis before, having witnessed some of its worst turbulence in the last decade and a half. But none quite equals the present one in terms of despair, for the opprobrium of the world body is ringing and unmistakable.
Terms of the diktat are humiliating, and the consequence of not abiding indeed with them is harrowing indeed as sanctions stare us in the face.
What the ICCs entire Board has told us with one voice which means that all its nine directors voted against us is to swallow the bitter pill of international inspection, to tread on the prescribed path and implement each demand through its hand-picked Pakistan Task Force.
Ironically, this Task Force includes one Peter Chingoka, from Zimbabwe incidentally the second- last full member to join international community and whose Test status is suspended for quite some time now.
This alone is an eloquent comment on the standards of our governance that the lowest of the low have been appointed to guide our destiny.
In essence, what the ICC has shoved down Ijaz Butts throat is: You do as you are told, for you are so dense that you cannot even begin to comprehend what is good for you. And the Big Brother is keeping a close watch a single misstep, one little deviation and youre out. Period.
Can it get more terse or damning than this?
Two questions need to be asked: where did the PCB go wrong and how to rectify the situation?
Well, with Ijaz Butt ruling the roost with such wild abandon, and with diplomacy and tact so obviously not being his forte, he had been rubbing everybody who is anybody in world cricket the wrong way for the last two years and a bit. And it was Pakistan cricket that has been made to pay for his rude and brusque ways.
When Butt walked into the Gaddafi Stadium to occupy the swank chairmans office, the international milieu was by no means normal. The security situation had already had an adverse impact for no cricket board was willing to send its boys over to Pakistan.
This required delicate and careful handling again areas where Butt, whose only claim to fame other than his eight-Test career in the late 1950s was marriage into a prominent business house seriously lacked.
Assured of presidential level security, Sri Lanka obliged us with a visit. Instead of turning it into a window of opportunity, the PCB faltered badly. Despite dire and repeated warnings from the ICC match referee Chris Broad, the level of security remained lax and the attack on the Lankan cricketers happened.
This took its toll, and in spades. Pakistans right to co-host the World Cup 2011 along with other three South Asian nations was taken away, with Butts attempt to blackmail the ICC through a lawsuit only yielding some financial reward but earning Pakistan more bad name.
From then onwards it has been a freefall, with the latest straw on the proverbial camels back being the spot-fixing scandal.
Butt again failed big time, and his inertia and tolerance for our errant band of cricketers resulted in the ICC springing into action. And this time round the ICC was in no mood to humour Butt. After all, it was the worst scandal to break since Hansie Cronje disgraced himself about a decade ago.
With the ICC now in an implacable, no-tolerance groove, how do we get out of this mire?
Change is imperative. But just a change for the sake of change, one slob replaced with another, would not do. If anything, it would indeed bring more scorn, more ignominy. The change has to be meaningful, for the process of rehabilitation and reconstruction at home has to be achieved in short order, for without it perceptions abroad are not going to change.
And more importantly, Pakistan cricket would remain much like the country itself an example of tremendous but sadly unrealised potential.
But the change can only come if Monsieur Le Patron of the PCB concurs, and he happens to be the president of the country. If the rumours that another of his cronies from Karachi is likely to get his shot at the swing come to pass, Pakistan cricket would further slide down the abyss, perhaps beyond redemption.
This raises another set of questions. What, after all, is the dire need for a patron-in-chief of the PCB? Cannot Pakistan cricket survive without this all-knowing, all-seeing personality? Why, like everywhere else in the world, cant the officials of the Board be elected? We all know what connotations the term patronage has, especially in our neck of the woods. Spoils of war! Fat packages to the unworthy. Free all- expenses- paid vacations. Following in the trail of the national team overseas, shopping expeditions
However, this latest debacle can carry a silver lining if the infernal powers of the Patron-in-Chief to appoint his favourites or his favourites favourite, are overthrown by providing an obligatory election set-up for the PCB. Will the ICC do it for us, too?
The writer is Sports and Magazines Editor, Pakistan Today.