The motive behind the ‘stunning move (to ban Pak cricketers) are not all that noble', writes Khalid Husain in The News, Islamabad.
Firstly, he writes, it seems that the PCB kingpins are out to save themselves by shifting the entire blame for Pakistan's catastrophic tour of Australia on the national players. The Board was under extreme pressure from all quarters because of a series of controversies in the recent past and needed to take some concrete action to silence its critics. It decided to go after the players — a pretty soft target these days, especially after the debacle Down Under.
In some ways, it seems to have worked, the report says. Jamshed Dasti, the chief of National Assembly's Standing Committee on Sports and PCB's staunchest critics, was quick to hail the move. Some of the former greats like Abdul Qadir and Sarfraz Nawaz, who've been assailing the Board for almost every step it has taken in the past, also backed the decision.
It's quite absurd actually. If things were so bad in the national team for so many months that you were forced to kick several big names out of it then what was the Board and the management it had hired to run the team was doing all that time, questions Khalid Husain.
If Shoaib Malik and Rana Naved-ul-Hasan made so much trouble in Australia that the PCB had to ban them for a year, then what stopped it from calling them back home when the tour was still in progress, asks the circket correspondent. Why didn't the team management take action against them and the other culprits then and there when it had the mandate to so?
The Board, however, doesn't think that its own officials or the team management was responsible for any of the problems. That can be proved from the fact that it has appointed Intikhab Alam, Pakistan's coach on the tour of Australia, as director of the National Cricket Academy. The PCB has also elevated Waqar Younis, Pakistan's bowling and fielding consultant during the tour, as the team's head coach.
In some cases, the decision to punish the players also smacks of personal vendetta.
If not then how could anybody explain the harsh action taken against Younis Khan, the enigmatic former captain who missed more than 80 percent of the tour Down Under and only featured in the one-day series.
The presence of Yawar Saeed, who was removed as Pakistan manager after last year's Champions Trophy on the insistence of Younis, the PCB probe panel seems to be the reason why the seasoned batsman finds himself on the receiving end of the Board's culling operation.
Yawar, who has returned as national team manager after the tour of Australia, had a bitter tussle with Younis as he is the one who backed a player rebellion against the former skipper last year.
It hardly came as a surprise when Abdul Raqeeb, Pakistan's manager on the twin tour of New Zealand and Australia, announced on Wednesday that he suspects that Younis was targeted to settle personal scores.
The fact that the PCB probe panel has somehow managed to find fault with the players but was unable to see anything wrong with the team management was almost entirely made up of people employed by the Board or are linked to it in some other way makes Wednesday's announcements hard to digest.
The panel was led by Wasim Bari, the Board's chief operating officer and includes PCB Governing Board member Wazir Ali Khoja, director of cricket operations Zakir Khan, PCB lawyer Taffazul Rizvi and Yawar Saeed. Wasim Akram, the former Pakistan captain and the only ‘outsider' selected on the committee never attended any of its meetings.
Committee members like Bari and Zakir are themselves yet to come clean on the biggest tragedy in the history of Pakistan cricket — the attack on Sri Lankan cricketers in Lahore last March. Bari and Zakir were both responsible for ensuring that the visitors received fool-proof security but failed to do that and can directly be blamed for the fact that Pakistan have now been reduced to being the pariah of international cricket.
The Board has also failed to explain the reasons why Malik and Rana have been handed one-year bans as well as hefty fines of Rs2 million each. That's pretty stern action and cannot be taken without proving that the duo actually deserves such punishment.
That is why the Board will have to make public the findings of its inquiry committee. There is no justification in keeping it a secret. Perhaps the Board management is acting in its own interest by keeping it under the wraps. It shouldn't be allowed to do that. They have nothing to hide but their own failures.