There are three things that Pakistanis are very passionate about: politics, cricket, and religion! Every one of these things overlaps, and more often than not, undermines at least one of the other two. Politics of religion, religious cricket teams, political khutbas every Friday, etc.
But this blog is about the sad convergence of cricket and politics. The sport we all love, and the politicians we all love to hate, have very conveniently come together in the form of the subject of this blog: Ijaz Butt!
Mr Butt has done many things of note, very few of them noble or progressive, since he took over the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) about three or so years ago.
A spat with Javed Miandad, no saint himself, but a worthy cricketer and a better administrator than Butt for sure, started off Mr Butt's tenure. Sure these things had happened before in the PCB, but this dispute went all the way to the Senate, albeit, perhaps expectedly, without a concrete resolution from there.
The attack on the Sri Lankan national team was a disgrace, and not entirely the Board's fault (the security forces should be blamed equally), but Butt's remarks about exaggeration from Chris Broad were uncalled for. Chris Broad had just escaped an attack on his life, and an apology from the Board would have been nicer than the accusations of embellishment.
In light of the aforementioned attack, Pakistan was stripped of its World Cup hosting rights, which was not entirely unexpected. What was unexpected though, was Mr Butt threatening to sue the ICC! When a historically cricket-friendly country like Sri Lanka refuses to tour, who else would you expect to come? And what court of law would side with you??? What were you smoking, Mr Butt? People might argue about the financial compensations promised to the Board for hosting the event. If we were so worried about that, we should have better protected the Sri Lankan national team.
England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) saw an opportunity and invited Pakistan to host their home games in England, perhaps banking on the significant Pakistani diaspora there. A welcome change for Pakistan, and the cricket-crazy Pakistanis! But another Butt (Salman), and two Muhammads (Asif and Aamer) decided that since Pakistan was not playing much cricket anyways, they should bank as much as they could from that short series. Embarrassed, and as is often the case, disillussioned, Mr Butt (Ijaz) launched an offensive against the English team, accusing them of the same crimes. Proof? He didn't have it! Mr Butt does not bother himself with such trivial stuff!!!
Curbing player power? That was Mr Butt's argument in handing out the bans and fines on players. If he had in fact curbed their power, the fines and bans should have been in place now! But unfortunately, or fortunately perhaps, they are not.
Nine captains in three years! Disappointing to say the least. Silver lining: I look at it as every Pakistani having leadership qualities!
The latest saga that Mr Butt has been involved in has involved Shahid Afridi, the latest in the long line of sacked captains. He might not have been the best player in the team, but he was more than an able captain. A World Cup semifinal loss to the eventual champions, very nearly the bowler of the tournament, two away series wins; not exactly shabby. But he had his issues. Too many outspoken outbursts to the media was the major one. His sacking is not very unusual and might just have been just, but suspending his contract, and revoking the no-objection certificate (NOC) borders on the cruel. A prejudicial decision, but I guess that is how things get done in the great country of ours.
To all those who are blaming Afridi: what would you have done had you been in his shoes? What the PCB has done is cut off all his sources of income. The contract, which pays him well, has been suspended, which means no money coming from there. The NOC has been revoked, so no chance of plying his trade anywhere else. An athlete only has so many suns to make hay, unlike other professionals... so even a year on the out hurts!
And here is where politics will play a huge part in the tussle between the Pathan and the Butt. Mr Butt is a presidential appointee, but Afridi has approached politicians to push for his case as well. The judicial system will carry out its processes, and a resolution, hopefully, will be reached. Failure to grant Afridi the NOC should be compensated by the PCB, even if his contract is not reinstated.
Mr Butt has a chance to redeem himself, which he will waste, because he has gone senile, has anger-management issues, and is an egotistical maniac. The Pakistani cricket team will go through another mini-turmoil, and get back to its pre-Ijaz Butt mercurial glory. We will live to see another dawn, another drama, another Don, and another moron.
The question remains: who is the guy who trumped Mr Butt, and is THE biggest moron in Pakistan?