While the purveyors of death, were training their guns on the besieged bus ferrying the Lankan cricketers, pumping the air full of lead and spilling bucketfuls of human blood; it was Pakistan cricket which fell prey to this lethal assassination bid.
It has been all downhill for us for the past four years, from the vertigo inducing heights of an all out conquering of England at home in late 2005, we have done little except sliding down the drain. Such abysmal has been our performance and so wretched our lot, that just when a tormented and tortured nation consoles itself by thinking that the worst is over, our straw packed heroes manage to lower us by another notch.
If one were to revisit the news archives of the past 15 years, our hearts would be gladdened to see our name featuring more times than of any other side but the euphoria will vanish as quickly as it rose, because we have been notorious not famous! We haven’t won anything on the field and have lost everything off it.
Match fixing scandals, internal strifes, doping issues, players attacking fellow mates with bats, coaches being passed around like a hat – one breathed his last under dubious cirumstances – managers being juggled around as if they were a plaything and a host of players competing fiercely in a merry go round contest to decide the issue of captaincy. Players being booked for criminal offences ranging from drug addiction to sexual assaults, a few of them being hauled up, thrown into a cell after due thrashing.
So acute has been the misery of this befuddled, exasperated and hapless cricketing mad nation, that more often than not they have found their hearts being pierced and crushed in a pincer of atrocious on field display and shameful off field antics on part of its cosseted and mollycoddled stars.
When the dysfunctional rabble of a cricketing outfit-Pakistan-were dumped out of the WC- that too by Ireland of all sides-the furious and agitated fans, after a brief outrage, had lulled themselves into the belief, that our cricket has hit rock bottom, and from the bottom of this pit of humiliation, there is no way out for us except traversing upwards.
The usual culling spree, jettisoning of the excess baggage, installation of a young mind and heart in the saddle of leadership, hiring of another foreigner as a coach, a convincing victory over the lankans and a sprightly T20 campaign later, we find ourselves back to the square one. As if we have traveled a full circle and after much effort, drama and suspense, we have achieved little except reaching the same point from which we had earlier set off. A point now dyed in the red of blood and clothed with tattered flesh of our slain security personneland buried somewhere in the fathomless deep pit of humiliation and misery.
For a side, which remained a darling for the fans around the world for their exquisite skill in the field and the uncanny bouncebackability, the typical volatility, and a definitive chuzpah which characertised most of their legendary feats, spanning over several destinations and many decades, we now are regarded by everyone – players and fans alike – as a spent force.
Where do we actually stand now? What has gone wrong for us to deserve such an elegiac and funereal discourse?
The answer is, we have gone nowhere, we have lost out footing, our standing in the comity of cricketing nations, and are going nowhere. What has gone wrong? Everything. What has gone right? Nothing. What was our past? Glorious. Present? Abysmal. Future? Forget it.
How did it all happen?
It happens, when a lamb is saddled with the responsibility of leading a herd of, if not exactly tigers, carnivores at least. Its the qualities and attributes of the leader which define the collective character and approach of the side, being led by him. As a fish stinks from its head, if a side gets caught in an eddy of infamy and disaster, its usually the fecklessness of their leader, which puts them into trouble. Our tragedy is, that a multitude has been made to defray the costs arising out of the stupidities of a few. A whole nation is paying the price for the follies of a select clique of self appointed saviours. A whole cricketing fraternity is being asked to cleanse the augean stables, defiled beyond imagination by a few humbugs. Those self appointed angels, self declared saviours, and self accredited savants have destroyed our cricket to such a degree that it would require gigantic efforts and persistent prayers on part of the nation to revive the sagging the health of this ill fated and nearly doomed patient.
Pakistan Cricket, being governed by a inert and effete body, packed with humbugs of all sorts, has been quite assiduous in making sure that incompetence and fecklessness becomes synonymous with its cricket team. Undeserving executives, owing their jobs to an equally atrocious benefactor, applying the same policy of cronyism and sycophancy at every level of their responsibility have brought things to such a pass. A wheedling and witless CEO would require unstinting and blind support of his kitchen cabinet,to stay afloat. Moving downwards, this compulsion of his would translate into a full fledged policy and guiding principle of operation for his organisation, and merit will continue to be sacrificed at the altar of blackmail and connivance. Once merit goes out of the window, its life which streams out of the body of an organisation and all is left behind is a carcass, which if not imparted a frantic kiss of life, becomes cold and stiff and begins to stink. Pakistan cricket is a dead body, or so it has looked for the past couple of years. All that and yet we have conjured up a few unparalleled feats in this darkest hour of our history. We have done quite a few “one of a kind” acts, salient ones being:
We are the only cricketing nation in the world, with a test match forfeiture to our credit. A record which every other side in the world, minnows or biggies alike, would give anything not to emulate.
We are the only cricketing nation in the world, with a proven and brazen match thrower, leading our side for a good couple of years.
We are the only cricketing nation in the world, which doles out money generously to an obscure and unknown entity-in terms of coaching- with little or no competence or pedigree.
We are the only cricketing nation in the world, whose side is riddled with several wannabe skippers, but none is forthcoming when it comes to a pinch. We nearly blazed a dubious trail by going into a test match without being formally led by a player, as the incumbent was nursing an injury while the rest were more than content playing the truant. We should thank our lucky stars for not being made to put up with another unwanted record.
We are the only cricketing nation in the world, who cossets and mollycoddles those, who reserve all their energies and abilities for minnows and get swept over by a frisson of excellence, when all is already lost. They fail against the best, fluff up against the better ones, while ground the minnows into dust, that too not always(remember the WC nightmare against Ireland).
We are the only nation in the world, with an extensive and widely participated domestic circuit, in which thousands of players lock horns with each other, in a well laid out and elaborately tiered framework of competitions encompassing all forms of the game. Yet, what do these players get out of sweating and fretting out in the middle, all year long, and topping the charts in the process? Nothing, except frustration and agony at seeing less accomplished competitors of theirs being catapulted into the national side, at their expense.
We are the only cricketing nation in the world, which despite having an army of security personnel at its disposal, cannot mobilize enough of them in time, to provide fool-proof security to our visitors.
All these “only nation in the world” accomplishments and salient qualities, and yet we wonder why we find ourselves into such a morass?