DateLine: 29th January 2009
Former Pakistan captain Imran Khan on Wednesday urged President Asif Ali Zardari to reform the national game of cricket, which he said was in as much mess as the country.
"If Zardari really wants to help Pakistan cricket then he must allow it to be an institution. It should be constitution-based and have an elected chairman with elected representatives," Khan told AFP.
Pakistan's cricketing woes saw Shoaib Malik replaced as captain by Younus Khan following the team's humiliating 234-run loss -- their worst one-day defeat -- handing visitors Sri Lanka a 2-1 series win last week.
It was the third major reshuffle in as many months. In October, Zadari appointed Ijaz Butt chairman of the cricket board, after Nasim Ashraf resigned. Butt then sacked Australian coach Geoff Lawson for poor team performance.
"Our cricket is as much in the mess as the country," said Khan.
Further chaos followed later on Wednesday when batting legend Javed Miandad quit his post as Pakistan Cricket Board director general following disagreements within the crisis-hit governing body of the national sport.
"The PCB wanted to restrict me to domestic affairs and I don't want any interference in my work. I have therefore resigned," Miandad told AFP.
PCB chairman Ijaz Butt refused to comment on Miandad's decision until talking to him or returning from Perth, Australia where he is due to attend an International Cricket Council's Executive Board meeting.
Khan, who led Pakistan to their only World Cup triumph, in Australia in 1992, and is now in politics, said the country's head of state appointing the cricket board chairman was the bane of Pakistan cricket.
"No way should the president of the country appoint the cricket chief," said Khan. The president of Pakistan is patron of the cricket board and appoints its chairman, unlike in most countries where the chairman is elected.
Khan said in a country obsessed with the game, cricket needed to be organised properly.
"Why can't Pakistan cricket be based on successful models like Australia, South Africa and New Zealand, where the talent is concentrated in six regional teams set up by nurseries below?" said Khan, who played 88 Tests for Pakistan.
Khan, who retired from cricket in 1992, now heads his own political party -- Movement for Justice (Tehrik-e-Insaaf) -- and has never held a post on the cricket board.
Khan ridiculed a proposal from Zardari, who suggested holding a round-table conference to resolve cricketing matters.
"Cricket is run on an ad hoc basis in the country, so the president is now suggesting a round-table conference without knowing that the previous regime of Nasim Ashraf wasted millions on such conferences to no avail."
Khan said the saddest aspect was that the team was going from bad to worse.
"Ever since the 1992 World Cup win and the 1999 runner-up finish, the performance graph is having a downhill trajectory. In 2003 and 2007, we were ousted in the first rounds," he said.
Khan, regarded as one of the top four all-rounders of his time, said the country's entire cricket structure needed an overhaul.
"Our domestic cricket is incapable of polishing a talented youngster, so it needs an overhaul and we should do it quickly otherwise time will run out."
(Article: Copyright © 2009 AFP)