cricket venues to be ready next year: Nadeem Akram
Akhtar lives up to his past reputation
Pakistan finally take an Olympic Games medal while Khaliq burns the track
The nimbleness and clever and deft stick work shown by the Pakistani forwards surprised even their opponents. Some of the Pakistani players showed that they had come very close to equalling the uncanny ball control which was an integral part of all top Indian players
By Gul Hameed Bhatti
Pakistan finally put itself on the map of the sporting world, as its hockey team went into the final of the 1956 Olympic Games in Melbourne and, although it had to be content with only with the silver medal at the end, India claimed its sixth consecutive Olympics gold medal by the difference of just one goal in a 1-0 result.
Melbourne was a big Olympiad appearance for Pakistan, who had been an independent nation only for some nine years at the time. They had lost almost no time in registering their presence at the highest level of sporting competition when, before their first anniversary as a new country, they participated in the London Olympic Games in 1948.
In that inaugural year, as well as their second Olympics at Helsinki in 1952, they however didn't pick up any medals. At Melbourne in 1956, they claimed their first medal of any kind -- a silver -- and one of their athletes, the sprinter Abdul Khaliq, could have returned home with at least two medals of his own. Eventually, it was only the proud hockey team who came back to Pakistan with silver medals in their baggage.
The late withdrawal of Holland from the 1956 Games reduced the number of teams participating in the hockey tournament to twelve. This withdrawal came as a great disappointment.
With the number of competing teams reduced, the draw had to be recast. The new draw provided for three preliminary groups, each consisting of four teams.
In the first, India seeded No. 1, was grouped with Singapore (10), Afghanistan (11) and USA (12). In the second, Great Britain and Northern Ireland, ranked No. 2, was grouped with Australia (7), Malaya (8) and Kenya (9). The third group consisted of Pakistan (3), Germany (4), Belgium (5) and New Zealand (6).
India was untroubled in winning the first group, and in doing so disposed of Afghanistan 14 goals to nil, USA 16-0 and Singapore 6-0.
The tussle for top honours in the second group, however, was much closer. Great Britain and Northern Ireland, which finally won the right to play in the semifinals, had a difficult passage indeed. Both Malaya (now Malaysia) and Kenya held the British to very even drawn games.
It then became necessary for Great Britain and Northern Ireland to overcome Australia to enter the finals, Australia previously having accounted for both Malaya and Kenya.
Great Britain and Northern Ireland, in an exciting tense game, managed to defeat Australia by a narrow margin. With both nations level on points a replay was ordered by officials. This took place on the following day and a win resulted for Great Britain and Northern Ireland 1-0, thus enabling them to participate in the semifinals.
Pakistan and Germany qualified for the semifinals from the third group. Pakistan did so by defeating Belgium 2-0, New Zealand 5-1 and by drawing with Germany.
Germany very nearly lost her chance in the first game. New Zealand ran away to a 3-0 lead at half-time and the game seemed over. However, the Germans played phenomenal hockey to recover and eventually won the struggle 5-4. Two scoreless draws against Belgium and Pakistan were sufficient to carry the Germans into the semifinals.
The first semifinal game between India and Germany did not at any stage produce great hockey. This was because the Germans, with a heavily packed and well drilled defence, never allowed the Indian forwards room to manoeuvre.
Tried as they might, the clever Indians who in the three previous games had scored 36 goals, could not penetrate the wall of German players until late in the second half, when a great effort produced the winning and only goal of the match.
The nimbleness and clever and deft stick work shown by the Pakistani forwards surprised even their opponents. Some of the Pakistani players showed that they had come very close to equalling the uncanny ball control which was an integral part of all top Indian players.
In the second semifinal, the most brilliant hockey seen during the whole of the Games was displayed by Pakistan and Great Britain and Northern Ireland. The warm sunshine and the perfect conditions of the playing field in the Main Stadium enabled the two teams to bring out all the best and finest points of the game.
The British, perhaps inspired by the presence of the Duke of Edinburgh, regained lost touch and fought the match every inch of the way. Pakistan, however, answered every challenge and in a highly exciting finish won the match by the narrowest of margins, 3-2.
No one perhaps was surprised when India won the final, 1 goal to 0 against Pakistan, to gain its sixth successive hockey victory. Entering the final with the spectacular goal average of 36 goals to nil, the Indians were the justifiable favourites. At the same time, few hockey followers had anticipated that Pakistan would be able to press the champions as closely as they did in that final game.
Whether or not Pakistan and other leading hockey nations had reached the stage where they could put an end to India's supremacy remained to be seen. Many experienced judges, however, were firm in their conviction that the disparity between India and her challengers had been greatly reduced.
To European nations, the playing ability of Australia and New Zealand, both participating in their first Olympic hockey tournament, came as a big surprise. Although lacking the finesse and control of India and Pakistan, the trapping ability, speed, fighting spirit and stamina of both these young nations created a lasting impression.
Australia, seeded seventh, raised its status to fifth, whilst New Zealand was able to retain sixth ranking position ahead of Belgium which dropped from fifth to seventh.
In addition to Australia and New Zealand, three nations participated in their first Olympic hockey tournament. They were Malaya, Singapore and Kenya. All three showed enough promise to be worthy competitors at future Olympic Games. From their performances the International Hockey Federation (FIH) was to be in an infinitely better position to arrive at the rankings to be effective at the Olympic Games to be held at Rome in 1960.
The Pakistan hockey team at Melbourne was captained by striker Abdul Hameed 'Hameedi', an Army Major appearing in his third sucessive Olympic Games. Under his leadership, Pakistan were to win gold medals at the Asian Games in Tokyo 1958 and at the Olympiad in Rome in 1960, bringing to an end India's supremacy at the world hockey level.
The rest of the hockey squad comprised: Latif-ur-Rehman (vice-captain), Habib-ur-Rehman, Naseer Bunda, Zafar Ali Khan, Mohammad Amin, Noor Alam, Mutiullah, Qazi Waheed, Zakir Hussain, Akhtar Hussain, Munir Dar, Manzoor Hussain Atif, Aziz Naik, Anwar Ahmed Khan, Chaudhry Ghulam Rasool, Habib Ali Kiddie and Qazi Musarrat Hussain.
Latif, Habib-ur-Rehman, Qazi Waheed, Atif and Habib Kiddie had represented the country at the 1952 Olympiad in Helsinki also.
ABDUL KHALIQ PUTS
THE TRACK ON FIRE
In a big Pakistan contingent of 62 men in eight sports, one up on the last two occasions, there were as many as 19 track and field representatives -- one more than the hockey players. And it was the 23-year-old Pakistan Army sprinter Abdul Khaliq who really stood out.
Unlike the 1952 Olympiad, where the Pakistani sportsmen still hadn't had much top-level international exposure, the 1956 team had been to several competitions in many parts of the world in the previous four years.
At the 1954 Asian Games in Manila, Philippines -- Pakistan's first -- the country's athletes won four gold and four silver medals. Abdul Khaliq was dubbed the 'fastest man in Asia' when he ran the 100 metres race in a new Asian record of 10.6 seconds. Mohammad Sharif Butt (21.9sec in 200 metres), Mirza Khan (54.1sec in 400 metres hurdles) and Mohammad Nawaz (210ft 10-1/8in in javelin throw) also won gold medals and created new Asian records.
Mohammad Aslam (200 metres), Jalal Khan (javelin throw), Pakistan's 4x100 metres relay team and hammer thrower Mohammad Iqbal all won silver medals.
At the 1954 Commonwealth Games in Vancouver, Canada, Iqbal won gold in the hammer throw event while Nawaz and Jalal took silver and bronze, respectively, in the javelin throw. Sharif Butt, however, lost in both his 100 yards dash and 220 yards dash semifinals while Khaliq too reached the 100 yards dash semifinals before bowing out.
But the athletes had worked very hard in different parts of the world since 1952. Most of them were militarymen, so they got to participate in the International Military Athletics Meet in Athens, Greece, in 1955. The first Indo-Pakistan Athletics Meet was held in New Delhi in March 1956, where the highlight was Khaliq's sprint double. He created new Asian records in both the 100 and 200 metres events.
Pakistan athletes then went to Berlin for the Military Championship in 1956 and later took part in several meets in England during the same year. Later, before going to the Olympiad, they also featured in an athletics meet in Teheran on the occasion of the Birthday Celebrations of the Shah of Iran.
Most Pakistan athletes disappointed in Melbourne, including the sprinter Mohammad Sharif Butt, who was featuring in his third consecutive Olympiad. It was first-timer Abdul Khaliq who stole the show, however.
In the 100 metres event, Khaliq was second out of five runners in his first round heat with a time of 10.8 seconds. In the second round heat, he ran in with a time of 10.5 seconds and was again second. In the semifinals, he was pushed to fourth place among six participants and lost the chance for a medal.
Sixty-eight competitors in the 200 metres were divided into twelve heats, one heat being a walkover. Khaliq produced the best first round time of 21.1 seconds. He again ran in the same time in the second round, breasting the tape ahead of the others, and with Michael Agostini (Trinidad) and Andy Stanfield (USA) all with similar time headed the second round.
Khaliq, however, could not produce the same form in the first semifinal and was eliminated.
The strength of the USA trio was shown in the semifinals, and in the final all ran inside 21 seconds. Bobby Morrow, in clocking 20.6 second, broke Jesse Owens's (1936) and Stanfield's (1952) joint record of 20.7 seconds.
Owens was watching from the Press Stand and Stanfield equalled his record in running second. USA with the first three placings, repeated their Helsinki success and Morrow was the first American since Owens to win both the 100 and 200 metres.
SHAHRUKH MAKES TWO
SPORTS IN OLYMPICS
All other athletes apart from Khaliq generally performed poorly at Melbourne. The boxers disappointed too, the cyclists, shooters, swimmers, weightlifters and wrestlers also being no different.
Cyclist Mohammad Naqi Mallick and weightlifter Mohammad Iqbal Butt, like the hockey captain Abdul Hameed, showed their longevity as they were both appearing in their third Olympic Games in a row.
An interesting inclusion among the four-member Pakistan squad was Shahzada Shahrukh. Eight years ago, at London 1948, he had appeared for the national hockey team as their left-half getting to play in six of Pakistan's seven matches! Shahrukh, in fact, was also the team's vice-captain under Ali Iqtidar Shah Dara.
Now, he was appearing at an Olympiad as a cyclist. He didn't do much in 1956, finishing overall at 14th spot in the 1,000 metres scratch race and also lagging behind in the 4,000 pursuit race and the event's road race.
Shahrukh then was the lone Pakistan cyclist at the Commonwealth Games at Cardiff in 1958 and, later the same year, did well at the Asian Games in Tokyo to bring home a silver and a bronze medal.
Melbourne won the right to host the 1956 Summer Olympics, officially known as the Games of the XVI Olympiad, by one vote over Buenos Aires. Australian quarantine laws were too severe to allow the entry of foreign horses, so the equestrian events were held separately in Stockholm in Sweden in June.
The Melbourne Games were the first to be held in the southern hemisphere. Laszlo Papp of Hungary became the first boxer to win three gold medals. American Pat McCormick won both diving events, just as she had in 1952. Two athletes dominated the gymnastics competition.
On the men's side, Ukrainian Viktor Chukarin earned five medals, including three gold, to bring his career total to eleven medals, seven of them gold. Agnes Keleti of Hungary brought her career total to ten medals by winning four gold medals and two silver.
The US basketball team, led by Bill Russell and K C Jones, put on the most dominant performance in Olympic history, scoring more than twice as much as their opponents and winning each of their games by at least 30 points.
US weightlifter Paul Anderson weighed 137.9kg. In weightlifting, ties are broken by awarding the higher place to the athlete with the lower body weight. Incredibly, this worked to Anderson's advantage when he tied for first with Humberto Selvetti of Argentina. Selvetti weighed 143.5kg.
Prior to 1956, the athletes in the Closing Ceremony marched by nation, as they did in the Opening Ceremony. In Melbourne, following a suggestion by a young Australian named John Ian Wing, the athletes entered the stadium together during the Closing Ceremony, as a symbol of global unity.
A TOTAL OF 72 NATIONS
IN SPITE OF WITHDRAWALS
In response to the Suez Crisis, Egypt, Iraq, and Lebanon announced they wouldn't participate in the Olympics. The Soviet Union overran the independent Hungary, leading to the withdrawal of the Netherlands, Spain and Switzerland.
Less than two weeks before the November 22 opening ceremony, the People's Republic of China also pulled out because the Republic of China had been allowed to compete under the name "Formosa".
Although the number of countries participating was almost the same -- 67, compared to 69 in 1952 -- the number of athletes dropped sharply, from 4,925 to 3,342. Another 158 athletes from 29 countries took part in the Stockholm equestrian competition.
Five of these nations didn't appear in Melbourne, thus there were 72 countries in all, taking part in 145 events in 17 sports.
Once the Games were underway, though, they certainly went well. The Aussies were excellent hosts, both friendly and efficient. The Games were known as the "friendly games". They were also well represented in competition.
USSR displaced United States of America from the top of the final medals table, winning a total of 98 including 37 gold, 29 silver and 32 bronze. USA took 74 medals (32-25-17) and hosts Australia were third with a tally of 35 (13-8-14).
Among the top 10 medal-winning nations, the others were Hungary 26 (9-10-7), Italy 25 (8-8-9), Sweden 19 (8-5-6), Germany 26 (6-13-7), Great Britain 24 (6-7-11), Romania 13 (5-3-5) and Japan 19 (4-10-5).
NEXT WEEK: Pakistan at 1960 Olympic Games in Rome
The writer is Group Editor Sports of 'The News'
PAKISTAN AT 1956 OLYMPIC GAMES: ALL RESULTS
100 metres: 1st round heat 3 Abdul Khaliq 10.8sec 2nd out of 5. 1st round heat 10 Ghulam Raziq 11.2sec 6th out of 6. 1st round heat 11 Mohammad Sharif Butt 11.1sec 4th out of 6. 2nd round heat 2 Abdul Khaliq 10.5sec 2nd out of 6. Semifinal 1 Abdul Khaliq 10.6sec 4th out of 6
200 metres: 1st round heat 4 Mohammad Sharif Butt 22.2sec 3rd out of 5. 1st round heat 5 Abdul Khaliq 21.1sec 1st out of 6. 1st round heat 9 Abdul Aziz 22.9sec 5th out of 5. 2nd round heat 1 Abdul Khaliq 21.1sec 1st out of 6. Semifinal 1 Abdul Khaliq 21.5sec 4th out of 6
400 metres: 1st round heat 1 Abdullah Khan 49.0sec 3rd out of 5
800 metres: 1st round heat 4 Abdullah Khan 1:52.6min 5th out of 7. 1st round heat 5 Mahmood Jan 1:59.5min 6th out of 6
1,500 metres: 1st round heat 2 Mahmood Jan 4:15.0min 14th out of 15
Marathon: Mohammad Aslam 2:44.33hrs 22nd out of 33 (another 13 did not finish). Abdul Rashid 2:57.47 30th out of 33
110 metres hurdles: 1st round heat 1 Ghulam Raziq 14.5sec 3rd out of 6. 1st round heat 2 Khawaja Kalim Ghani 16.1sec 6th out of 6. Semifinal 2 Ghulam Raziq 14.6sec 5th out of 6
400 metres hurdles: 1st round heat 2 Khawaja Kalim Ghani 55.1sec 4th out of 5. 1st round heat 3 Mohammad Yaqub 53.1sec 5th out of 6
4x100 metres relay: 1st round heat 1 Pakistan (Abdul Aziz/Mohammad Sharif Butt/Abdul Khaliq/Ghulam Raziq) 41.3sec 3rd out of 5. Semifinal 2 Pakistan 40.8sec 5th out of 6
Long jump: Mohammad Rashid failed to qualify for final. Ramzan Ali failed to qualify for final
Pole vault: Allah Ditta failed to qualify for final
Hop, step and jump: Mohammad Rashid failed to qualify for final. Ramzan Ali failed to qualify for final
Throwing the discus: Mohammad Ayub failed to qualify for final
Throwing the javelin: Mohammad Nawaz 62.55m 14th out of 21. Jalal Khan failed to qualify for final
Throwing the hammer: Mohammad Iqbal 56.97m 11th out of 14
Flyweight (up to 51kg): 1st round Samuel Harris lost to T Spinks (Great Britain & Northern Ireland) on points
Bantamweight (up to 54kg): 1st round bye. 2nd round Rashid Ahmed lost to M Sitri (Italy) on points
Featherweight (up to 57kg): 1st round bye. 2nd round Maurice White lost to T O Falfan (Argentine) TKO
Light Welterweight (up to 68.5kg): 1st round Rehmat Gul lost to F Nenci (Italy) TKO
Welterweight (up to 67kg): 1st round Bait Hussain lost to A Dori (Hungary) on points
Light Middleweight (up to 71kg): 1st round Mohammad Safdar lost to B G Nikolov (Bulgaria) on points
1,000 metres scratch race: 1st round heat 2 Shahzada Shahrukh 3rd out of 3. Repechage heat 1 Shahzada Shahrukh lost to E Godefroid (Belgium)
1,000 metres time trial: Saleem Farooqi 1:20.8min 18th out of 19
4,000 metres pursuit race: Elimination heat 1 Pakistan (Shahzada Shahrukh/Saleem Farooqi/Mohammad Naqi Mallick/Meraj Din) lost to Colombia (O Echeverry Bernal/H Rua Betancourt/R Hoyos Vallejo/H Monsalve Velasquez)
Road race: Pakistan (Shahzada Shahrukh/Saleem Farooqi/Mohammad Naqi Mallick/Meraj Din) all retired
Preliminary round Group C: Pakistan beat Belgium 2-0 (half-time 1-0), beat New Zealand 5-1 (h-t 2-0), drew with Germany 0-0 (h-t 0-0). Pakistan topped Group C 3 played, 2 won, drawn 1, GF 7, GA 1, points 5. Semifinals Pakistan beat Great Britain & Northern Ireland 3-2 (h-t 3-1). Final Pakistan lost to India 1-0 (h-t 0-0). Pakistan won the silver medal
Free pistol (distance 50 metres): M Z Ahmed score 460 31st out of 33
Free rifle (distance 300 metres): Saifi Chaudhry score 267 20th out of 20
Small bore rifle three positions (distance 50 metres): M Z Ahmed score 999 43rd out of 44
Small bore rifle prone (distance 50 metres): M Z Ahmed score 582 44th out of 44
100 metres backstroke: 1st round heat 1 Nazir Ahmed 1:10.7min 6th out of 6
200 metres breaststroke: 1st round heat 3 Ghulam Rasul disqualified
200 metres butterfly stroke: 1st round heat 3 Ghazi Shah 2:48.0min 6th out of 7
Bantamweight (up to 56kg): Habib-ur-Rehman total not calculated 15th out of 16
Featherweight (up to 60kg): Mohammad Bashir total 247.5kg 18th out of 21
Light Heavyweight (up to 82.5kg): Mohammad Iqbal Butt total 337.5kg 10th out of 10
Flyweight (up to 52kg): 1st round Abdul Aziz lost to J K Lee (Korea) by fall, 2nd round beat F Flannery (Australia) on points, 3rd round lost to H Akbas (Turkey) by fall
Bantamweight (up to 57kg): 1st round Zahur Din beat G Jameson (Australia) on points, 2nd round lost to S K Lee (Korea) on points, 3rd round lost to M Chakhov (USSR) by fall
Featherweight (up to 62kg): 1st round Mohammad Nazir lost to S Sasahara (Japan) on points, 2nd round lost to B Sit (Turkey) on points
Lightweight (up to 67kg): 1st round Mohammad Ashraf beat T K Oh (Korea) by fall, 2nd round lost to M Tovar Gonzalez (Mexico) on points, 3rd round beat J Taylor (Great Britain & Northern Ireland) on points, 4th round lost to A Bestaev (USSR) by fall
Welterweight (up to 73kg): 1st round Mohammad Latif lost to A Tischendorf (Germany) on points, 2nd round bye, 3rd round lost to C W de Villiers (South Africa) on points
Middleweight (up to 79kg): 1st round Faiz Mohammad lost to V M Punkari (Finland) by fall, 2nd round lost to J Atli (Turkey) by fall
PAKISTAN WON A SILVER MEDAL
ICL recruits must not be deprived of basic rights
Though it might seem a mismatch still one believes that it's pretty strange to see when there can be talk of releasing an alleged Indian spy, why can't our cricket administrators allow their own players to play domestic cricket in their own country?
By Khurram Mahmood
Last year, an Indian business tycoon, a media group and some former Indian cricketers decide to launch a Twenty20 overs tournament with the name Indian Cricket League (ICL) with a huge prize money of US$ one million for the winning team of the first edition of the league.
The league was started initially with six teams with a plan to expand it to 16 teams in the next three years and also move to 50 overs matches. Former international players like Kapil Dev, Kiran More, Tony Greig and Dean Jones were hired to run the ICL. The tournament was scheduled from November 30, 2007.
To make this event most successful, in July 2007 some leading international cricketers were invited to sign the richest deal to play in the ICL.
Former West Indian captain Brian Lara, New Zealand's Chris Cairns, Shane Bond, Craig McMillan, Daryl Tuffey, Imran Farhat, Abdul Razzaq, Taufiq Umar, Rana Naved-ul-Hasan, Jason Gillespie from Australia, Andrew Hall, Justin Kemp from South Africa and some other cricketers from other countries signed to play in the ICL.
The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) immediately showed its reaction and refused to recognise the ICL. The International Cricket Council (ICC) also backed the BCCI and gave a statement through its Chief Executive Malcolm Speed, that the game's world governing body won't sanction the ICL unless BCCI recognises it.
The other boards from Test playing nations also supported the BCCI decision and imposed bans on their players participating in the rebel league.
To counter the ICL, the BCCI announced its own Twenty20 tournament namely the Indian Premier League (IPL) on the English Football League and USA baseball format from April 18, 2008.
In August last year, the BCCI made it clear that any cricketer who aligned with the rebel body would be banned for life from playing for the national side as well as all domestic tournaments.
But the decision invited worldwide condemnation. Legendary players like Imran Khan and Javed Miandad criticised the PCB decision of banning the players who participated in the ICL.
Tim May, the head of the Federation of International Cricketers Association (FICA) told a newspaper: "It still remains unclear, as to what the real objection to ICL is, apart from it being an unwanted competitor. No governing body has yet satisfactorily explained to a player association why ICL is such a danger to cricket."
In December last year the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) banned those players who appeared in the ICL from playing the national and domestic cricket.
On December 6 last year, the PCB wrote a letter to all the affiliated units, instructing them not to allow (to play) any such players, who are involved with any league cricket, not recognised by the board.
According to Shafiq Ahmed, PCB's domestic cricket general manager, it is a policy decision that players who play in unauthorised leagues cannot be allowed to play in any domestic competition organised by the PCB.
Former Pakistan captain Inzamam-ul-Haq, Shabbir Ahmed, Abdul Razzaq, Imran Farhat, Taufiq Umar, Mohammad Sami, Azhar Mahmood, Mushtaq Ahmed and Saqlain Mushtaq -- all Test players -- appeared in the first edition of the ICL.
But the affected players refused to accept PCB's lifetime ban. Openers Imran and Taufiq said that how they can be stopped from playing domestic cricket, adding it was unfair as cricket is their bread and butter. They also expressed that the ban is a violation of their fundamental rights, specially when they are not PCB-contracted players.
Imran and Taufiq have jointly filed a petition in the Lahore High Court against the PCB over the ban in January on which judgement has not yet been received.
Though it might seem a mismatch still one believes that it's pretty strange to see when there can be talk of releasing an alleged Indian spy, why can't our cricket administrators allow their own players to play domestic cricket in their own country?
The PCB should also realise that their domestic competition missed these players and the spectators also want to see them. The public are also not interested to watch the matches in the grounds specially domestic cricket. If the leading players will not participate in domestic cricket the interest of the crowd will be completely lost.
Earlier this month, the Chief Executive of South African Cricketers Association (SACA) announced that the board is planning to allow those players who played in the unofficial ICL a chance to play domestic cricket.
Justin Kemp, Andrew Hall and Johan van der Wath are the leading players from South Africa who joined the ICL.
These three have won their appeals against an ECB block on them being registered to play in England this summer. The three South Africans had initially been refused registration after competing in the unauthorised ICL.
The appeal was heard at The Oval, was against an "unlawful, unreasonable, capricious and discriminatory" ban. Hall and van der Wath can play immediately for Northamptonshire while Kemp is available for Kent. A fourth player -- Wavell Hinds -- also had his registration turned down in April but has since signed as an overseas player for Derbyshire.
The decision by a three-man tribunal leaves the ECB's policy of falling into line with the wishes of the Indian board in refusing ICL players permission to play domestic cricket in tatters.
With the BCCI is only looking after its own interests, Pakistan should also do what's best for it, by lifting the ban on the ICL players, a move that would create competition in terms of attracting international talent.
Pakistan Cricket Board should also consider lifting the ban from those players who participated in the ICL. Most of the Pakistani players have retired or are not selected for the national team but at least they should allow them to participate in domestic cricket from their respective departments or regions.
Cricket is the only source of income for most of the players and departments hire them just to play cricket and if the ban is not lifted they may be fired from their jobs.
The writer works in the art department at 'The News on Sunday' in Karachi
Summer cricket venues to be ready next year: Nadeem Akram
'As many as 862 schools participated in the PCB Inter-School tournament last season. This event was specially designed to spot and groom young cricketing talent and will be held regularly'
By Ghalib Mehmood Bajwa
Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) has completed all the arrangements for holding the upcoming Asia Cup and the subsequent elite Champions Trophy cricket tournament in a befitting manner, PCB Director Human Resources & Admin Nadeem Akram said this while talking to 'The News on Sunday' (TNS) last week at his office.
Different committees have been constituted for the smooth functioning of all affairs during Asia Cup 2008, he told. Governors of the Punjab and Sindh provinces, DCOs and IG Police have been given key roles in Security and Admin Committees.
Regarding the Asia Cup matches, Nadeem told that keeping in view the extra hot weather, PCB has decided to stage majority of matches in Karachi where the climate is more conducive in summer than other parts of the country. "Lahore's Gaddafi Stadium would hold only three games. All the Asia Cup matches would be day/night," he informed.
When asked about the possibility of the Champions Trophy event, Nadeem said in a confident tone, "PCB has taken enough security and other measures for Champions Trophy and ICC has expressed its satisfaction over these steps," he claimed. Three venues -- Karachi, Lahore and Rawalpindi are scheduled to host all Champions Trophy matches, he told.
Answering a question regarding raising an international cricket venue for the hot summer season, Nadeem told that PCB has already started work on this project so that Pakistan can stage international cricket even in the peak summer season.
"In the first phase of this project, we are upgrading a cricket ground in Abbottabad. A cricket academy equipped with four star housing facility, is also being raised there."
He said that work on this project is expected to commence in the next couple of months. Nadeem expressed his hope that PCB will be able to host international matches at Abbottabad sometime in 2009.
The PCB is also trying to get the rights of Mirpur Stadium which can also be used as an international summer cricket venue along with Abbottabad, he added. "In this regard, negotiations are under way and insha-Allah we will get control of Mirpur Stadium in near future," he further said.
To another question regarding the cricket venues owned by PCB, Nadeem said, "Right now PCB owns seven stadiums -- Gaddafi Stadium, National Stadium Karachi, Pindi Stadium, Bugti Stadium Quetta, Niaz Stadium Hyderabad, Multan Stadium and Abbottabad Stadium. At these grounds, we can make any renovation or expansion work according to our plan or ICC requirements without anybody's interference," he added.
The PCB does not have direct control on some other Test centres like Jinnah Stadium Gujranwala, Sheikupura Stadium and Jinnah Stadium Sialkot etc. "These grounds do come under their respective district governments and that's why we cannot spend money over there independently for any purpose," he further said.
"We are making efforts to take control of the Faisalabad and Peshawar stadiums in the near future. In this regard, negotiations are under way and then the MoUs will be signed by the two parties," he informed.
When asked about the neglected Test centres like Gujranwala, Sialkot, Sheikhupura, Nadeem was of the view that these centres were not neglected actually. "The non-availability of four/five star hotels in these cities was the major reason if these centres are not getting international matches," he explained.
While informing about the under-construction stand at Gaddafi Stadium, Nadeem said, "The new stand will have a Long Room with dining facilities, VIP enclosures from where occupants can enjoy live matches," he disclosed. Moreover the capacity of the new pavilion will be up by 5000. "The new stand will be built with approximately Rs 20 crore and hopefully it will be ready by August 31 this year.
"We are also constructing a new pavilion at Pindi Stadium as per international requirements. There would be 200 media boxes equipped with latest facilities at the Pindi stadium. This project is expected to be completed with a cost of around 14 crore," he said. After completing these projects, we will upgrade National Stadium Karachi next year.
"Some part of the NSK roof is quite old and is needed to be reconstructed," he informed.
While elaborating on PCB's different key positions, Nadeem, who joined his current employers in May 2007, said that there are six divisions -- Domestic Cricket, International Cricket, Marketing, Finance, Human Resources & Admin and Game Development -- in the PCB and each division is headed by a director.
"All the directors look after all affairs of their respective divisions. Chief Operating Officer (COO) Shafqat Naghmi, who is overall incharge of all directors, is bound to report to Chairman PCB Dr Nasim Ashraf."
When asked to comment on PCB's strength, Nadeem said that right now there are 514 employees on PCB's payroll. PCB had 372 employees when Dr Nasim Ashraf took the charge of board. Out of these 150 people that have been added to PCB, 125 have direct cricket-related jobs.
While explaining the nature of jobs of these employees Nadeem said, "There are 11 regions in PCB and every region has been given a coach, assistant coach, physio and trainer, altogether these are 44 people. Moreover, a head curator, assistant curator and groundsman have also been deputed in every region.
"We acquired two grounds in Rawalpindi and Hyderabad and another 20 people are there to look after these venues. PCB has also appointed a separate accountant in each region to make all the financial matters transparent and clean," he said.
"Moreover, PCB also introduced a very useful system according to which now we can keep proper record of each and every thing which we are disbursing to different clubs, districts and cricket associations," he explained. It may be noted here that PCB had no such system in the past.
When asked to explain the PCB's assets, Nadeem stated that when Dr Nasim Ashraf took over three years ago there were assets of Rs 2.4 billion then but now there are over Rs 4.5 billion reserves with PCB.
While informing about his in-hand projects, Nadeem said that he is looking after a couple of projects these days. "We are preparing three cricket grounds in earthquake-hit areas with all ground facilities and net practice equipments etc.
"These grounds are being prepared at Hazara University Mansehra, Ayub Medical College Abbottabad and Azad Jammu & Kashmir University in Muzaffarabad," he added.
"For this project English county Surrey donated Rs 20 million. Of these grounds, two can be used for first-class matches and the third one for grade-II cricket," he added.
"The work on these grounds will be completed till the end of current month (May 30) insha-Allah and then we will invite Surrey county officials for the formal inauguration of these grounds." PCB Chief Dr Nasim Ashraf is taking keen interest in this project and hopefully we will complete it according to our plan. "Before this project I also supervised the upgradation of Niaz Stadium, Hyderabad."
While explaining PCB's other steps for the promotion of game, Nadeem, who also has served in the National Commission for Human Development and Shaukat Khanum Memorial Hospital as Director Human Resources, informed that PCB is preparing 23/24 grounds in cities like Jhelum, Attock, Mardan and other parts of Sindh and NWFP.
He said "These grounds are being laced with all basic facilities to hold first class and grade-II matches. It is expected that the said venues will be ready for matches in next month or so," Nadeem expressed his hope.
When asked to comment on the future of Pakistan cricket, Nadeem said, "No doubt the future of Pakistan cricket is bright. These days our team is passing through a rebuilding process and hopefully in near future it would be among leading teams of the world."
To another query regarding schools cricket, Nadeem maintained that the PCB is giving due attention to this important segment. "As many as 862 schools participated in the PCB Inter-School tournament last season. This event was specially designed to spot and groom young cricketing talent and will be held regularly.
"PCB's regional development managers and coaches etc have been asked to monitor the whole grooming process of school teams to ensure merit-based selection," he concluded.
The writer is a staffer at 'The News' Lahore, email@example.com
The irony is that the match-winner in one encounter turns out to be a loser in another outing for the team by not coming up to what is expected of a fast bowler of his calibre
By Gul Nasreen
Isn't it fascinating to note that a world class pacer fetches his team an 'unbelievable' victory against strong opponents while defending a meagre total, then turns out to be a normal bowler in the next outing and after that pulls out of a do-or-die encounter on fitness grounds, multiplying the woes of his side?
From an outstanding to a normal-being to suddenly limping back off the ground to the pavilion in a span of just three matches is what happens to the 'Rawalpindi Express' in almost every major tournament. This is precisely what happened to him at the ongoing lucrative IPL outings, where he made a dream debut by making a memorable start, but could not continue with his magic spell in his second encounter of the event against the Mumbai Indians and, in the third one, he was not available for bowling on fitness grounds, dashing his fans' hopes down to the ground and destroying his team's hopes of making to the semis of the prestigious event.
There is no denying Shoaib's wicket-taking capability in adverse situations. His express bouncer is the most dreaded thing among the camps of opponent batsmen. He is not only the fastest bowler with a killer instinct but has also the ability to get back to his rhythm even if he has not played for months, but the irony is that the match-winner in one encounter turns out to be a loser in another outing for the team by not coming up to what is expected of a fast bowler of his calibre.
Shoaib's is not only a complex personality, a perplexing character but he is also a man of strange disposition, sometimes behaving eccentrically in normal circumstances while at others keeping calm and coming to terms with things quite wisely even in adverse situations.
Just imagine, he needs just weeks to come into form after he has not played for months, but succumbs to fitness problems all of sudden within the span of a few matches. That's why his critics question his utility for the team. On many an occasion his sudden pull-out of a match or absence from an event on fitness grounds not only multiplies the woes of the team, but also costs it an all-important match or an entire event. The purpose to say is that one cannot rely on him under testing times.
It was really a great setback for the Kolkata Knight Riders, when Shoaib could not make himself available for the most crucial encounter of the IPL when the former occupied the sixth position, with 10 points from 11 games, and needed to win the match against Rajashtan Royals to keep alive its hopes for the semifinal slot.
As such, Shoaib's absence along with other factors definitely contributed to Kolkata's ultimate ouster from the semis race after they lost their do-or-die encounter to Rajasthan Royals at the Eden Gardens in Kolkata on Tuesday last.
It's also worth-mentioning here that not only Shoaib's is a complex personality, but his fans and well-wishers also fall into this very 'confused' category of characters. They shower the fast bowler with unprecedented applause after his single successful outing as a pacer, but turn extremely hostile to him after his being unable to come up to their expectations in another match.
The same was the case with them during Shoaib's IPL outings. They showered immense praise on the fast bowler when he defended his side's paltry 134 runs by outclassing the Delhi Daredevils batsmen convincingly and comprehensively.
Shoaib's fans and supporters attributed his match-winning spell to captain Sourav Ganguly's inspiring skills, who was as they said "trying to getting behind him and motivating his trump card". They say that the supportive crowd and the captain's leadership skills served to fire the Rawalpindi Express up further to "respond with his express bouncers and dreaded deliveries like a classic fast bowler".
But the question is that what went wrong with him in the second match of IPL, where he was 'so so' in his form and approach to the game in spite of Ganguly's so-called inspiring skills and bouts of cheers from the crowd as well as 'pats on the back' from Shah Rukh Khan.
The purpose to say this is that the problem with Shoaib's supporters, fans and well wishers is that take a solitary devastating spell of Shoaib as a touchstone to adjudge his class. They pin high hopes on a bowler whose whole career has been marred by 'inconsistency, controversies and fitness problems'.
Delivering magic spells in a couple of matches, and then becoming unfit or getting embroiled in some sort of controversy has been the hallmark of Shoaib's career. It is due to these factors that Shoaib has played little cricket as compared to his compatriots.
He played just four Tests and a fewer one-dayers since 2006; also missed out on the Champions Trophy, the 2007 World Cup in the Caribbean Islands and then the inaugural edition of Twenty20 World Cup in South Africa.
Anyway, Shoaib's fans were extremely happy for him after one month's let off in his five years ban and afterwards were on cloud nine after his dream debut at the IPL. They were also looking forward to the firebrand pacer for some more brilliant outings at the IPL but Shoaib did not come up to their expectations.
His IPL dream debut proved to be a 'flash in the pan' and now he is back to resume his career-ending five years ban. One only feels sorry for the sad state of affairs on Shoaib's front.