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Last Updated: Wednesday, 16 June, 2004, 17:00 GMT 18:00 UK
Unhappy PCB take another detour
By Scott Heinrich

Zimbabwe, it would seem, is not the only international cricket team weathering a crisis at present.

PCB president Ramiz Raja and chairman Shahryar Khan
It's incompetent of the PCB to handle situations in this manner
Former captain Asif Iqbal

Pakistan's problems, of course, are not in the same league, but the axing of Javed Miandad as coach on Wednesday spotlights the panic presently gripping the cricket board.

To most, Pakistan's defeat to India earlier this year was a compelling battle fought out by two arch-rivals. But just another series, nevertheless.

To Pakistan, it was galling. A first ever home defeat by India was a pill to bitter to swallow, and hysteria ensued.

"This announcement is a great surprise to me. It is a big over-reaction," Miandad's former team-mate Asif Iqbal told BBC Sport.

"If the loss to India is the reason he has been sacked then it is very unfortunate.

"Miandad has done a fairly good job. He may have lost to India, but I have no doubt Pakistan were beaten by a better side."

Prior to the series against India, Pakistan had taken the Test scalps of South Africa at home and New Zealand away.

A rash of talented top-order batsmen and an emerging pace attack had given Pakistan every cause to look to the future with optimistic eyes.

Shoain Akhtar
Akhtar was put through a public fitness trial to save his honour

But they found themselves outclassed in both forms of the game by an India side on the crest of a wave after drawing in Australia.

To question Shoaib Akhtar's injury in the deciding Test in Rawalpindi seemed valid, but in its pursuit of the truth the Pakistan Cricket Board went on a witch hunt.

Amid vehement criticism from within Pakistan, the PCB very publicly ran Shoaib - and astoundingly four others - through their paces in front of a specially formed medical tribunal.

PCB chief Rameez Raja insisted it was in the best interests of the players, but his intentions were thinly veiled. The players all 'got off', making the PCB look petty.

And then parliament got involved, demanding an explanation for the loss to India. No wonder the PCB wanted to pass the buck.

"Instead of looking for reasons we look for scapegoats and excuses," Iqbal added.

"It's incompetent of the PCB to handle situations like this. It was totally unfair on Shoaib to be put through that trial.

"They should have investigated it behind closed doors, and take action if he was found to be faking. If it was true, they should have banned him for life.

Richard Pybus
Pybus quit last year, citing a lack of interest in the dressing room

"It's sad that they deal with players like that."

In the space of one series, Pakistan supposedly went from a good team to an ordinary one, prompting necessary change. History has shown this too often to be Pakistan all over.

At the World Cup last year, it was coach Richard Pybus and captain Waqar Younis who played the fall guys. This time it is Shoaib and Miandad.

Miandad, a genius if impetuous batsman in a glittering 124- Test career, has now come and gone as Pakistan coach for a third time.

In firing him, the PCB said it wanted to introduce "advanced technological methods of coaching". In Bob Woolmer, they may have found their man.

But it is hard to decipher exactly what Pakistan want.

Pinning their faith in Miandad for a third term implied an inherent faith, but even when Pakistan were winning he had to contend with a PCB hierarchy that was malcontent with one thing or another.

Woolmer, one suspects, will soon discover that he has been brought in to produce results. It is to be hoped he does not discover it at his cost.

"I'm sure Woolmer will do a good job, but to axe Miandad was wrong," Iqbal concluded.

"It was not proper and the PCB over-reacted. Pakistan cricket is in good shape, but change like this is a backward step."


SEE ALSO
PCB summoned by parliament
28 May 04 |  Cricket
Coach Miandad may quit
08 Apr 04 |  International Teams
Pakistan's uneasy alliance
08 Nov 03 |  Cricket
Javed reveals Imran rivalry
03 Jun 03 |  Cricket
Miandad 'resigned over fixing'
08 Dec 01 |  Cricket
The Javed enigma
03 Apr 01 |  England on Tour


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