Yes this post is about the much publicized, much talked about ban on Shoaib Akhtar and Mohammed Asif. From the title of the post, some of you must be amusing that I belong to the camp thats crying foul. Let me clarify that by saying, Yes, I am crying foul but not about the punishment but the nature of the punishment, the inequality in justice and the complete lack of objectivity from the tribunal that passed the judgement.
My friends know me as a big fan of Shoaib Akhtar, and like any fan I am deeply dissapointed by the fact that I wont be seeing much of him, if any at all in the future. His life as a professional cricketer has probaly ended with an exclamation mark. One has to see red flags that these decision were being taken by a supposedly dynamic PCB thats out to change the shape of cricket in Pakistan. We have all seen such tall claims in the past, like those of Tauqir Zia, without much coming out of them.
In the 27 years that I have breathed cricket, there have been two rock stars, Imran Khan and Shoaib Akhtar. The first one bowed out of the game rather gracefully with a world cup under his belt - lets say like a Jimmy Page or more like a Paul McCartney. Shoaib however proved to be a Kurt Cobain, his demise somewhat sucidal and blamed much on drugs and much like Kurt, Shoaib's absence will be felt by all lovers of the game.
Now let me come to my grudges. I am just an inch away from out rightly suggesting that the cricket board goes forth and multiply or something to that order. How ridiculous is this new management. Not only do I find Nasim Ashraf to be extremly pretentious but I also doubt his capability to effectively manage the board. His elevation to the position in the board is probably one of the few areas where Musharaff and I dont see eye to eye (not that he would seek my consent but still).
The board has not taken effective measures to create awareness about the drug use. These are Pakistani cricket players we arent talking about. They arent choosen for their comprehenshon ability. You have to drill these into them, make them understand. Passing out a code book and that too in English (not a commonly spoken language in the team) and then conducting a workshop to all those present is not enough and all this happened during the time of Sheryar Khan, the former head of PCB. You have to indoctrinate these fellows about the damages, both to their abilities and careers, that result from the use of drugs.
Then there is this debate about Nandrolone itself. Reputed athelets from a broad spectrum of sports had tested positive, were suspeneded and later proved their innocence. It is said that currently the IOC is debating wether the level that it has set for Nandrolone are too strict. In cases were athletes were able to clear their name, there was a thorough investigation, research was done and a case was made by experienced professional in their respective areas.
But lets get back to PCB, who decide to pick a half witted former player and coach (Intikhab Alam), a retired Judge and former governor Shahid Hamid and a Dr. Waqar Ahmad for the tribunal. As is the rule in proceedings across the world, the defendants are asked to use a lawyer and if they are unable to do so, the authorities provide them with one (Miranada Rights anyone - all those cop and robber movies that we have seen). The players were however represented by a medical doctor in case of shoaib and a by himself in case of asif.
The verdict was that asif gets a year long ban, because hes is not that literate to understand the complexities of doping law and yet the same board found it adequate for this less than literate player to represent himself. Shoaib got a two year ban. According to Intikhab, he was to be made an exmaple of, why you wonder, not because he took drug supplements alone, but also because he used to drink alcohol and had an active sex life. I knew some of these guy were and no self esteem, but Intikhab Alam has now gone low enough to crawl from under a snake . Nobody informed Shoaib that he was being judged not only on the charges of consumption of controlled substances but also on allegations of breaching the hudood ordinance.
I thought cricket was a game of gentlemen not priests, what the gentlemen does in the confines of his own space is not a concern of anyone else expect those within that space. Either Intikhab is jealous or mis-informed that Nandrolone can be created in a body through comsumption of Alcohol or having an active sex life. In either case, its non of his god dam business to talk about it with the press. For shame Intikhab Alam, for shame!!
And while all this happens we hear a whimper of news come by and probably go un-noticed from PCB about player contracts being revised. Hmmm, who was the player who had the biggest issue with the revision of contract. None other than our Shoaib, who was reported over and over agian for not having agreed to the contract and was probably among last few people to signed on his prior to the teams departure for the champions trophy and surprise surprise, he barely there for a week when shit hits the fan.
All this has convinced me, maybe wrongly maybe rightly, that although the players are at a bit of fault the punishments handed out to them have showed a highly vindictive side of the PCB. My suggestions to both Asif and Shoaib is to challenge the PCBs decision, also Shoaib should take Intikhab Alam to court for publicly talking about his private life without his content in matter that did not pertain to it at all. I hope that my favorite rocker in the Pakistani team would soon be back rocking stadias all over the world, alas I may be extremly wrong.