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Pakistan Cricket and Competence Debate

To establish a competence and excellence based environment the methods need to be uniform and fair for everyone. The administrators and facilitators should also follow the same path to prominence as the players. Players and administrators are two wheels of the same cart and the cart can fly not when either of them performs at optimum level but only when both of them are in-tune and synchronized with each other. 

After every few years, Pakistan Cricket goes through structural and administrative changes. Almost nearly 20 years now, Pakistan Cricket has been going through such 'drastic' changes ranging from dissolution of board, removal of Chairman, ad hoc setups, captaincy musical chair, appointment of local stalwarts as coaches, induction of foreign coaches, early departures/ removal of coaches, musical chairs of Team Managers, shuffling, disbanding and reformation of selection committee etc etc.

All these changes were carried out with the objective of betterment of Pakistan Cricket but unfortunately, it has yielded everything except betterment of Pakistan Cricket. As a result, Pakistan Cricket has gone down and down with every passing day. In the early stage, it didn't seem to have effect on the performance of Pakistan Cricket, primarily, because the system still had enough supplies in the pipeline from the past that kept Pakistan Cricket afloat till mid 2000s, though not ideally but still with some degree of respectable performances. 

Since then, it has all been a downward slide. Its not that nothing has been tried. In fact, this is the period in which probably the most things have been tried and the least things have looked to work. As a consequence, Pakistan Cricket has found itself in yet another meeting with its close friend of last 20 years, that is, the need for change, revamp and corrections. 

Like always, the objective at this point is also looking to be the same, that is, to fix the issues at the superficial level not at the fundamental layer, change the wrapping not the quality of its content and bring 'drastic' and 'brave' changes to the faces of Pakistan Cricket rather than the system of Pakistan Cricket. 

Like always, the familiar debate has resurfaced. Who should be the coach of Pakistan? Who should be the selectors? Who should be the Chairman? etc. There are countless names going around who all seem to be more than willing to 'serve' the nation by getting hired at the top most level of Pakistan Cricket. That is not only resulting in more supply than demand but also in making the decision of appointment difficult and prone to be criticised by majority as all of the contenders can never be facilitated and as a result there will always be more disgruntled souls than the ones content with the process and result. More than the fans, the most of the noise is also coming from ex-Cricketers and ex-administrators of the game and there is no sign of it to go down in the near future. 

In theory, Chairman of the board, like head of any organization, should be the one to take the most of the responsibility for the performance of the organization he is leading - Pakistan Cricket, in this case - but as funny as it can get, not only the Chairman but the whole of the board administration has been seen to be taking the position that considering the challenges and situation at hand, the Chairman and the board did not only accomplished satisfactory but exemplary and praiseworthy job and its the players who failed not the board. 

Needless to say if such argument and excuse of top executives could have been accepted in any for-profit organization or corporate anywhere in the world. In case, the board administration is neither responsible nor accountable for the primary objective of the board, that is, the performance of the team then nothing worth understanding more than what the administration is responsible and accountable for? What is their mission statement? What are their short term and long term objectives and what is the KPI - Key Performance Indicator - to measure their progress against those objectives? 

Another interesting argument that keeps coming back to haunt Pakistan Cricket is that job related competence, expertise and experience is of least value when it comes to administration of Cricket. It means that the coaches don't necessarily need to have any coaching certification, the selectors don't need to have any experience of the job and to top it all, the Chairman and top officials don't need to be a Cricketer by themselves or need to have any prior experience of running Cricket at any level. In other words, there is no need for any criteria, pre-requisite or screening mechanism to assess the competence, expertise and experience of anyone for any job and anyone is capable of doing any job. 

As irrational and unconvincing as it may sound but let's accept it for a while. There might be some benefits of that. Let's accept for a while the usual argument as well that all over the world, it is not necessary for Cricketers to be the best administrators as playing is one specialised job while administration is another specialised job and the probability of someone specialising both in playing and administrating the game is very low. Let's accept all that for a while and move on.

The point is, if we are following the international standards and norms then why we are failing to deliver in comparison to the same standards? Keeping the on-field performances aside, why Pakistan Cricket administration is failing to groom the players to be the respectable ambassadors of Pakistan and why the administrations is failing to prevent Pakistan Cricket from the usual scandals, controversies and power-tussles within the team? It probably highlights that if you have to adopt the international standards and norms, it will not bring the fruits until it is done in pick and chose manner and we might have to adopt few more of standards and norms of International Cricket. 

First of such norms would be the setting up of a "Cricket Committee" comprising of the most experienced and successful Cricketers the country has produced. The objective of the committee should not be to run Cricket but to assist the administration in aligning their plans and its practicality with the realities of actual experience of playing Cricket at International level. It should serve as the advisory and monitoring body to assist the board in formulating and execution of its plans. 

Then, the next step should be to prohibit the induction of any individual directly at the board or national team level. All competent and interested individuals should come through a system that should start at the grass-root level - whether in Pakistan or outside. Be it the coach, selector, manager, support staff or even Chairman of the board or the administration team, they all must start at the grass-root level and make their way up to the top after spending ample time at every step of the ladder. Whether its progressing through to the top as a Cricketer or as a top professional in any organization, there is no short cut to the top and every individual has to go through a certain growth path and progression process. That's how top Cricketers and top professionals are produced instead of parachuting someone at the top. 

There should be no restriction on anyone to serve Pakistan Cricket in any capacity but to make a lasting impact, they should be asked to follow the same path as a Cricketer himself does. Anyone aspiring for the role of Head Coach of the National team or Chairman of the board should be encouraged by facilitating them to get associated with any of the Cricket administration at the level lower than Pakistan Cricket Team level. Pakistan Cricket Team should not be the test lab or learning project for anyone to experiment. Instead, it should only be given in the hands of people who have already experienced the lower level of Pakistan Cricket and have proved their performance and competence. 

If the objective is the performance and the target is competence then Pakistan Cricket has to follow the already established and successful methods of doing so that are in practice all over the world. But if the objective is just to use the International norms as a convenient excuse to justify and facilitate the incompetence and dominance of opportunists in Pakistan Cricket then it may continue to mark "All-OK" and go back to what they are doing for decades now. But then, the fans and supporters of Pakistan Cricket should not expect any difference of results in the decades to come either.

As they say, you reap what you sow and if you expect oranges from an apple tree, you only have yourself to blame for it. 

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