Hanif Mohammad was one of the founding greats of Pakistan cricket © AFP
The pleas for financial treatment of the family by an ailing Hanif Mohammad have been turned down by the PCB. Abhishek Mukherjee looks at the blatant irreverence displayed by the Pakistan Board.
Hanif Mohammad is the brightest star of Pakistan’s greatest Test cricket dynasty: three of his brothers — Wazir, Mushtaq, and Sadiq — have played Tests, as has his son Shoaib; while his eldest brother Raees had stood as the twelfth man in a Test as well. Hanif would also feature as an opening batsman in an all-time Pakistan XI of anyone with the slightest knowledge of the history of the sport.
In short, even if we discount the facts that he had played the longest Test innings or the fact that he had held the world record for the highest First-Class score till a couple of decades back, he is nothing short of that clichéd phrase: a living legend.
Few people are aware of the fact that Hanif had been suffering from liver cancer. He was operated by Surgeon Robert Hutchins in July 2013, and had subsequently been undergoing chemotherapy. The last therapy happened to be on December 21, 2013 (his 79th birthday), and the post-therapy CT scan report has been sent to Dr Hutchins for opinion.
However, despite the persistent appeal for financial help from Hanif’s family members, the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) has turned a deaf ear. “No news update from PM [Prime Minister’s] office, sports ministry or PCB on any sort of financial help. My father has submitted his UK medical bills with a covering letter to PCB, sports ministry on the request of PM office (almost six million Pakistani rupees, 35 to 40 thousand pounds),” revealed Hanif’s son Shahzeb.
Najam Sethi, the former PCB Chairman, had announced a paltry sum of five lakh rupees; unfortunately he was sacked the next day and PCB has not got back to the Mohammads ever since. This is possibly treatment of the most atrocious kind that PCB could have dished out to the man who, along with Abdul Hafeez Kardar and Fazal Mahmood, had helped shape Pakistan cricket in its initial years.
It is not that PCB is short on cash. Last week they had been paid a sum that has been estimated between 58 and 60 million US dollars (it may go up to about 100 millions, as per a source) as their share from the International Cricket Council (ICC) events for the past eight years. A mere 0.1% (one-thousandth) of the amount would have helped solve the financial conditions for one of the greatest men in their history.
There have been several cricketers who have faced financial crisis in their post-cricket days. However, few have been of the stature of Hanif. There may be a thousand reasons to criticise The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), but it must be admitted that their pension scheme is sufficient to take care of the ex-cricketers.
PCB, of course, is nowhere close to BCCI in terms of finances: that, however, does not imply that they are not rich enough to take care of their former cricketers, especially legends. The amounts may be small, but the gesture is one that should ideally be followed by cricket boards around the world.
Pakistan is already forced to play their home matches outside their countries, and there is no reason for ICC to be lenient in these respects. They keep on producing spectacular cricketers — only to vanish into oblivion after a few matches into the gloom of financial insecurity (if they are not selected for one of the Twenty20 leagues that are played along the world).
PCB has already been criticised for their idiosyncratic attitude towards selection policies and the treatment dished out to players. An attitude like this may discourage upcoming cricketers from taking up the sport as a profession: if they can do this to Hanif, why would they treat me any better?
It’s simply not cricket, PCB.
PS: ICC, given your revenue, can you not support the ex-cricketers as well? Here is a man who was one of the initial 55 that you had inducted into your Hall of Fame, remember?
(Abhishek Mukherjee is the Deputy Editor and Cricket Historian at CricketCountry. He blogs at http://ovshake.blogspot.in and can be followed on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/ovshake42)