Simon Katich has been among the highest run scorers for Australia in past few years © Getty Images
Simon Katich has been among the highest run scorers for Australia in past few years © Getty Images

 

By Faisal Caesar

 

It’s painfully obvious a lot has changed in Australian cricket beyond their on-field fortunes. When the legendary Steve Waugh was axed from the One-Day International (ODI) captaincy, there was widespread sympathy, but no outrage. However, the changing times are evident in the avalanche of hype that has followed the unfortunate axing of Simon Katich.

 

First, Michael Slater lashed out at the Australian selectors and then a bitter Katich took the Australian selectors to the cleaners under the glare of the media. Federal Defense Minister Stephen Smith is the latest to join the attack on the national selectors. 

 

Is this Cricket Australia or an enactment by PCB or WICB!

 

Australian cricket has lost the aura of invincibility. And one of the reasons for the decade-long supremacy was a strong administration. A team studded with stars is bound to have ego clashes and conflicts with the board, but they were managed smoothly and the administrators held control without being dictatorial. The Australian team was renowned for its cricketing juggernaut than controversies. Sadly, Australian cricket finds itself in turmoil at present.

 

In 1995 when the West Indies lost their empire to Australia, the conflict between West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) and two of its key players, Curtly Ambrose and Brian Lara, hit the headlines. The WICB did precious little to nip the problem in the bud and foster a healthy relationship with its players as a result of which has only distanced the players further and soured the relationship further. In such a vitiated atmosphere, it’s natural that the team performances suffer as a consequence. 

 

PCB is in a league of its own

 

The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) has no competition in this regard. Since 1992, the PCB’s whimsical acts have repeatedly tarnished Pakistan cricket. Pakistan players have never felt connected with their board nor trusted the officials. PCB officialdom has come across as egoistical men who are more worried about their positions than the betterment or image of Pakistan cricket or its players’ welfare.

 

In 1993, Javed Miandad was inexplicably axed and a young and inexperienced Wasim Akram was made captain. A revolt then removed Akram the following year and brought Salim Malik as captain. Then Malik was removed because of match-fixing charges… the baton kept changing hands from Rameez Raja, Wasim Akram, Rashid Latif, Saeed Anwar, Aamir Sohail, Moin Khan making Pakistan a laughing stock in the eyes of the cricketing world.

 

There was infighting in the team, charges traded in public and the Pakistan media stripped its cricket, doing no good for the country’s image. Nothing was being managed maturely. The relationship between Pakistan players and the PCB, if anything, has only worsened since then.

 

The downfall of West Indies cricket started with the Lara-Ambrose saga and that of Pakistan with the ouster of Miandad from the captaincy. Australia has to learn a lesson from the happenings in West Indies and Pakistan and handle the present imbroglio in a mature manner. Unless there is a healthy relationship between players and their respective board, on-field performance would take a hit. And if Australia has to regain their lost glory, their apex body has to get its act right.

 

Will ego take a backset and reason come on the forefront?

 

(Faisal Caesar is a doctor by profession whose dream of becoming a cricketer remained a dream. But his passion is very much alive and he translates that passion in writing about the game)