Haider’s horror and the tennis turmoils | Pakistan Today

Haider’s horror and the tennis turmoils

Zulqarnain Haider’s unannounced flight from Dubai has added yet another episode in Pakistan cricket’s sordid run of recent scandals.
It must have been something that was said to him that scared the living daylights out of him. He did not even consult with the management, leave alone the players.
Perhaps he had seen enough in his brief stay in international cricket, that he was not able to trust anyone at all. To be fair, the boy had been known to complain about mysterious goings on in first class cricket and on the international stage in the past as well.
Then there was the case of a first class match where he had been removed as captain and the opposing team’s opener, a certain Salman Butt had set the ground ablaze with 90-plus runs in 29 balls.
These entire goings-on raise the question as to whether Zulqarnain is one of the few who are not on cozy terms with the match-fixers? Certainly, all the other players seem perfectly relaxed.
But then no match can be fixed without the active participation of the wicketkeeper. He is the one who can drop the catches and muff the run outs as desired. And now we have another Akmal sliding comfortably into the catcher’s position. Where is Sarfraz or some of the other wicketkeepers on the national circuit?
This further raises the question: Are these people also controlling the selection of the team? That had been strongly hinted at by the man who reportedly threatened Zulqarnain. Has the malignancy spread into the entire body of our cricket structure? Where does it end up? Where does the buck stop?
Could Zulqarnain have overreacted to the threat or was that threat the last straw that broke his will? Initially he claimed that the man had said that he could make things difficult for Zulqarnain.
In London, Zulqarnain went a lot further, claiming that there were death threats to him and his family.
Perhaps that could be attributed to building a case for asylum, the skeptics amongst us might argue. But Zulqarnain has been nothing but a fully committed team man and it would be stretching it a bit, because he has a promising career ahead of him and getting asylum could put paid to his career.
One has to wait while the dust settles, but all signs point to a critically serious ethics problem in our cricket. The sooner a no-nonsense administrator takes over, the better.
Pakistan’s two stalwart batsmen, Younis and Yousuf were to be in the lineup to face South Africa in the first Test in Dubai. But Yousuf got injured, ruling himself out of the series.
And Younis was there on stumps day two, making the side’s comeback look good in his typically self-assured manner.
Despite the stop and go type of selection policy that has deprived a batsman of Younis’ class the much needed continuity, and against world class opposition, a batsman has to be at his very sharpest if he is to stay at the crease.
Younis looked good in a couple of ODI innings, and this is another opportunity to strike it big and silence the irksome doubters.
I hope he and the others fire against the likes of Steyn and Morkel and the very slight edge that Pakistan had at close on day two would be translated into some more meaningful.
In the contest of the Test series, the South African’s should have the edge in batting fast bowling and fielding, while Pakistan would be hoping to make inroads with their spinners. Regardless of the result, it should be an intriguing contest. Test cricket is still where it’s at and the rumours of its death are greatly exaggerated.
Pakistan’s tennis turmoil continues. The PTF incumbents, after publicly and in writing, promising not to run for election for a third time, got the ad hoc committee removed.
Then they promptly decided to run again. Talk about ethics. The Sports Ministry is all set to challenge this move, the simple reason being that the PTF constitution allows only two terms.
It is as simple as that.
What is it that drives these people to break promises and do all kinds of shenanigans, just for the honorary, unpaid responsibility of running a sport that they have never played? The mind boggles.
Incidentally, Dilawar Abbas, in an interview on television, had called this scribe a psycho, while claiming to be developing a 60-year old man as future star. Considering the source, psycho will do just fine, thank you. The elections, set for Nov. 26 promise to be a knock down drag out affair. One of the front runners, Salim Saifullah has withdrawn in favour of a dark horse, Islamabad IG Police Kaleem Imam.
The Dilawar Abass camp has reportedly named three people for the President’s position, including a retired Brigadier who has never played tennis. Kaleem Imam is an excellent tennis player with proven administrative skills.
It is reported that his choice of secretary is the former national champion of the 60s, Zulfiqar Rahim.
Zulfiqar has been involved in tennis at the highest level in England and in Belgium, where he has advised the Belgian Tennis Federation on its development programs.
Earlier, he had trained his younger brother Haroon Rahim, who later became Pakistan’s best ever player. Currently Zulfi is running a tennis academy in Islamabad where he trains Samir Iftekhar and other junior players. A soft spoken man, with a passion for the sport, his presence would make a light year’s difference compared to the current lot who do not even know how to keep score.
After their heroics at the US Open, the Indo Pak express of Aisam Qureshi and Rohan Bopanna have been a regular presence on the ATP Tour. Currently they are competing in the Paris Masters, in a bid to qualify for the year end finals in London. They are an exciting team, one of the very best and one wishes them the best of luck.

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