Ijaz Butt: A tale of tantrums and controversies


Administrative career in brief
In 1982 Butt was appointed manager for the Pakistani winter tour of Australia, and in 1984 the secretary of the then Board of Control for Cricket in Pakistan, a position he held until 1988 along with the presidency of the Lahore City Cricket Association.
On October 6, 2008, President Asif Ali Zardari, patron of the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) appointed Butt as chairman of the PCB.
Controversies: He has been involved in several controversies during his career, presiding over the PCB a time when security concerns including an attack on the Sri Lankan team that stripped the country of several international fixtures. He was involved in trading match-fixing allegations during a tour of England in 2010.
His accusations of match fixing by the England team, though later retracted, let to speculation about his future with the PCB.
Row with former PCB officials: In October 2008, he also asked questions on the financial integrity of the previous PCB officials, and speculated on the removal Geoff Lawson, then Pakistani coach, from his position.
Two days later, however, he reversed his position by stating he was “duty-bound to fully back Lawson and to take care of all his liabilities.” Shafqat Naghmi, PCB Chief Operating Officer, also threatened to sue Butt over allegations that the former was stealing official documents.
Sri Lanka team Attack and after: To say that the attack on the Sri Lanka cricket team was the lowest point of Pakistan cricket would be no understatement.
Following an attack on a touring Sri Lanka cricket team in March 2009, Pakistan lost the Champions Trophy and the World Cup besides losing all the ICC’s pre-scheduled series. Other sports suffered due to this massive security disaster. Punjab Police, already notorious for its incompetence, emerged as the least dependable security institution in the country. Given the security threat, Butt could have arranged even private security.
Loss of World Cup: After the attack, Butt admitted in a public statement the difficulty international teams had in coming to the country, however he accused ICC referee Chris Broad of exaggerating the problems. ICC chief David Morgan, however, agreed with Broad’s assessment. The 2011 Cricket World Cup was moved out of Pakistan.
Butt continued to meet with the ICC board to regain the World Cup, to no avail, despite a legal battle which lasted until August. Eventually an out of court settlement of 18 million US dollars was agreed upon; Butt calling it “the best possible solution.”
Pakistan also lost the Champions Trophy in 2009 as it was held in South Africa.
India later cancelled their tour to Pakistan, though Butt was hoping to host Australia after the latter team expressed an interest.
Row with Javed Miandad: Security concerns did not lessen, however, and Javed Miandad’s resignation as director-general of the PCB resulted in traded accusations between himself and Butt at a Senate meeting. Butt refused to step down, and attacked the Senate as a body with little legal power over the PCB. The Senate nevertheless moved a resolution for a change in the PCB management. However, Butt remained in his position.
Removal of Saleem Altaf: The PCB under Butt dissolved the national selection panel and removed Saleem Altaf from his position as Chief Operating Officer. The summer tour of Sri Lanka was also marred by match-fixing allegations over which the PCB sought legal advice. The ICC eventually cleared the Pakistan players from any contact with bookmakers.
Younis Khan and captaincy: Towards the winter of 2009, Butt also came up against Younis Khan in a dispute over the captaincy, with Khan taking time out of the game.
By January 2010, however, Butt ruled that a new captain would be chosen following the tour of Australia, with Khan quitting the captaincy.
Further match fixing claims arose in February, and Butt promised action against the players involved following the report of an inquiry committee which investigated Pakistan’s whitewash defeat during the tour of Australia.
Further match fixing and financial corruption accusations followed for both Butt and the PCB in 2010.
Nevertheless, the ICC announced on 11 February the awarding of a medal for Butt for services to cricket.
Spot-fixing: As if the attack on Sri Lanka team was not enough, the game’s biggest scandal emerged in Butt’s term.
Though Butt had deflected accusations of match fixing in February 2010 during Pakistan’s tour of Australia, the 2010 tour of England was marred by controversial match fixing allegations involving a number of Pakistan players and their actions during the Test series against the host nation and against Australia. Scotland Yard confirmed that it had questioned Pakistan players Salman Butt, Mohammad Asif, Mohammad Amir and Wahab Riaz over allegations of accepting bribes, and that the police had passed evidence to the Crown Prosecution Service.
Ijaz Butt attacked the England cricket team during a press conference, accusing them of a conspiracy to “defraud Pakistan cricket” by accepting their own bribes. He stated that:
“There is loud and clear talk in bookie circles that some English players have taken enormous amounts of money to lose the the third ODI. No wonder there was such a collapse.”
The remarks provoked a backlash from the England and Wales Cricket Board as well as England coach Andy Flower and captain Andrew Strauss.
The ECB announced that it would be taking legal action against Butt for his allegations, though the tour would continue despite several England players’ reluctance to participate.
There were several calls for Butt to resign, however he refused.
The England team later made official their demand for an apology in a letter sent to Butt, promising legal action without further warning if their request went unfulfilled.
Butt arrived in London in late September vowing not to retract his comments in the run up to a meeting with the lawyers of three suspended Pakistan players, however later reversed himself and retracted his statement. The ICC board of directors discussed sacking him in a meeting in Dubai should he not accept new anti-corruption measures.
Shahid Afridi: Following Pakistan’s loss to India in the World Cup 2011, Shahid Afridi developed differences with coach Waqar Younis. Afridi announced his retirement and said he would not play as long Butt was the chairman of the PCB. The issue went to court and later a patch up was worked out by arbitrators.
The positives: However, there were quite a few positives also. Pakistan’s win in the ICC World T20 was the moot point. Pakistan reached the semi-finals of the World Cup. Butt curbed player power in the team. Pakistan beat Australia in Tests after a long time. Pakistan won series in New Zealand.


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