There’s been a sea change in the Pakistan team environment since the 2010 spot-fixing scandal left the team in a state of disarray. Perhaps the administrators of India’s T20 league could pay heed to the initiative taken around the Pakistan national team.
The five-year ban handed to promising quickie Mohammad Amir jolted the very fibre of sport in the troubled nation. And that’s why they have stringent, almost regimented measures in place. Neither skipper Misbah-ul-Haq nor coach Dav Whatmore is a figurative head of a young side as was the case with most Pakistan teams of the past. It is the Pakistan Cricket Board’s (PCB) Director Security - Vigilance, Ehsan Sadiq, who actively monitors the players’ blackberry messenger windows, tablets and mobile phones.
If a player intends to step out of the team premises, he approaches Sadiq, a former member of the National Counter Terrorism Authority and DG-Security in the Islamabad Police. Having travelled with the players since August, his primary job is to monitor their whereabouts and external communication, besides acting as a mentor. When the ICC conducted a workshop for the PCB a few years ago, the main focus was to instil courage in young players, easy targets for bookies in a market that feeds off cricket betting.
The communication between Sadiq and a player is treated in confidentiality. Therefore, if S Sreesanth ever wanted to confess his wrongdoings, the channel he perhaps needed was not available.
Former Pakistan spinner Saqlain Mushtaq advocates similar measures across the world. “You want to educate youngsters and show them the right path. Most of them are from small towns. When they are suddenly exposed to money, they need a father figure to educate them. It is a great decision by PCB — and from what I am told it is working wonders,” he told HT.
Saqlain, currently a part of Bangladesh’s coaching staff, feels players need to come clean before getting embroiled in controversy. “When Imran bhai (Khan) was captain, youngsters had someone they could approach and be honest with. The problem in Pakistan was the captain himself — Salman Butt — was doing wrong things. I also feel mistakes can be pardoned if you talk to the right people. Most of them are scared to admit their wrongdoings,” he added.
“I suggest that ICC and all the boards sit down and think of constructive measures. They need all the help from the media — they should share information and help the boards. I am sure there were enough journalists who knew about Sreesanth being involved. I met him only once, when I was playing for Essex, against India in a tour match. He came across as a little different. But I couldn’t have guessed something like this.”