22 Memories from the ‘Kirmich’ ball era

Watching the Pakistan team bat against Australia this morning in the 1st test match somehow made me wish if every Pakistani batsman could get 2 chances to bat in each innings. The thought, although impractical, opened the doors to many of my own memories from the childhood days when I used to play tape ball or ‘kirmich’ ball (as we used to call it) cricket quite regularly. That would surely have been a format where if one team was a player short, one batsman from that team could’ve been allowed to bat twice. This, and so much more is so far from the real world of cricket but still, even today, many good hard ball cricketers give a lot of credit for their success to this type of cricket.

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In this piece, I am sharing 22 of the most interesting memories of ‘kirmich’ ball cricket that I have. Some of these are not only hilarious but also bizarre to a certain extent when compared with the actual rules of the game. Whichever way you look at it, it was and still is the golden period of many Pakistanis’ and specially Karachiite’s lives.

For me, time when we played ‘Kirmich’ ball cricket was the time:

  1. When it was considered a taboo for someone to open the batting and bowl the first over.
  2. When the most coveted fielding position was to keep wickets.
  3. When Keeping wickets would be called ‘Keepering.’
  4. When the last batsman could bat alone without a partner on the other end.
  5. When the last batsman needed to run 2 in order to be counted as a single.
  6. When walls were used for ‘Deewaar-Catch’ with the most amazing stipulation of using only one hand.
  7. When a one hand catch would also be considered legitimate if it was caught on a single bounce aka ‘One-Tip Out’.
  8. When ‘Heads or Tails’ was first ‘Chaand ya Chaap’ and then ‘Quaid-e-Azam ya Masjid’.
  9. When a Nitto Tape was the most desirable winning prize for the whole team.
  10. When there was a whole science associated with putting tape onto a ball.
  11. When it wasn’t necessary to have enough players to form two teams. ‘Numbering’ would then be the format of the game.
  12. When batting numbers would be decided by one person guessing the number of fingers another person would have opened behind his back over his shoulder.
  13. When stumps would be the distance between two pebbles with a hypothetical height.
  14. When umpires would be from the batting side and the umpire would be eager to get a bat himself.
  15. When regulations would be stricter than the ICC when it came to the bending of the arm for a bowler.
  16. When a batsman had the right to give a ‘Batta Call’ to the umpire when he could measure the arm bend of the bowler exceeding the allowed limit through his bare eyes.
  17. When the bowlers could object on the batsman covering all the stumps. ‘Wicket chor k khelo, bhai!
  18. When due the lack of fielders or unsuitable terrain, play could be limited to offside or onside only.
  19. When batsmen didn’t need to run when the ball hit the wall behind the wicket keeper as that would automatically add a single or double to the scorecard.
  20. When ‘Ghar mein jana’ could either deduct runs or result in the fall of a wicket.
  21. When a player could be substituted by another permanently on need basis.
  22. When the ball hitting the body of the batsman was as good as hitting the stumps (One Body Out).

Some of the above are not only memories but rules that still prevail in these times. Tape ball cricket is a sport and passion in its own right.  For all those guys out there playing Tape Ball cricket regularly, keep rocking and keep this game alive.

Hammad A. Mateen

 

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Policy & Procedures: Do organizations really mean it?

The second half of the 20th century brought with it a start to revolutionary changes in organizational management styles. Emphasis started being given to proper management structures where a concept of shared ownership was developed and policies opened the top managements’ doors for everyone at the workplace. Management suddenly became a science and terms like data mining, forecasting, and decision analysis etc. became the talk of the town. Business had new rules- rules that were governed by the principles set by management theories. Systems, structures and frameworks had started being developed and/ or adopted. A new breed of professionals emerged onto the scene and they called themselves ‘Consultants’. They would help organizations open up their eyes to see what was happening in the outside world. This awakening though would cost organizations fortunes. But, companies felt it was the need of the hour and in some cases, an ‘in’ thing to hire a consultant and have systems implemented. There was a small problem to all of this though- humans.

I participated in a training in Osaka back in 2012 which was a trainer’s trainer course for the Management Training Program (MTP). What struck me the most in Japan was an astonishing contrast. It was a contrast between understanding human beings and implementing strong systems. For many, it may not come across as a contrast. It may not even come across as relevant for a few. But what was interesting for me to observe was the presence of such strong and robust systems and infrastructures in every field and walk of life there and yet the heart of the management training program was to understand human beings better. I think this is because of the underlying fact that all systems and policies are useless until those upon whom these policies have an effect on are understood completely encompassing every facet of their personalities. Human psychology is a complex subject and those who are students of this subject would agree to me on that. Every human being is a different person, with different needs, reactions and patterns of thinking. And to categorize them is a task that only has a start and no definite end to it.

Frameworks and policies therefore fail to take on a robust shape in countries like ours where importance is given to personalities more than the system itself. How many times have we seen organizations that are run on a system that completely depends on one or two individuals who are sitting at the helm of affairs?
It is actually unfair to call this kind of setting a ‘system’ in the first place. These are work environments where educated, qualified professionals boast about the prevalent management theories of their times or maybe even those that are predicted for the times to come. Yet, in effect, their own organizations or departments lack seriousness in the very same areas. Systems and structures are merely used as disposable tools for short term benefits that are often even limited to personal gains instead of organizational advantage.

Change is the only thing that is consistent in these kind of organizations. The primary reason behind this is the on-going violation of policies in the name of amendments/ enhancements. The interesting part is that this is led/ allowed from the top. Policies and systems in such organizations are intentionally set on weak foundations so that the same can be used against personnel by putting the blame on them for certain failures. I have seen policies that have room for exceptional cases ending up being used in way that it becomes difficult for one to distinguish between a rule and exception. Policies that are already made flexible are stretched to greater lengths and in many cases even revised frequently in order to entertain items on the wish list of those who disagree with what their predecessors had been doing- even if that means overwhelming any good practices. Dependence on institutional memory instead of concrete systems is not something that organizations should be proud of.

In this time, it is considered shameful for someone to concede that any of the work done by their predecessors was correct and on-track. This is basically because of the pressures ineffably and sometimes even explicitly put on new comers when bringing them on-board. These pressures push individuals to either re-brand the system that was already in place (discrediting all the work previously done) or start all over again reinventing the wheel. They need to do this in order to please egos of the people sitting at C-level positions in organizations who actually brought them on-board in the first position. It is sad but true.

From modern organizational management styles to pleasing egos, the work environment of many organizations specially in the sub-continent has generally deteriorated over time and systems and frameworks only serve the purpose of pleasant visual professional packaging and sometimes helps the organization get by compliance issues. Theories keep pouring in everyday and most of them may also be effective in reality. However, if there is a will to make a difference, one must adopt a mindset where scopes are defined, systems are strengthened and structures are allowed to mature and be followed. This requires consistency on both personal and professional levels and a control over one’s will to mold the system as per his/ her personal desires. Maybe that is what the world generally calls ‘professionalism’.

Hammad A. Mateen

Those mornings…

Mornings connote freshness- they represent bright starts and new beginnings. We look forward to them as they bring light, hope and enthusiasm to our lives. But then there are mornings that bring dread and angst with the awakening of the self-proclaimed unfortunate. When dreams gets shattered under the weight of reality and ideals are thrown out of the window by pragmatism. Mornings, when staying in bed means much more than just a few more moments of comfort. It’s hard to believe that the universe is still intact despite our prayers of its overnight culmination the previous night. Why did this morning come? Could our waking up actually be the beginning of a dream? How we wish it was!

Our fears stare us in the eyes and wish us good morning with all the sarcasm in the world almost mocking us without any pretense. We hide our apprehensions temporarily behind the alarm clock but that doesn’t last long either. And with a bugle call that almost signifies the commencement of our battle with our fears, we are forced- almost involuntarily pushed out into the battlefield. There’s no hiding now. The enemy must be confronted and this clash will not end before one of the warriors concedes defeat.

Some of us are so scared already that they do not want wounds to be taken along with them to the heavens and they raise the white flag anticipating a less painful death. Others use their armor of will almost out of compulsion like a cornered tiger and look their fears in the eye. They fight, bleed, and cry but they do not concede. Pain isn’t pain anymore and even though they have read the writing on the wall they refuse to die with the regret of not emptying the chamber at the enemy first.

For mornings like these, darkness brings peace. It’s an arduous journey towards the night- a night where refuge is on the offering and where reality takes a break.

Hammad A. Mateen

Motivation v Performance: An honest perspective

I see many professionals, team leaders and managers ask what seems to be a very important question to them: How do we keep our teams motivated? For several years, I kept asking this question myself. I asked this question from my mentors, I asked it from my colleagues, and I even asked this from my team members themselves. But somehow, no answer has convinced me so far in a way that I could witness actual results. It’s probably because in my opinion, I do not consider team motivation and team performance as two independent elements.

Team motivation almost compulsorily needs to reflect in team performance and that sometimes is not the case when motivation is mistaken for ‘always keeping the team happy’. Motivation and happiness without a shade of doubt have a correlation but very honestly put, this connection is only as strong as the results produced. Managers may experiment with the order of sequence in which the two work and may even compliment one with the other simultaneously but the fact of the matter is that performance will always outweigh motivation whenever looked at from a perspective of comparison.

 

As also mentioned above, motivation may at times be mistaken with the contentment of the team members. I used the term ‘mistaken’ here because for a lot of employees, contentment comes with complacency attached to it. Although these are essentially two different things but this is not how it is generally perceived especially when it comes to setting work-related goals. Average employees like myself are in search for job contentment and what this sometimes means deep down inside is the desire to work in an environment that does not challenge our competence in a critical manner.

The word ‘challenge’ when used in the present tense usually represents a situation or circumstances that we have chosen for ourselves knowingly and intentionally. Take a closer look at the situation and you will realize that there is very little in it that deserves to be called ‘challenging’ but since it was our desire to take it on, no matter how small a task it is, in our minds, it is a ‘challenge’. The same word though, when used in the past tense would usually represent a situation that was imposed upon one with him/ her not really wanting to be part of it. We only proudly call it a challenge once we somehow survive it and look back at it with a grin on the face. Otherwise, it is just a ‘demotivating’ task assigned by the boss with a single point agenda that is to set us up for failure and ruin our careers.

So it all comes down to being motivated in the present and producing results at the same time. For this, the only person with the power to lift you up and prepare you to face any challenge (real one) that comes your way is none other than your very own self. A good boss or leader can only add fuel to your fire. Believe it or not, NO ONE can ignite your passion but you. An exceptional leader will utilize even a single spark in you and turn it into fire but that first spark needs to come from within. A spark that comes from the belief that you have in what you do. And if you don’t have that- you’re probably in the wrong place.

So there’s no single answer or method to keeping your team motivated. It depends on the team as much as on the team leader to create an environment that yields positivity and is free from unnecessary carping. A great lesson (one that hit my right in the face) which I learnt from one of my professional mentors was when he told me, “Your appreciation for work is what you get transferred into your bank account on the first day of every new month. If you want more praise, do more than what you are getting paid for already.”

Although harsh but I guess that sums up pretty much everything.

Hammad A. Mateen

Do you want change?

We all want to make a difference and turn this country around on its head putting it on a path that leads to development, prosperity and overnight success. Some of us want to do it by taking to the streets, some are still exploring avenues and platforms from where they can create ‘impact’, others are thinking why this country isn’t changing despite their utmost efforts put in the drawing room discussions that they so regularly become part of. But have we thought of starting to make a difference by taking small steps instead of huge lunges.

If asked, ‘Do you want change?’ Most of us will say, ‘Yes!’

But if we are asked, ‘Do YOU want to change?’ We will not be so quick in responding in the affirmative.

Do we think about starting from ourselves and mending our own ways by dealing with the minor infractions and habits that we’ve become so accustomed to in our daily lives? Take it from me, a societal change is only possible when all pieces that constitute the society are in place and coherently moving in the right direction. Those pieces are us, the citizens of this country and members of the society.

change

So, let’s start from ourselves and start making a difference by:

  1. Being punctual to work
  2. Giving way to others on the road
  3. Respecting & following the traffic signals
  4. Accepting your mistake and saying ‘Sorry’
  5. Turning off the water tap while brushing teeth
  6. Carpooling wherever possible
  7. Exchanging gifts with colleagues, friends & family
  8. Praising your spouse
  9. Learning to say ‘Thank you’
  10. Turning off the AC & lights when leaving the room
  11. Doing regular ‘Sadqah’
  12. Spending time with your parents
  13. Appreciating your co-workers
  14. Stop saying ‘this is not my job’
  15. Saying hello to old friends
  16. Stop backbiting other people
  17. Starting to think from the other person’s perspective rather than your own every time
  18. Minding your own business when you’re required to
  19. Keeping your tongue in control and refrain from hurting others
  20. Being honest yet respectful towards others
  21. Accepting others for who they are
  22. Not wasting food
  23. Sending food platters to neighbors
  24. Stop procrastinating, especially at work
  25. Being thankful to ALLAH for all that He’s given you

These are just 25 of the hundreds of small but good deeds that have an impact that spreads like a fission chain reaction. Revolutions start from individuals and unless we become that what we expect our society to become, nothing is going to change.

Think about it!

Hammad A. Mateen

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الفاظ عرف شاعری

kisi-yaad-mein

Letter of Resignation

Jobs these days they say are hard to find and once you’ve found one, it is recommended that you hold on to it like you’re holding on for your dear life. People do all kinds of things to keep their jobs. From playing politics to licking the boss’s boots and from lobbying to seduction, there’s a lot that goes on at workplaces.

But what are the factors that lead to someone finally deciding to part ways from an organization or resign from a job?

In the light of my limited professional exposure, I would like to share with you the 3 most important factors that help you decide whether you stay with your current employer or not.

Here they are:

Your Boss:

Your relationship with the person to whom you report to is undoubtedly important. Apart from the fact that this is the person who would eventually be rating you for your performance at the end of the year, this relationship holds immense significance when it comes to you being motivated enough to perform at your best on a daily basis. I’ve seen examples where bosses have led from the front and become inspiration for their teams and team members work towards achieving boss-mugbigger and better results each and every time and even look up to and aspire to be like their boss one day. Examples where bosses become mentors and teachers and train you to take their position. In such cases, bosses and subordinates make vertical progress in organizations together in a clean, productive manner.

I’ve also seen examples where bosses become so insecure of their own team members that they start feeling threatened with respect to their own jobs. This leads to them putting their personal interests in front of organizational goals defying principles of leadership. Such bosses end up pulling down their own team members and exposing them in front of others in order to get rid of them.

Another scenario is when your boss just won’t like you. No matter what you do and how well you perform at work, this person would never be impressed simply because he does not like you. This may be because of your skin color, ethnicity, the neighborhood from where you come from, gender (in many cases), personal, educational or professional background or the car in which you come to work daily. It can be anything. And unless he/ she doesn’t get you replaced by someone of his/ her choice, things are not likely to get better.

Your Team:

Your team comprises of both your peers and your subordinates at the workplace. To say that your team is your 2nd family wouldn’t be wrong by any means as you end up spending more time with them in the week than your people at home. Family harmony here is also as critically important as it is in case of your first family. One needs to be unperturbed mentally in order to perform his/ her duties efficiently at work and the team plays an important role in that. team

Teams can make life both easy and difficult for you and even have an impact on your future at the organization. If all goes well, teams inspire you and help bring out the best in you by moving together and helping each other out enabling both performance and learning at the same time. Good teams comprise of members who are active, positive, passionate and ever ready to support other members.

On the other hand, teams that do not work in a well-coordinated manner often end up getting you in a quagmire, escape from which can become both stressful and challenging. Office politics is to organizations as rice is to biryani. Teams contaminated with politics in excess amounts though result in tense working environments that are hazardous for both individuals and organizations as most of the energies are spent in achieving short term negative goals. The situation at times becomes so bad that stepping into the office feels like entering a swamp where each step needs to be taken while being careful of not being eaten up by crocodiles and alligators.

Your Salary:

Whatever anybody says about their intentions of joining an organization in the capacity of an employee, one cannot deny the importance of their salary. That, at the end of the day is the main reason why people step out of their homes to work in the first place (unless your Dad owns the organization or you are sufficiently rich already and are only looking for a time pass).

Pay checks act as a monthly fuel to your engine and keep you going and if paid well may also serve as a motivation. For some, pay checks are the only reason why they keep sticking to a particular job. This of course requires one to have either succumbed to domestic responsibilities and demands or to have had a severe dip in self-esteem. Whichever way one looks at it, salary is undeniably an important factor. When I talk about salary, I intend to cover the complete perks and benefits also associated with it.

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The Combinations:

Considering the above mentioned factors and their significance, the decision to either stay in a job or move on has a lot to do with them. In my humble opinion, a combination of any 2 factors out of the 3 is sufficient enough for one to decide his/ her future with an organization.

Let’s elaborate the combinations:

Boss & Team:

Salary, not matter how good it is, matters the least when both your boss and your team are after your life and every day at work seems like spending 8 hours in hell with a lunch break included. What do you do? Either give your self-esteem a tranquilizer every day and come to work only thinking that you’ve sold it for an amount transferred to your account on a monthly basis called ‘Salary’, or you take a decision and start googling ‘sample resignation letters’.

Boss & Salary:

There’s no good in having a supportive bunch of sub-ordinates and colleagues around when your boss doesn’t appreciate your work and instead keeps pulling you down all the time. The decision to part ways with your current organization may come very easy to you in case you aren’t paid well there either. Of course, your boss won’t be much of an assistance in giving you a raise so there’s no point sticking around hoping that your team will submit a signed petition asking the organization to change your boss and giving you a raise.

Salary & Team:

Any professional boss will only be good with you until you keep producing the desired results. No matter how good your relationship is with your boss, your bonding with the team is something that will eventually get you results. A good boss and a supportive team may help you overcome your woes regarding you being overworked or underpaid. But a bad team and a low salary is not something that a boss can help you out with very effectively. Especially when a raise in salary depends upon the results you produce working along the very team that will do everything it can to make sure you are seen in bad light.

Disclaimer:

The factors and combinations mentioned in this piece are strictly based on my personal observations and professional experience and does not compel readers to agree with them. These of course are exclusive of factors and circumstances that involve unethical incidents, wrongdoings, misconducts or compromising on principles in either of which case neither of the above mentioned combinations or factors may necessarily be applicable and it will come down to an individual’s values, judgement and the strength to take a decision.

Hammad A. Mateen

King Misbah: The Crisis Man for Pakistan Cricket

He’s made Pakistan cricket boring. They’ve become predictably consistent with their performances under his leadership. The flamboyance that rode on erraticism is somehow missing from the test team now. They have started playing methodically and there seems to be a plan and a strategy being followed in each game and for each situation. Misbah-ul-Haq has changed the way test cricket is played by Pakistan.

The captain of the no.1 test team in the world did not always enjoy running on a smooth terrain though. It has continuously been a steep climb for Misbah with relentless hard work and thankless persistence.  The Misbah that we so conceitedly cheer for now was once the most ridiculed sportsman of this country. He is the hero of a story that only unfolded nearing its end revealing its protagonist. He’s that survivor on a sinking ship who not only makes it himself but also rescues hundreds of others only to be recognized after they’ve made it to the shore. His is a tale of someone standing up every single time after being repeatedly knocked down to the floor by the world. Misbah-ul-Haq is the unsung champion of Pakistan cricket. It is about time we look back at this great sportsman’s journey.

After making his first class debut back in 1998-99, Misbah had to wait till 2001 to make his international test debut and till another year after that (2002) to feature in his first ODI match, both against New Zealand. His entry into international cricket wasn’t one that could guarantee him a permanent place in the side though and we kept on getting glimpses of Misbah every now and then in the team after that. He wasn’t a regular in the side until 2010. Interestingly, during that time Misbah was not selected to play a single international match in any format of the game for Pakistan between 2004 and 2007. Even in 2004, he was selected to play only one ODI.

It was the inaugural T20 cricket world cup back in 2007 however that made Misbah-ul-Haq a name known to everyone across the cricketing world. Only that it wasn’t the way Misbah would’ve liked himself to be made famous. That famous paddle scoop in the last over of the final against India ruined everything that had happened before that. Misbah averaged an outstanding 54.50 in the 7 matches that he featured in with 3 not outs and 2 fifties. All these runs came at a strike rate of nearly 140 runs per 100 balls. Even in the final match, Misbah walked in to bat with Pakistan 4 down for 65. It was from there till the 3rd ball of the 19th over that Misbah stood like a rock in front of the Indian bowling line and scored crucial 43 runs off 38 balls hitting 4 massive sixers. Sadly, none of that has frequently been recalled and the only thing Misbah had been made famous for was that last shot.

misbah-3

As far as T20 Internationals are concerned, what many people do not know is that Misbah-ul-Haq till date ranks number 1 as far as batting average is concerned. Misbah averages 37.52 in the 39 T20Is he has played for Pakistan with a strike rate of 110.20. On the domestic front, he captains Islamabad United in the Pakistan Super League which is also incidentally the current champion there.

When it comes to ODIs, Misbah is disreputably remembered for his slow batting in the Semi Final of the World Cup 2011 played against India which Pakistan lost. He was given the title of ‘Tuc Tuc’ following that innings and all blame was put on his shoulders for the team’s loss and exit from the mega event.  What critics tend to ignore though is the contribution this prolific batsman made for Pakistan towards reaching the Semi Final of the tournament in the first place. Misbah, with 3 fifties in the 6 innings that he played in the tournament was the highest run scorer for Pakistan averaging a marvelous 49.60 runs per innings.

He has also captained Pakistan in ODIs. His captaincy record in the 50 over format may not be as decorated as other successful captains of the world, but some of the notable accomplishments there include becoming the 1st (and till date only) captain from a South Asian touring side to lead his side to victory in an ODI series against South Africa in South Africa. This happened in 2013 just one year after Misbah lifted the Asia Cup for Pakistan (for the 2nd time after 12 years) at the Sher-e-Bangla Cricket Stadium at Mirpur, Bangladesh.

Coming back to 2010, when Pakistan cricket was arguably at its lowest after the spot fixing scandal, Misbah was given the responsibility to lead Pakistan in tests. Pakistan ranked 6th in the ICC Test rankings at that time. It was from there that Misbah-ul-Haq, in his own cerebral way started his journey as a leader to make Pakistan top the rankings for the first time this year. Misbah so far as led Pakistan in 46 test matches. Pakistan has won 22 out of these 46 test matches with a winning percentage of 47.82 and a losing percentage of only 28.26 making him the most successful test captain for Pakistan till date.

As a batsman he has proved to be a sportsman who blossoms with respect to his individual performances once given the additional responsibility of leading his side. In the 65 test matches that he has played so far for Pakistan, Misbah averages 33.60 as a batsman in games where he has played as a batsman only. The average however rises to an astounding 54.93 in the 46 games in which he has captained Pakistan.

He holds the record for the fastest test fifty (off 21 balls only) and is 2nd in the list for the fastest hundred in test cricket (off 56 balls only) sharing the spot with the great Sir Viv Richards only behind New Zealand’s Brendon McCullum who achieved this record in just 54 balls against the Aussies. Incidentally, Misbah also slaughtered the Aussies for both his fastest century and fifty.

As a captain, he was named as the ‘Best Test Captain of the Year 2015’ by The Daily Telegraph and no eyebrows were raised when this was announced. Misbah was called ‘One of the great captains- ever’ by the renowned British newspaper.

All that with not a single test match in which Misbah could have the opportunity to lead Pakistan on Pakistani soil. Pretty much sums up how increasingly difficult it would have been for him to take over a side that is under the microscope for all the wrong reasons and is not even blessed with the luxury of performing in front of its home crowd.

Misbah-ul-Haq is no Imran Khan, he’s neither Shahid Afridi nor Wasim Akram. He’s probably someone like Inzamam-ul-Haq if you must compare. But even in that comparison he’s not as naturally gifted as Inzamam was. Come to think of it, Misbah-ul-Haq is just Misbah-ul-Haq. His tenacity, strength of will, mental & physical fitness and extraordinary leadership skills make him stand out from the crowd.

This piece is not just my admiration for Misbah-ul-Haq’s prodigious services for this country but is also a humble effort to make amende honorable to the great man for all the disrespect this nation has shown towards him. He’s a legend and I most genuinely hope he gets one of the most respectful farewells this country has ever scene for a sportsman retiring from his game.

-Hammad A. Mateen

Who will pay the ‘Qisaas’ of those who died yesterday?

While the country was busy in the Ehtesaab Rally and the Qisaas March, an innocent kid and a lady lost their lives in Lahore and Rawalpindi yesterday as both of the deceased could not reach the hospital on time for their lives to be saved. A few months back, another little angel was sent back to the heavens in her father’s arms in Karachi when Baby Bhutto’s protocol denied Bisma’s parents’ entry to Civil Hospital where Bilawal was inaugurating a Trauma Center; an inauguration indeed that came with a trauma for Faisal Mohammad Hussain (Bisma’s father) and his family. These are just 3 of the many deaths on roads, in ambulances and rickshaws this country has seen over the past so many years where politics, politicians and the elite of this country have cost the common man their lives. The very common man that makes them what they are through filling ballot boxes with votes for them for which they come begging to their doors before elections. The very common man that speaks in their favor in countless debates at roadside hotels, barber shops, meat markets and the social media without having met them even once in their lives. I wonder who will be held accountable (whose ehtesaab will be carried out) for yesterday’s deaths and who will pay the Qisaas?

I am all for fighting against corruption and bringing back the country’s looted money to where it belongs, but while we are at it, we also need to learn a few more things from the very nations that we aspire to become one day. That goes for both the ruling parties and those in opposition. This also implies to the bureaucracy in the country. Most importantly, this also holds true for the common man themselves.

Saying no to VIP culture is the ‘in’ thing these days. We see people taking out their cell phones and recording videos of such incidents and posting them online. Some of them have gone viral as well. But are we as a nation mentally sold to the idea of eliminating a VIP culture that also includes us? Are we aware and conscious of the fact that at some level and in some cases we may also be the VIPs ourselves and that while shouting out a ‘Say no to VIP culture’ slogan, we may actually be acting a little hypocritical . You see whenever we talk about a ‘No VIP’ culture, we’re generally talking about those who we consider VIPs and the influential strata of the society. What we tend to forget very easily is the level to which this disease has already spread. This includes, going to banks for payments and asking a friend who works over there to relieve us from the hassle of standing in a queue. This also involves people driving cars considering those on motorbikes inferior and therefore not important enough to be given way on the road. These are examples where we, the common people and citizens of this country take pride in breaking the rules and feeling special.

Generally, the fight against VIP Culture is more out of us being jealous than anything else. We have trouble seeing others being given VIP treatment while deep down inside we hanker ourselves to be treated the same way and whenever we get the slightest of chance of to do that, we make sure we do not let go of it.

So the next time you say ‘No to VIP culture’, make sure you believe in it and are ready to implement it in your own lives as well.

VIP-Movement

Make way! Important people are passing. Photo Courtesy: Insider.pk

As far as the elite of our society go, I completely understand the security situation of the country and also realize how valuable your lives are in comparison to a normal person walking on the streets. After all, you are the people who work day and night to protect, serve and lead us towards a brighter, better future. Despite all my understanding and the trust that I have in you no matter how contrasting the on-ground reality is, I’m still not comfortable watching people losing their lives just because you were busy working towards their well-being. You can do your Dharnas and Jalsas and Rallies and the common man will continue to keep filling stadia and flooding the roads but just give a little consideration towards not hampering the routine life of the same common man; the cobbler on the roadside who all of a sudden finds himself in the way of the rally, the ambulance on the way to the hospital with a patient in critical condition that is stuck either due to your VIP movement or road blockages, or the fruit vendor who earns only enough in a day to survive the next day and has to shut down his business as he is seen to be a potential security threat for the Jalsa. These are the people who only get negatively impacted from the positivity that you wish to spread through your actions.

Societies that we look up to and desire to be like uphold, promote, and practice equality, diversity and inclusion at all levels. This is something that demands equal amount of effort and seriousness from all stakeholders including government, opposition, bureaucracy, civil society and general public. Those who lead and those who follow need to accept the same set of rules and decide once and for all not to compromise on principles.

After all, those who block the traffic for VIP movements or place obstacles on the roads are also part of the same society from which both the ones for whom the traffic is blocked and those who suffer due to it belong.

Let’s start from ourselves and mend our ways. Take small steps but all in the right direction.

-Hammad A. Mateen

No, Misbah is not the solution

The pounding taken by the Pakistan team in last night’s ODI against England didn’t come as a surprise for me. I mean it was a team currently ranked 9 playing against a side that is no. 5 in the world. The difference was there to be seen on the field. England outclassed Pakistan like they have been doing throughout the ODI series so far in every department. They’ve been good in the field, exceptional with the bat and much better than us whenever they’ve come on to bowl. Apart from all the records that tumbled yesterday, truth be told, Pakistan has been playing ODI cricket in a pretty similar fashion over the last 2 years. In the last 24 months, Pakistan has played 41 ODIs winning only 15 out of them (a winning percentage of 36.5) out of which 8 victories came against sides like Ireland, UAE and Zimbabwe. These stats tell a sad but true story of how the men in green have gone about their business in the 50 over format of the game in recent times. Pakistan will probably end up playing the qualifying round for the 2019 world cup this time and by the look of things, they may have to pull up their socks there as well.

Having said that, I am not very pleased with the negative comments that the social media is being flooded with regarding the team. People have started questioning Mickey Arthur’s coaching and the PCB management for their decision making. This is the same PCB that manages the no. 1 test team in the world and the same Mickey Arthur is given charge of Misbah XI as their coach. What we need to understand here is the nature of both (or even 3) formats of the game. There’s been a lot of talk doing the rounds of asking Misbah to come back to the ODIs and turn around the team’s fortune. I disagree with this notion based on the difference in the nature of Test & ODI cricket. Even under Mishab’s leadership in ODIs over the last 2 years, Pakistan had won on 5 out of 13 ODIs (38% matches won). Compare that with Azhar’s captaincy and you’ll find that he has led Pakistan to victory in 8 out of the 23 ODIs in which he has captained the side (35% watches won). Not a lot of difference there, is it?

M&A

The difference however can very clearly be seen when it comes to comparing individual performances of Misbah and Azhar in matches where they’ve captained the side and in those where they’ve played under other captains. Misbah has excelled with respect to his individual performances when leading the side while Azhar’s batting average has taken a dip since he’s taken over the captaincy. This is not a good sign for any international player and indicates (in a way) that the added responsibility of leadership is hampering the athlete’s individual performance. Even greats like Sachin Tendulkar have had performance issues when they also had to think about leading the whole pack on the field. Misbah is definitely as exception. However, it all comes down to match results and that is where he has been not too different from Azhar. Going back to Misbah would also mean repeating the history of sports in Pakistan where legends like Miandad, Jansher Khan and Shahbaz Ahmad (Sr.) have been recalled to rejuvenate their respective sports in the country ending up in only making a mockery out of these greats instead. I’d rather keep Misbah where he is and salute him for what he’s doing for Pakistan in the toughest and most original format of the game.

Let’s talk about Sarfaraz now. Sarfaraz has only led Pakistan once in ODI matches and that too was against Zimbabwe back in October last year. A low scoring match which Pakistan won by 7 wickets. Other than that, we have only seen him captain the Quetta Gladiators in the inaugural edition of the PSL early this year where he did pretty well as a captain but with a team that was loaded with talented superstars like Kevin Pietersen, Luke Wright & the great Kumar Sangakkara. For me, Sarfaraz may be the right choice to captain Pakistan in the ODIs but that is more out of my admiration for his talent and passion than any of his proven leadership skills.

Wherever the on-going series against England (which is already lost) goes from here, one thing is for sure, the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) will have to take serious steps and start working towards lifting this side up again. The inversely proportional performances and ratings of the Test and ODI sides do not reflect well on the overall condition of the game that is being played and managed in the country today. Experimenting with fresh blood is always something that sides do in order to build bench strength. However that need to be done in a controlled manner and not in a way such as where Nawaz and Hassan Ali are brought into the side and are straight away thrown to the dogs. This will only hamper their confidence and ruin their game for the rest of their careers.

Small but concrete steps need to be taken to lift up the side. The nation needs to stand behind the team when the side is sailing through rough waters. These are difficult times but with the talent and potential this country has, we will inshaALLAH emerge as champions again just like we’ve come to the top as the best test team in the world.

Here’s a little trivia for you all as I conclude this piece: On the same social media, ‘King Misbah’ was once ‘Tuk Tuk’ and the most ridiculed sportsman of the country.

Hammad A. Mateen