"Asif and Butt Should Never be Allowed to Come Back to Pakistani Cricket": Tauqir Zia


PakPassion Administrator
Staff member
Oct 2, 2004
Lt. Gen (R) Tauqir Zia was appointed as the Chairman of the PCB in December 1999 and duly tasked with the implementation of the now famous Qayyum commission report. Inheriting a team of Pakistan's most well known players, Zia had to overcome many challenges to his management but amongst the positives were his Vision 2005 program and the fact that at the time of his departure almost 4 years after his appointment, Pakistan were rated No 2 in ODIs and No 3 in Test matches.

In an exclusive interview with PakPassion.net, Zia spoke of his achievements, the fallout of the Qayyum commission report and its relevance to issues of today, his views on Shoaib Akhtar and his recommendations for improvement of Pakistani cricket.

PakPassion.net: You had a predominantly successful tenure as chairman of the Pakistan Cricket Board. What do you consider to be your most significant achievements?

Tauqir Zia: I think the reason for the success was simply that whatever job you take, you have to try to bring your viewpoint. Number one, when you take a job, even if you are a General in the army you have to sit down and first think about what you have to do.

So the first thing that I did was to ensure that I have a wish for running the Pakistan Cricket Board and also to not only think of the present, but also of the mid term and the future and I thought that vision of mine probably helped me a lot, and the team I got to run that vision very good - at least they were very good at their work.

Number two, when I arrived on the scene, I actually got help from the army and got them to put all the records of the cricket board into proper perspective. Everything was available and I put it in order.

The third thing was that the players were not only stars, they were superstars. At least seven of them, like Wasim, Inzamam, Saeed Anwar, Moin, Afridi - they were all there. It was obviously very difficult to deal with them, but my training in the Pakistan army was to train hundreds of people. So I thought they are like my children, I would treat them like my children but wherever I had to enforce discipline I would do that. Everybody cooperated and I didn't have any problems.

PakPassion.net: What would you say was your biggest success during your chairmanship. Obviously the implementation of the academies is still to this day very important for Pakistan cricket, would you say that was your biggest success?

Tauqir Zia:
Frankly speaking, I never paid attention to each of my achievements because I thought that if I am a good chairman then I should do everything for the good of my organization. One must remember and I’d like to put the whole thing on record, at that particular point I was handed 4 different appointments. I was also the army chief commander during the escalation period against India – I was to fight the war against India if war was to come. In addition, I also had my own job as Corps Commander of Mangla and then chairman of the cricket board and then one more assignment. So out of the four, I could only give 25% to Pakistan Cricket Board and I used to come home in the evening and sometimes work the whole night and work on the weekends on behalf of Pakistan cricket.

I can count some successes, well not myself but my team, and the team I had. The first was that I clearly defined the duties of everybody, to ensure nobody was to interfere in anybody else's job. Number two was of course in my vision I had planned about 90 grounds in my vision 2005 program and when I left in 2003 I had already laid 67 grounds all over Pakistan.

The third response, which was my own brainchild, was the National Cricket Academy and also the regional academies. The National Cricket Academy in Lahore was made and frankly speaking I’m very happy and proud to say that when the English players or the Australian players came and saw the academy they said that at that time this was probably one of the best academies in the world. Lastly, at the time when I left, Pakistan team was number two in the ODIs and number three in the test rankings back then.

PakPassion.net: The academies were a very good idea, do you think that implementation should been carried further by the Pakistan Cricket Board. Should there be more academies around Pakistan rather than just a few?

Tauqir Zia:
I had actually planned this - at that time there were many regions and I had planned eight academies in the regions and one national academy in Lahore which was also to be considered a regional academy. The plan was made with Mudassar Nazar and Rameez Raja - I think my successors didn’t understand the concept of running an academy and probably didn’t put it to full use. The result is that I don't think the academy is in full use even today, except for one aspect of my vision which was training of the coaches.

We don’t have many coaches in Pakistan, our teams are without coaches - that is the only thing that they carried later on. On the whole I don’t think they understood the concept of an academy.

PakPassion.net: Domestic cricket in Pakistan, many people have their opinions on whether it should be just based on departmental or regions. What are your thoughts on the structure of Pakistan’s domestic cricket?

Tauqir Zia:
I would say the basic structure is fine and when people have been given a chance, most of them have gone to departments. I would say look at the contribution of the departments. I think whatever you have to use are all the products of the departments or they’re produced by the club.

In my days, whenever I used to call ex players and officials for meetings, the only players who did not always attend were Imran Khan and Majid Jahangir Khan – most others cricketers used to attend. I would say ‘ok let me know what can be done about domestic cricket? How can we improve that? ’. So my only take on this would be that with any system, it is the implementation itself which counts, regardless of the intentions. If I'm the implementer and I am not sincere in my domestic cricket obviously no system would ever work, so I think the basic flaw is that we don’t have very good implementation of domestic cricket.

PakPassion.net: You spoke about player power and superstars earlier in the interview, do you think that player power is still prevalent in Pakistan cricket, or do you think that is now being curbed?

Tauqir Zia:
Let us define player power. Take an example of family life. If the children are denied their rights by the parents, then they will be angry and express their views – that is to be expected. In the world of cricket, players asking for rights is not an example of “player power” but, what I would call player power is when there is a revolt. If there is no revolt then that is not an example of player power. I would say that you must look after the needs of the player who may have problems.

Recently we had central contract problems with some of the players, the people started to talk of player power. I don't think this is player power, they are fighting for their rights, the cricket board chairman has to agree or disagree. If he disagrees, and the players say they're not going to go and play the chairman can say thank you very much, now get out.

However, if you (as management) agree to player terms due to their threats then that is an example of player power. Having said all that, at the moment, I don’t think the player community is that strong in Pakistan that they will take the board for a ride or make unreasonable demands.

PakPassion.net.net: The 2003 World Cup during your tenure was a very disappointing event for Pakistan. A lot of experienced players went there and the team flopped. After that a lot of the senior players were removed from the team. Looking back, do you think it was the right decision to get rid of so many of those experienced players?

Tauqir Zia:
The first time I thought of removing the players was when I initially took over and when there was the Qayyum Commission Report. I took over in December 1999 and the Qayyum Report came to me in April-May 2000. So I had just spent about 4-5 months by then. When I looked at the report, I thought of removing all the offending players from Pakistan cricket. I went to the President of Pakistan to say “look, I do not know much about Pakistan cricket because I’ve just worked there for three or four months. If you ask me, I’d like to get rid of all these characters.” The practical man that he was, he asked ‘do you have the backup squad?’

At that time, I didn’t have a backup squad so most of them were called straight back. But since there was also only suspicion on some of those players, they were not proven. Throughout my tenure, I had been harping on this aspect that I must have youngsters as backup of the team on a regular basis. It should not be the case that a senior player retires and we do not know who to pick in place of him. Therefore, we should build academies to train a man now, so he can easily take over when a senior player goes away. This is what I did when the senior players returned after, as you put it, a very disappointing performance in the 2003 World Cup. When we put the new players in with a new leader, look at the turnaround – I think they were very good. And this is what the cricket board is doing today, although not exactly to my liking.

PakPassion.net: Regarding the Qayyum Report, some people say because those players were treated leniently, it has resulted in the 2010 spot-fixing scandal. If those players had been dealt with harshly, then may be Salman Butt, Mohammad Amir and Asif would not have got involved in this. Your thoughts on that?

Tauqir Zia:
I think obviously there are people who would criticise. As they say in Punjabi “People will find faults in whatever you do!” There are two things about it. Firstly, there was only suspicion – there was nothing concrete about any player. All the recommendations and leniency were shown by the commission, not by the cricket board. The fact is that 99.9 per cent of the recommendations of the Qayyum Commission were implemented in my time.

One recommendation that was not implemented was that they had suggested that at least three people should visit with the team and look after the security aspect. At that particular point in time, the ICC had already made the anti-corruption (ACSU) unit with Lord Condon as their boss, so there was no point in getting on with it. Therefore, if you disregard this recommendation due to reasons explained above, hundred per cent of the recommendations were implemented.

Secondly, as far as 2010 is concerned, there was a difference with the issues in 1994/5. To be clear there are 3 types of corruption issues. There is match fixing, sport fixing and fancy fixing. Today, I do not think you really have many examples of match-fixing but you do have examples of spot-fixing or fancy fixing. So Amir, Asif and Salman Butt were actually involved in fancy fixing and not in match-fixing.

If an agreed no-ball results in a loss, then that is a separate point and can be regarded as Match fixing. So I personally feel that we would not be able to control it hundred per cent, but if you educate your boys and have proper monitoring and supervision, we can reduce it quite a bit.

PakPassion.net: You supported Shoaib Akhtar quite a lot through his troubles, through his injuries, etc. Your thoughts on Shoaib Akhtar’s cricketing career?

Tauqir Zia:
Shoaib Akhtar is just one player – he is not my relative! To me, all the players who were representing Pakistan and if they have potential and if they are match-winners, then they have to be treated like your own children and they have to be supported.

Shoaib Akhtar just happened to be one of them. I discovered that he was a match-winner. Yes, his habits – you know everybody has got a different psychology. Even in your own house, if you have three children – all of them will have a different psychology. So eleven players had a different psychology and Shoaib Akhtar had a totally different psychology, which I understood. Because of this, I treated him like that. I didn’t treat him well because he was Shoaib Akhtar - I treated him like that because he was a match-winner for Pakistan. Yes, I did quite a bit for him.

PakPassion.net: In 2009, you suggested that he should have retired then. Do you still hold that view or do you think he was right to retire after the 2011 World Cup?

Tauqir Zia:
No, I think Shoaib Akhtar was struggling on many fronts. For a start, I think people did not treat him well - He was not treated the way he should have been treated. Secondly, I think he was actually not receiving proper physical training and he had fitness issues - and obviously he was ageing. In my opinion, he should have retired earlier than when he actully did.

PakPassion.net: The current problems for Pakistan cricket include not being able to play cricket in Pakistan. They seem to be concentrating mainly on playing their matches in the UAE. If you were the Chairman of the cricket board, would you be doing things any differently or do you think they are doing the right thing by playing their matches in the UAE?

Tauqir Zia:
We must remember one thing that players or international cricket not coming to Pakistan is not a fault of the Pakistan Cricket Board. You have to look at the security situation in Pakistan. I think we should look at the situation as it has prevailed, as it is presently, and as it might be tomorrow. I think that is why international cricket is not taking place here.

Yes, there are a few things that are important for successfully organising a tour. One of them is the relationship with the respective boards. I think we did not maintain the kind of relationship with the other boards that we should have.

Secondly, I think when the Sri Lankan team was attacked in Lahore, the Pakistan Cricket Board was equally at fault. The Jurisdiction of Punjab or the government was at fault. But it was not considered the cricket board’s fault. I think they did not take proper security measures – they did not understand the concept of security. That is why it happened – and unfortunately, it happened with Sri Lanka who were actually willing to come to Pakistan at that time.

In my opinion, Zaka Ashraf has done well and therefore, I think I must appreciate. Hopefully, international cricket should come back to Pakistan in a year or two.

PakPassion.net: If you could sit down and have a one to one discussion with the current PCB Chairman Zaka Ashraf, what recommendations would you make to him for his role for the betterment of Pakistan cricket?

Tauqir Zia: He hasn't called me to discuss anything. I am part of the Annual General Meeting – ex-chairmen are honorary members of the Annual General Meeting, so I have attended too, once during the time of Ijaz Butt and once during the current tenure of Zaka Ashraf. He has never asked me for my suggestions - he has never contacted me on cricket matter.

Therefore, I cannot go to him directly to tell him what to do. However, I am able to convey my thoughts and recommendations through the media as in this interview. Through this interview, the first thing I would recommend to him would be to maintain a good relation with all the boards. Secondly, he should clearly define the duties and roles of people at the PCB. In my view, the PCB is overstaffed. Finally, I would suggest having a vision for the players - for today, tomorrow, and day after tomorrow. This is the only way he will leave a legacy for Pakistan cricket and not otherwise. I am sorry to say that I am not in contact with him.

PakPassion.net: You mentioned that when you were PCB Chairman, you had very good men around you supporting you, which included former cricketers that weren't elderly, but still relatively young. Do you think there should be more ex-cricketers and recently retired cricketers involved in the PCB administration?

Tauqir Zia: I do not agree that only a cricketer should be the Chairman of the PCB. However, there are jobs in domestic and international cricket where cricketers should be involved – working for the welfare of cricketers, as coaches, as umpires. Those who have served Pakistan cricket should be looked after. All in all, I don't believe that the PCB needs to be run by an ex-cricketer.

PakPassion.net: We've seen the BCCI recently provide welfare for the ex-cricketers - including those who have served for a long period while others whose service wasn't as extensive. They are all getting financial incentives from the BCCI. Do you think this is something that the PCB should look at?

Tauqir Zia: In my vision 2005 document, I wrote about welfare of cricketers. At that time we had planned that we will give of lot of money to first-class cricketers to the tune of 25,000 – 30,000 PKR per match. Unfortunately, my successor, Mr. Ijaz Butt, reduced this amount to be 5,000 PKR. In my opinion, if you give enough money to your first-class cricketers, they won't be inclined towards match-fixing and spot-fixing because they are being looked after.

The other initiative was the welfare of ex-cricketers. The Board at that time had pension funds in place for legends such as Fazal Mahmood, Hanif Mohammad, and some of the other elderly cricketers. However, I am not sure if this money is being remitted or not. I think we do look after our cuurent and former cricketers, but not to the extent that we should be doing.

PakPassion.net: The three cricketers that were banned - Salman Butt, Mohammed Asif, Mohammad Amir. Do you think the ban for five years was right or should they have been banned for life? Also regarding Mohammad Amir's and rehabilitation, do you think he should be allowed to come back in to cricket?

Tauqir Zia: I have a very strong view on such issues. I believe that anyone involved in any such corruption should not be allowed back into Pakistan cricket at all. As far as Mohammed Amir is concerned, he shouldn't be allowed back either. However, there is one aspect that could allow for some leniency in this whole situation and that is Amir’s age. He is very young and not mentally at that level of maturity and also because Pakistan no longer has the battery of fast bowlers which we once had. Maybe he should be allowed back, once he has served his ban completely. He can start off with domestic cricket and then make his way back to the International team. As for Mohammed Asif and Salman Butt, I don't think they should ever come back to Pakistan cricket.

PakPassion.net: What in your opinion are the two or three most important issues that the current Chairman PCB needs to address?

Tauqir Zia: There are a three things I would say that need to be looked at, the first being the relationship with ICC and their executive boards. During my time, we had a wonderful relationship with them and I would definitely want to build on that.

The second point would be to have our cricketing academies working properly. I had a vision of turning this academy (NCA) into an educational institution by 2012 with the help of Western Australia cricket. Of course that has not taken place. In my plan, instead of our players going to England, South Africa, Australia, it would be coaches from those nations who would come to Pakistan to work with our cricketers. A prime example of this would be the players coming to our academy to be evaluated by a biomechanics experts from overseas.

Lastly, I like to monitor or supervise players that we put in domestic cricket. That way there is no uncertainty or room for a situation arising where money was taken to put anyone in domestic cricket and as a result talent and potential are being wasted.

PakPassion.net: If you were given the opportunity to have a role in Pakistan cricket as a Chairman, an advisor, or any other role, would you be willing to accept that?

Tauqir Zia: I am by no means 'Mr. Know-it-All' and there are many people who can probably do a much better job than me. However, I wouldn’t barge into the Chairman’s office and tell him what to do. With that said, if the government or the PCB gives me a responsibility or ask for advice, I would definitely love to take it on but I would not like to take the initiative myself.

PakPassion.net: Thank you for your time today.

Tauqir Zia: Thanks.
Agree with Tauqir. Also, he seems to be of the view that Aamir shouldn't be allowed either though age may be considered. It's exactly how it should be, 18 is not too young
He seems to talk a lot sense but I put a lot of responsibility on him for the 2010 spot fixing Saga. Had he taken proper steps against those players we would not have to go through the 2010.

Even though he says he looked at both short and long term future of Pakistan, his decision to not do anything against the tainted players from the report mainly based on there was no back up players(debatable) shows the short sightedness on his part. Thanks to that we lost two amazing bowlers in Asif and Aamir.
Tauqir is saying the obvious here
i'm pretty sure musharraf already tried and failed at the whole cutting corruption out of pk thing
This is a fascinating interview and deserves a second read.
Do we have replacement of Amir and Asif after 5 years ?

No we don't have replacement of either one.

So what is the practical answer now by General Retired Tauqir Zia ?

Or he needs to visit the president to change his opinion about Asif ?
Interesting points in this interview
Worth a read if you didn't get the chance.
Tauqir Zia is regarded very highly as a PCB Chairman, it was during his time when the PCB constructed the NCA and took initiatives to bring the PCB towards modernization. However he made mistakes during his tenure as well, he should not have centralized the PCB for one, he should also have taken action against the players mentioned in the Qayyum report.
I find it extraordinary that a person who chose to make his career in an organization with a history like the Pakistan Army feels qualified to express an opinion about the morals of someone else.
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