| THOSE WERE THE DAYS: Imran Khan and Javed Miandad share a light moment
New Delhi: Legendary Pakistan batsman Javed Miandad has squarely blamed his equally illustrious compatriot Imran Khan for hobnobbing with board officials and stripping him of the captaincy.
In his autobiography, The Cutting Edge, which has been making news on account of its controversial contents, Miandad has devoted an entire chapter describing his relationship with Imran. Though he insists they “got along fine”, the very next chapter speaks of how Imran masterminded his removal as Pakistan skipper.
“I don’t know what Imran’s motives were. I can only guess. Perhaps he felt an undisturbed Miandad captaincy would overshadow his legacy... I am only guessing Imran’s motives though I am certain he played an important role in my final ouster from the captaincy,” writes Miandad.
According to the tenacious Karachi cricketer, Imran, who was writing for the English Press when Pakistan toured England in 1992 under his captaincy, “wrote a few pieces where I thought he was trying to disclose our weaknesses and our strategy.... It wasn’t the sort of thing you expected from your immediate past captain”.
At around that time, Imran also threw a party where the entire team barring Miandad, Rameez Raja and Salim Malik were invited.
“I found this strange. Here was a man who just a few months ago was captaining from a lofty perch, unwilling to give the team’s youngsters even the time of day, now he was reaching out to these very same lowly youngsters and inviting them to dinner.
“My guess is that Imran’s efforts were aimed at trying to create an intrigue against my captaincy,” Miandad writes.
Miandad’s bitterness comes through when he says though Pakistan won the 1992 World Cup under Imran, he was not a “universally admired man”. “He was a fine cricket leader and no one doubted that but the players’ patience with his obsession for the hospital fundraising (referring to the cancer hospital put up by Imran in Lahore) had started to wear thin.
“The players had nicknamed him ‘meter’, implying a money counter that was always ticking. Imran was well aware that none of the players was sad to see him go.”
Miandad says Imran’s influence on the board was “still very strong” and he was not quite surprised when he was sacked in January 1993 and Wasim Akram named his successor.
Not one to take things lying down, Miandad recounts that he let top board officials know that he did not agree with Akram’s appointment. “Today you have destroyed Pakistan cricket” was what he claims to have told the then PCB chairman.
“It was not that Akram was not a deserving candidate. He just didn’t deserve the captaincy at that point of time. I felt strongly that I should have continued in the interest of the team’s stability.”
Miandad blames the decision to sack him as one of the reasons for the downfall of Pakistan cricket and its poor performance in the 2003 World Cup.
“I cannot help feeling that if the Pakistan Cricket Board had only listened to me back in 1993 when I pleaded with them not to play around with my captaincy and to let me finish my job, this sorry mess may well have been avoided,” he says.
The prolific batsman, who time and again mentions the hurt he feels when he is criticised in his own country, says the board “emotionally blackmailed” him into playing under Akram’s captaincy.
The 46-year-old Miandad minces no words in exposing the malice of the board officials and selectors towards him in the latter part of his career, in which he accumulated 8832 runs from 124 Tests.
Writing about his experience at a training camp where he was required to prove his fitness to the selectors, he says: “I got padded and gloved, put on a helmet, and got ready to face our bowlers.
“Right from the first delivery, I began facing bouncers — all hostile, ugly and short-pitched. The selectors had apparently given our bowlers a game plan that they hadn’t shared with me. The bowlers — Wasim, Waqar, Aaqib Javed — had difficulty looking me in the eye. It was obvious the selectors had forced them to do this. After the first few bouncers, the bowlers began apologising, but still they kept digging them in short.
“I was incensed, I threw my helmet in a fit of rage and challenged the bowlers to aim for my head. That finally shamed them into improving their length.”