Former Pakistan captain and SNGPL player Misbah-ul-Haq has lashed out at Pakistan Cricket Board over poor facilities at Lahore City Cricket Association’s (LCCA) ground that is hosting Lahore Whites’ first match against Sui Northern Gas Pipeline Limited (SNGPL) in the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy, Pakistan’s premier first-class tournament.
Misbah took to Twitter and posted a video showing the dirty and lousy facilities in the dressing room of the players.
“This is not a storeroom. This is LCCA ground's dressing room currently hosting first-class match between SNGPL and Lahore Whites. Six Test players are playing in this match. I think players deserve better than this. Outfield and pitch are also not encouraging for cricket,” Misbah tweeted.
This is not a storeroom.This is LCCA ground's dressing room currently hosting first class match between SNGPL&Lahore whites.Six test players are playing in this match.I think players deserve better than this.Outfield and pitch is also not encouraging for cricket. pic.twitter.com/xpJ8RMSkkF— Misbah Ul Haq (@captainmisbahpk) September 2, 2018
“If we want to improve the standards of first-class cricket PCB should take notice of this and don't let this happen. Imagine around 20 people in this room with lonely fan in this heat and a sluggish outfield,” he added.
If we want to improve the standards of first class cricket PCB should take notice of this and don't let this happen.Imagine around 20 people in this room with lonely fan in this heat and a sluggish outfield.— Misbah Ul Haq (@captainmisbahpk) September 2, 2018
The six Test players in SNGPL’s team Misbah mentioned are Mohammad Rizwan, Yasir Shah, Asad Shafiq, Rahat Ali, Bilawal Bhatti and Iftikhar Ahmed whereas another one, Usman Salahuddin, is playing for Lahore Whites.
Misbah is not playing himself in the ongoing match but he is part of the SNGPL squad and likely to play the 50 overs game against the same opponents at the same venue on Thursday. He will also be playing in selected four-day matches in the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy.
Misbah is a reluctant tweeter and generally uses the App only when he has some serious thoughts to share. He has been vocal against the facilities given to players in the domestic cricket in the past too but it is the first time he has taken such a harsh stance. Another reason behind publicly highlighting the plight of the players could be he is no longer a contracted player and fears a ban, fine or show-cause notice.
Many other players are unhappy with the facilities and the scheduling of the tournament as well but their contracts don’t allow them to share such thoughts in the media.
There is no dearth of funds in PCB’s kitty. The board this year set a budget of Rs916.36 million for domestic cricket which is 90 percent more than the previous year but looking at the facilities at the venue that falls in catchment of the PCB headquarters in Lahore and shares a wall with the National Cricket Academy where the officials sit in mahogany chairs and well air-conditioned rooms to make decisions on the domestic cricket, it is hard to guess where the money is being spent.
The PCB officials have never compromised on their own facilities and lifestyles. They draw lucrative salaries and are paid heavy travelling allowances ranging from 25,000 to 40,000 Rupees per day. One would be forgiven to think it would need only an official’s weeks allowance to renovate, or at least paint, a dressing room as bad as LCCA’s.
Some would baulk at saying it is the responsibility of the region to take care of the facilities at the venues but PCB as the organisers of the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy need to make sure the grounds are eligible to host first-class cricket and have adequate facilities for the players. If not, the venues either should be stripped of hosting rights or subsidised by the PCB.
The players are also not happy with the scheduling of the tournament. Umar Gul, the Pakistan and Habib Bank Limited (HBL) fast bowler, fainted on the opening day of the tournament due to extremely hot conditions in Islamabad. He bowled only 9 out of 82 overs in the first innings against Islamabad after having taken three wickets in the first spell.
Many other HBL players developed headaches due to heat in the practice sessions before the tournament began on September 1. The domestic season this year has started a month earlier. Generally, it kicks off in the first week of October, when the temperatures have gone down.
With the country and its cricket board set to undergo a sea-change in the coming weeks due to the new government headed by Pakistan’s most eminent cricketer Imran Khan, one can hope that the players will soon be provided with better facilities and won’t need to go on Twitter to highlight their problems.