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Cricket: Butt and Miandad square off

Butt and Miandad square offThe ongoing matter of Javed Miandad's resignation as director-general of the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) took an ugly turn at a senate hearing as the board chairman and Miandad traded allegations over the fiasco. Ijaz Butt admitted to the senate standing committee on sports that he had made a mistake in not settling terms and conditions with Miandad when he joined, but refused to apologise to the former captain, who was also present at the session.

Instead Butt levelled a number of allegations at Miandad, claiming he wanted more money, that he interfered with selectorial matters and that he wasn't a capable administrator. Miandad, visibly upset, denied the charges, claiming he would work on an honorary basis for the board if others did likewise.

The issue of Miandad's resignation had been brewing steadily in recent weeks and last week, senators decided to to get to the bottom of the matter, issuing summons to Miandad to appear. In a heated discussion, senators grilled the PCB chief over every little detail of Miandad's hiring and eventual refusal of a contract. Miandad joined the board in November as director-general, though there was ambiguity over the nature of his role even then. He quit last month, after finally being offered a contract, the terms of which he wasn't happy with.

In particular, Miandad claimed that the nature of his role in the contract letter was significantly reduced from what he had initially discussed with the chairman. That, and not the salary, was what made him change his mind.

Butt did admit there were 'procedural flaws' in the appointment of Miandad, leaving senators aghast that such an established figure was working at such a senior post without any letter of appointment or contract or indeed terms of reference for the post. "I admit it was our mistake as we didn't sign a contract with Miandad when he was appointed as DG in December," Butt said.

Butt also claimed that Miandad was interfering in selecting the national team and had asked for a salary of 1.6 million rupees ($20,000) as opposed to the 500,000 rupees ($6,300) offered in the contract. "Miandad asked for a salary which we could not give to him," Butt said. "I regard Miandad highly as a great cricketer but we can't pay him more than what we had offered him."

But what must have irked Miandad the most - particularly given how close he always said he was to Butt - was Butt's belief that he wasn't a capable administrator. "I have the utmost respect for him as a cricketer and his achievements but he's not capable of handling either financial of administrative matters of the PCB," Butt said.

Miandad's claims that it was the role and not the money which was a problem were lent solid credibility when he produced an internal board memo circulated on December 4 last year. The memo, with Butt's consent on it, makes various board directors, of game development, international cricket operations, domestic cricket operations, the national team coach, manager and chairmen of national junior and senior selection committees all answerable to Miandad. The message, at that point, seemed clear: Miandad was to be in charge of almost all cricket affairs.

But when the contract was offered to him, Miandad was made head of domestic cricket operations and the department of game development only. "This job could be done by anyone and I feel it was not what I was actually promised by Mr. Butt," Miandad said.

Miandad also said he didn't take any money from the board in his two-and-a-half month stint and was now even willing to work on an honorary basis - provided other PCB officials did likewise.

The senators, mostly bewildered that such a situation could even arise, initially pressured Butt to apologise for the humiliation they perceived to have been heaped upon Miandad. Butt stood his ground and refused to do so, thus leading the chairman of the committee to suggest they both sit down together privately and sort out the matter.

"We believe that if you both could work together for the betterment of the game it will be good for Pakistan, so it's better you should sit together and resolve this issue privately," committee chairman Zafar Iqbal said.

Before the meeting, rumour had it that Miandad may well find his way back into the board at a post he was happier with. After today's mudslinging, that scenario has become less likely.

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