He was the most outspoken chair- man the Pakistan Cricket Board ever had.
In the three years he was at the helm,
Shaharyar Khan brought stability and
freshness to the game in the country.
But, there were many lows too. Those
included the Oval Gate scandal and the
mysterious death of the country’s coach
Bob Woolmer, shortly after Pakistan were
eliminated from the 2007 World Cup.
Khan, who is Pakistan Prime Minister
Nawaz Sharif’s special envoy and Indian
cricket legend Mansur Ali Khan ‘Tiger’
Pataudi’s first cousin, was in New Delhi
recently to release his book Cricket
Cauldron: The Turbulent Politics of Sport
He spoke exclusively to India Abroad.
There is an interesting theory that crick-
et did have an influence in the birth of
The Bombay Pentangular tournament
was perhaps the biggest at that time. It
was like a Test match. The Brabourne stadium (in Mumbai) used to chop full and
you had Hindus playing Parsis, Hindus
playing Muslims, Parsis playing Muslims.
Politicians were against such tournaments. Mahatma Gandhi was against it.
He would say that you can’t have Hindus
versus Muslims matches going on, to
which the Hindu players would say the
riots were on and the Pentangular tournament brought the temperature down; not
a single communal incident took place
during the matches.
The Merchants, Nayudus would say let
us play the matches. For a couple of years,
they fell in line with what Mahatmaji said,
but then they were back in the field and
were winning and making money.
Though many believed it led to the two-nation theory, I don’t think so, because
cricket didn’t have that kind of hold at
At the same time I would say it did have
a minor effect on the masses.
Don’t you think that cricket has always
been the common biding factor between
the two nations. The 2004 tour, for
instance, which, in many ways, was a path-breaking series.
Everyone was skeptical prior to the tour.
Many said there would be incidents and
Security, and even the players, like
Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, Anil
Kumble, seemed unconvinced; they mes-
saged me, saying that their wives were not
allowing them to tour Pakistan.
But after the series they were thrilled.
And guess who came for the Karachi
game? (Congress party vice president)
Rahul Gandhi and (his sister) Priyanka
Gandhi, and they had a whale of a time.
Ask them, and they would tell you that
the atmosphere back there, instead of
being hostile, was extremely friendly.
I remember, when Rahul Dravid was
batting at 99, the entire Pakistani crowd
was on its feet, egging him on to get to his
Imagine a Pakistani crowd wishing an
Indian star batsman to his century. Well,
this was unheard of, but it showed the
Perhaps, Dravid was so surprised that he
got out the next ball.
Then, in the final match of the series in
Lahore, Mohammad Ali Jinnah’s daughter
(Dina Wadia, Bombay Dyeing Chairman
Nusli Wadia’s mother) came to watch the
game as my guest. So, that is why I say the
2004 tour was a path-breaking tour.
Dav Whatmore, who recently quit as
Pakistan’s coach, said language was a
major barrier in communicating with the
players. Bob Woolmer too faced similar
problems. Is it the lack of education among
Yes! It is necessary for us to come face to
face on basic fundamental issues.
Terrorism is one issue; an extreme religious outlook is another.
Then, lack of education. This comes
through in Pakistan cricket more than,
say, Sri Lanka or India.
Although we coach them in academies,
the education level is so low that they find
it difficult to absorb.
Woolmer once came up to me and said
that Imran Farhat and Imran Nazir are
such talented players, but they make the
same errors repeatedly.
They go for the hook and get caught at
the boundary, and international teams are
smart enough to identify that.
Woolmer spoke to them for one hour,
telling them what to do and what not to,
and showed them pictures on his laptop.
Guess what happened next?
In the next match, both were out playing
identical shots — the hook — caught at the
So, if you don’t have basic education, you
will not be able to absorb.
Pakistan cricket, as never
been revealed before!
Shaharyar Khan, former chairman of Pakistan’s cricket board, in conversation with Manu Shankar, opens up on the
infamous Oval Gate, where Pakistan cricket stands today and why India and Pakistan should revive cricketing ties
Rahul Dravid, Anil Kumble,
seemed unconvinced; they
messaged me, saying that
their wives were not allowing
them to tour Pakistan.
Who would come and
play when, perhaps, the
friendliest of nations like
Sri Lanka is being fired upon?
Lack of education comes
through in Pakistan cricket
more than Sri Lanka or
India, says Shaharyar Khan.
PHILIP BROWN/REU TERS