Saturday Oct 12, 2019
The Pakistan Cricket Board’s (PCB) restructuring of its domestic system over the summer was met with strong opposition and some had even staged angry press conferences.
The critics had feared that the abandoning of departmental cricket would render many jobless and create an economic crisis for the cricket community just below the national level.
The fears appear to have come true as a video shared by a sports journalist shows first-class cricketer Fazal Subhan driving a Suzuki pickup in Karachi to make ends meet.
“Yes, I drive this [pickup] for bhara (fare),” Subhan, 31, told the reporter as he sat on the driving seat of an aqua blue pickup. “This is seasonal work. Some days there is a lot of work, and sometimes there is nothing for 10 days.
Detailing his financial plight, he said: “I worked so hard to play for Pakistan. During departmental cricket, we were drawing a salary of Rs100,000 but since the departments have shut down we are down to Rs30,000-35,000, which is not enough to survive.
“I am grateful that at least I have this job right now because the way things are, who knows if I would even have this tomorrow. We have no choice; we have to do something for our children.”
Subhan, who according to ESPNcricinfo has a first-class batting average of 32.87, said that many other cricketers are going through what he’s going through.
There are hundreds of cricketers like me. Some are riding bikes with Careem, some are driving pickups, and some are stuck in companies.
When asked to tell about his playing career, Subhan said: “I played for Pakistan Under-19 team, and I also played for Pakistan A. I appeared in 42 first-class matches and was among the top five for two years. I played the home series in Lahore against India. I had played thrice in the series, and scored 39, an unbeaten 22 and once I was out for naught.”
“Once I was in the frame for a Pakistan call-up,” he added. “I was told by the board to get ready. I had my passport scanned and everything but then I don’t know what happened. Something else was selected.”
Several former cricketers reacted to the story, with veteran wicketkeeper-batsman Kamran Akmal deeming it “sad and heartbreaking”.
Former Test cricketer Yasir Hameed, meanwhile, attested to Subhan’s playing ability.
It is a common occurrence for a large pool of aspiring sportsmen to not make it to the highest level. However, the sporting ecosystem in most countries is large enough to accommodate at lower levels those who do not make it to the top.
Subhan and others' foray in alternative careers could be a sign of shrinking space for athletes in the country's sports economy.