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“Credibility is the key” – Imran



(When World Cup winning former Pakistan captain Imran Khan visited the island 16 years ago to deliver a speech at the CIMA Global Leaders Summit at BMICH, The Island’s respected cricket columnist Rohan Wijeyaratna had been invited for the forum. Rohan in successive weeks, through his column, told Imran’s message to our readers. We reproduce his second installment today. This first appeared on the 18th of June 2005. The first installment was published yesterday.)


Yesterday we closed at the point where Imran refused General Musharaff’s invitation to the premiership and paid the price. However, he believed he was now closer to his objective than ever. He said his refusal was based on a matter of principle and gave him credibility. Credibility was the key to leadership. If you wished people to follow you, it was important that you have credibility and if that was lost, one could never aspire to leadership. “The key to leadership” said Imran, “is the ability to command people’s respect. People will never respect you if you are not credible.” Words that must ring true in the ears of every leader in this country, be it in politics, commerce, industry, education or indeed sports itself, including those who have or intend to, exchange their flannels for a sarong and a seat in parliament.


The fear of failure

If lack of vision was a major impediment towards not achieving one’s ambition, then the fear of failure was the next. “People were petrified of failure,” Imran stated. Such men would not try anything due to fear of criticism that followed failure. They worried too much of what others would say if they failed. This was the biggest trap, the biggest prison one could create for oneself. All his life Imran had people laugh at him, but his advice was never to be put off by that.

He opined that public sentiment was extremely fickle. You go out to bat one day and everyone cheers. If you get out first ball, everyone jeers. Observing that Pakistan losing to India was not an option, he recalled his first tour to India where Pakistan lost despite a far stronger team than the Indians. Returning home was a calculated risk, involving judicious timing. So when the plane landed in the wee hours of the morning, the over-zealous customs officers stripped them of everything and ensured that they did not leave the airport until daybreak and in full public view. They stayed indoors thereafter for a week. Yet six to seven years later when they arrived after beating India, there were 150,000 at the airport and the roads were lined up with people on either side several rows deep for 5 miles! With such exposure to public fickleness it was easy to view failures in perspective and not be scared of what others might have to say.

Imran reckoned that the worry of failure also prevented some from taking calculated risks in life. And without taking a risk you can only settle for mediocrity, never achieving any heights. “Failure” he said was “the greatest teacher ever. It teaches you more than when winning.” Victory makes you forget the mistakes but defeat ensures that mistakes stare you in the face and that you come to terms with them. Crisis is sometimes the best teacher, but one needs to be able to analyze a crisis and not allow it to destroy one’s self belief. Therefore, by putting things into perspective and analyzing rationally, it was possible to come back stronger for it. Taking the example of Zaheer Abbas, Imran said there was none so gifted as he, yet the fear of failure often petrified the man and he never reached his fullest potential. When one feared failure one not only forgot how to win but lost the killer instinct as well. Giving another example, Imran recalled playing against Australia minus all their stars who had defected to the Packer camp. It was literally an Aussie ‘B’ team and Pakistan being vastly superior; there was no comparison. Predictably Pakistan won the first Test but just before the second and final Test, their captain said that under no circumstance should they lose the match. The whole team played so negatively in order not to lose, they ended up losing the match!


Self belief

Fear of failure made one defensive. Then it was easy to miss opportunities. Belief in success makes one develop the killer instinct so that when opportunities come they are grabbed, as you have been looking for them. Imran attributed his success as captain largely to self belief. “I was successful as captain even with a weak team because when I stepped on to a cricket field I never thought anyone could defeat me.”

Such was his attitude even when playing the indomitable West Indies at their peak. Then it was not a question of winning but losing with dignity! Yet, he famously called for and got neutral umpires to stand, saying that when Pakistan won it would not be attributed to their own umpires! Also, it helped remove the ‘crutch’ his players were used to with ‘home’ umpires, as it effectively told them ‘you are on your own’ and that they were good enough to win. Imran recognized that if one half of every good player was technique and talent, the other half was all temperament and mind. Pakistan registered a shock win but eventually the series was drawn. He never mentioned of course his immense all-round contribution towards that win!

Those who looked to succeed would be positive and made the ‘lesser known’ and the ‘not so good’ play beyond themselves by making them believe in themselves. This was the job of a leader. He should never destroy the self belief of his players. The body language of a captain was a good deal more important than all the speeches he would make in the pavilion. Imran reiterated his central thesis – that everyone had tremendous potential. It was merely a matter of getting it out. Reminding the audience of a favourite line from Robert Frost – “To take the path that is less trodden upon, and that’s what makes the difference” – Imran stated that fearlessness in taking the path others feared to take would make one strong, and draw on one’s potential.

In 1987 Imran retired at his peak having achieved all what he wanted to. Besides, he was unwilling to be at the mercy of the selectors anyway. However, Pakistan were then invited to the West Indies but no one was willing to lead the side and the team also refused to go. So General Zia gave Imran a way out. Hosting a banquet, he asked Imran to come out of retirement for the sake of the team. Imran obliged, taking a very poor team to the Caribbean. They won one and lost one as the series was drawn. It was the first time in 15 years that any team visiting the Caribbean had done it, and given a team that was nowhere near the West Indies, it was a remarkable achievement. “You are as big as the challenges you accept,” was his explanation.



Lastly, he dwelt on how a leader can command respect. Integrity was the key. Without integrity a leader could not command respect. National leaders, team leaders, be it anyone, they must earn the trust of their charges. It is only then that people will follow them. Leading by example was important. As a cricketer it was important never to expect your team to do anything which you wouldn’t do yourself. Be it in training or observing team discipline, the leader had to show the way for the rest to follow. This was a cardinal principle in establishing one’s credibility.


Leaders cannot break the law

Imran said that the third world was the way it was because it spawned leaders who broke every law, yet expected others to follow it. In Pakistan’s case he said that General Musharaff had desecrated the constitution but expected the common people and the police to follow the law. If you broke the law, everyone else also will. Imran spoke of his hospital which was the biggest charitable institution in Pakistan and which set high standards. It ran as a successful institution because no one broke its rules. Starting with himself – its chairman and founder – everyone observes the set criteria for admission. He was pressurized ceaselessly, particularly by his own constituency but to date he has not admitted one single patient out of turn. Neither has he taken any more staff than was necessary. So he doesn’t break the law and neither does anyone else. That was the key to its success. All he needed was to make one or two allowances, and the whole system would then collapse, because others would also follow suit. So, a leader must lead by example. If he wished his team to fight, he needed to fight himself.



The next important thing was courage. A cowardly leader was again a contradiction in terms. If one did not have the courage or ability to take the big decisions, one can never make a good leader. Good leaders always recognized the downside of any big decisions. There is no such thing as a risk free big decision. Every decision carried a risk. But a great leader would know the downside before he took that risk. That is bravery. A stupid leader will do something like the charge of the light brigade where you charge into the guns not knowing what opposition you got. “It is courage and bravery when you take a decision and as a result you know you will be wiped out at an election because you are up against the military establishment. And despite that you still go and fight the election – that’s bravery.”


Must be selfless, have no ego and ready to work with all

And finally, a leader has to be selfless. He must only be loyal to the cause. He must work even with those whom he resents or who irritate him. He must never put his ego in front of his cause. This is the biggest downfall of most people he said. Even in his own political party, leaders at various levels expect personal loyalty rather than loyalty to the bigger cause. Therefore, wrong selections are made, the team doubts the fairness and respect is lost. Then you have a hamstrung leader. It was important not to allow your ego to come in the way of your cause. Imran said that he learnt most of his lessons watching and analyzing others make mistakes.

There were two fundamental mistakes that one must avoid. They are, never to underestimate your enemy, and to be able to work with anyone to get the best of a team. Leaders must work with all individuals. “In my political party, there is this member of the central executive who irritates me, abuses me and each time we do badly, he unfairly criticizes me. But I can’t even think of excluding him from the central executive because there is a side to him which is extremely valuable to the party and as long as someone is valuable to your objective, you must work with him. It’s only when he becomes an impediment in reaching that objective that you kick him out. But never because you don’t like him. When the ego comes in, it is a very destructive force in achieving your objective,” said Imran in conclusion.


An Oscar winning performance

The only reason why Imran Khan didn’t receive the standing ovation he so richly deserved was because the audience was recovering from shock and forgot that courtesy. The shock of listening to the truth presented so candidly and without fear; two aspects that had almost gone out of style in his country. It was an Oscar winning performance which touched and lifted everybody and if the tiles on the roof rattled through the applause that followed, it was merely to signal the genuine and heartfelt appreciation of a grateful and inspired audience.


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Moose signs up as cricket’s clothing partner



Moose CEO Hasib Omar hands over the new Sri Lankan jersey to Dimuth Karunaratne, who will make a return to the ODI side in the upcoming three match series against Afghanistan. SLC Secretary Mohan de Silva and CEO Ashley de Silva are also in the picture

by Rex Clementine  

Singer had been a loyal sponsor of Sri Lankan cricket but a little heard company called Dilmah outbid Singer when the sponsorship was up for grabs in 2002. Singer boss Hemaka Amarasuriya wasn’t whinging and went on record saying that he welcomed local companies coming forward to back the sport.

Within a few years, Dilmah, an entity that was hardly known by most Sri Lankans became a global brand. That exactly is the strategy that Moose have adopted in their bid to become a global brand.

Moose a clothing company that is becoming quite popular among youth for their denims and t-shirts have been associated with cricket sponsorships in the last five years. On Thursday, they announced a four year deal with SLC to be clothing sponsor of the national cricket teams – both men and women.

Moose CEO Hasib Omar is a soft spoken young man who reminds you of the great Aravinda de Silva. But like in Ara’s case, beneath the soft exterior lies a sharp brain.

MAS had been the clothing sponsor of SLC for the last 16 years and Moose has outbid them signing a four year deal that will take them through all bilateral series, ICC events and Asian Cricket Council tournaments.  The partnership brings together two of the nation’s main strengths – cricket and apparel industry.

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Dimuth’s return to ODIs, a welcome move



by Rex Clementine  

After more than two years of stubborn resistance, the selectors have been forced to bite the bullet and admit that their strategies have been faulty and the top order of the ODI outfit needs stability. Hence the return of Test captain Dimuth Karunaratne for white ball cricket for the upcoming three match series against Afghanistan and he should retain his place for the World Cup qualifiers later next month in Zimbabwe too.

One of the troubles with the 50 over side is that the batting department has been found wanting not able to bat out the 50 overs. Dimuth provides the stability opening the innings with his ability to bat through the 50 overs. Other stroke makers can bat around him.

In 2021 April, Dimuth Karunaratne posted his career best Test score of 244 against Bangladesh. A month later, Sri Lanka’s white ball team was touring Bangladesh and Dimuth was sacked from the captaincy as the leadership of the white ball teams was handed to Kusal Perera. It was a left field choice. That was an experiment that didn’t last long.

Not only was Dimuth removed from the captaincy he lost his place in the side as well. It didn’t dawn to the selectors that the batters will be encountering the same bowlers and in Karunaratne they had a man who was in good touch, having smashed a double hundred against the Bangladeshis. The result was catastrophic. Sri Lanka lost the series and in both games they lost, the batting had collapsed.

It is these senseless moves that has resulted in Sri Lanka being forced to play the qualifying round of the World Cup.  By the time the selectors wisened up, the horse had bolted. The recalling of Dimuth is an admission by the selectors that they had got their act wrong in axing him.

It will be early winter in Zimbabwe in June and with day games teams will encounter some dew in the morning and need to adjust accordingly.  On paper, Sri Lanka should go through, but they are a team that has got everything to lose having won the World Cup once and featured in two other finals. For smaller nations, this is a massive opportunity and if they win, there’s nothing like that but if they lose, they can always try next time. Not for Sri Lanka though, who have featured in every World Cup since the tournament was launched in 1975.

Complacency is the only thing that Sri Lanka need to guard themselves against. A mindset that this is not a tough challenge could see them losing the plot as we have seen it happening to many teams time and again.

In Chris Silverwood the team has someone who knows what to expect in Zimbabwe as he started his coaching stint there having overseen Mashonaland (Harare).  The Head Coach will be tapping into the brains of his contacts in Zimbabwe as to what his team can expect when they travel for the qualifiers.

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Russian doubles player cleared of match-fixing two years after Roland Garros arrest



Yana Sizikova has a career-high ranking of 44 in women’s doubles

Russian doubles player Yana Sizikova has been cleared of match-fixing two years after her arrest at the French Open, according to her lawyer.The 28-year-old was arrested at Roland Garros in 2021 as part of an investigation into match-fixing allegations dating back to the 2020 edition of the Grand Slam.

Sizikova, ranked 50th in doubles, has continued to play on the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) Tour since her arrest and will compete at this year’s French Open, which starts today.

“After two and a half years of investigation, the Paris Public Prosecutor’s Office definitively closed the case on 11 April 2023, considering that criminal proceedings could not be initiated, as the facts of which Sizikova was accused could not be established,” her lawyer Frederic Belot told Reuters.

Officials began investigating in October 2020 after suspicions of “organised fraud” and “corruption in sports”.

A source close to the investigation told the BBC at the time the inquiry focused on a first-round match in which Sizikova and American partner Madison Brengle lost 7-6 (10-8) 6-4 to Romanian pair Andreea Mitu and Patricia Maria Tig.

Suspicions were reportedly raised after betting companies noticed hundreds of thousands of euros had been wagered on a break of serve in the second set.Sizikova was released a day after her arrest in 2021.In July 2022 she and fellow Russian Anastasia Potapova won the Prague Open, while Sizikova reached two other finals last year.

(BBC Sports)

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