Four test playing nations. A former World Number One lost its way to experience one of the lowest points in the annals of their sporting history. In recent times, a supremely insurmountable side at home became more prone to defeats. A team famously regarded as the most volatile side to have taken the field endured isolation and wilderness in the Arabian deserts. A team deemed misfit started making significant strides that the world took note of. These are tumultuous yet exciting times for the test playing nations from the subcontinent.
One day, the leaves wither as they turn old. India and Sri Lanka are primarily experiencing this phase. There are more greens on their tree today. Pakistan is almost in a situation where the leaves are about to fall. The cricketing expiry for Misbah and Younus is much closer than what it was yesterday. Take the story of Shivnarine Chanderpaul, for example. The chances of comeback become slim for the veteran sportsmen moment the form slips away. As long as the fire in the lamp withstands the external pressure of the winds, these legendary players can continue writing more pages in their autobiographies.
India, now in the Sri Lankan shores, are all set to be challenged in conditions they are more familiar of. Ever since the dramatic 8-0 whitewashes in 2011-12, India showed mild signs of recovery. They have had to reshuffle the batting line up ever since the glorious trinity signed off along with the famous Delhi openers who seem to have lost their mojo. Fortunately, they have managed to construct another batting order which a lot of top ranked test countries can feel jealous about. But that’s about the best part of the segment that the team can feel proud of. As a unit, the losses at South Africa, New Zealand, England and Australia meant that the slide wasn’t arrested. With the one-off Bangladesh test abandoned due to rain, this Lankan tour is the beginning of a two year journey around the rivers and mountains of the sub-continent.
With a new leader and with the Board all set to soon announce the new coach, who would be the man to plot the route map for the future, India’s test resurgence is in tricky waters. The followers of the sport in the mad nation have had a long break since the IPL. Since IPL they have had to endure an ignominious one-day tour of Bangladesh. It has been the longest break for the team for a long time. Kohli has promised that he will play five bowlers thus thrusting more responsibility both on the top and the lower order batsmen. So far, Kohli’s approach as a leader has been all about making the moves to create a positive result. The aggressive attitude now goes a step further to embolden and empower the players with more trust and responsibility. It is time for his players to contribute with a very conscious mindset craving for consistency. With more matches scheduled in the sub-continent, the onus would be on the spinners to take lead with the attack.
On the other side of the border, Pakistan’s resurgence in test cricket has been nothing less than extraordinary. It is no easy task to defend at the adopted home as well as to beat the Lankans in their territory. Significantly, the batsmen contributed crucial runs for their bowlers to pick twenty wickets. After a relentless search for steady batsmen who build their game on temperament, Pakistan seem to have solved the puzzle. Ahmed Shehzad’s ability to convert starts into hundreds has provided a reasonable stability at the top of the order. Shan Masood, is still very young. But he showed enough gumption to convince about his ability and temperament. Asad Shafiq and Azhar Ali have been the biggest finds for Pakistan cricket in recent times. They have been the pillars around whom the game revolves. The best part about the two is that, they emerge from a different school of cricket where calmness and patience are considered as stepping stones for success. Shafiq and Ali have both tasted success and have good knowledge of what it takes to score hundreds in test matches. Between Shafiq and Ali, come the most experienced Pakistani pair of Younus Khan and Misbah Ul Haq. While they both don’t seem to come close to an end with their careers, Pakistan’s fresh approach in ODIs gives a good look into their batting resources when the legends call it a day. That Pakistan completed a rout in Sri Lanka, defeating the hosts in all formats of the game, shows that the team is experiencing a positive growth. After the final T20, there were great scenes of camaraderie and team bonding. Importantly, Pakistan have showed that they enough stomach for challenge and hunger for victory.
The inclusion of Sarfaraz Ahmed in the middle order is the single most powerful addition for their line-up. Teams are prone to produce inconsistent results if they carry a lot of flashy batsmen. Such batsmen will change the complexion of the game within a session or two. Since their approach can’t be tempered, it would be difficult to expect them play a fighting innings. Sarfaraz, amazingly, can play both roles. He has lent fire to the batting order that finally found solidity and method to their game.
While Pakistan need not worry about the fast bowler produce, Saeed Ajmal’s exit from the scene could have spelt dooms for any team. Yasir Shah’s emergence as an attacking leg spinner smoothened the transition. Yasir Shah provides Misbah with both control and strike force. When the batsmen succeed, Shah becomes a bigger prospect for Pakistan’s success. The way he bowled in Sri Lanka on not so friendly surfaces was a display of his stern character and his ability to play according to the conditions.
Pakistan’s biggest challenge, though, is yet to arrive. They have slowly begun to become a strong opponent in home conditions. But just like how the challenge was for India, or for that matter any other subcontinent team, Pakistan’s ability to survive and succeed will be tested on a bigger scale when they play in Australia, South Africa, England and New Zealand.
The latest victim of the Bangladesh assault were the South Africans. Not so long ago, Bangladesh gave both India and Pakistan a rude lesson that told the world that they have finally arrived. While Bangladesh’s resurgence has mostly been in the ODIs, they made some impression when they bowled out South Africa for under 250 and took an important lead in the first test at Dhaka. The promise that Bangladesh have shown in the past six months only makes us believe that the team has matured heads who are ready to act responsibly for team’s success now. At the helm of affairs is Hathurusinghe, who is carving a legacy of his own with this resurgence. The coach has gone the long yards to make his team believe that they definitely can. The likes of Tamim Iqbal, Imrul Kayes, Mahmudullah, Shakib Al Hasan, Mushfiqur Rahim and Mashrafe Mortaza have absorbed enough quality of international cricket, that they can be the torch bearers for Bangladesh cricket now. These players have shown immense maturity in taking ownership on the field and guiding the younger ones in the best way possible.
Considering the following that Bangladesh have in their backyard, it was going to be impossible for them to never improve. All this while, the stars who are torch bearers today were seeking inspiration to grow bigger. Their heroes never made it big. They got back home defeated again and again.
With Australia touring Bangladesh next, there wouldn’t be a better measure of their progress than testing it against Australia’s Gold Standard.
Sri Lanka have a problem aplenty. It is a mixed scenario that each of India and Pakistan have experienced for a long time. Under Angelo Mathews, this Lankan team is taking baby steps with their resurgence. The best aspect of this resurgence has been the performance of their fast bowlers. The tank is full with quality that Mathews can afford to prepare fast and seaming tracks for their bowlers to achieve desired results. Dhammika Prasad has come of age. Nuwan Pradeep, Suranga Lakmal and Dushmantha Chameera have had their moments. Twenty three year old Chameera, especially, has come for a lot of praise. Along with the captain himself, Sri Lanka’s pace attack are in good shape for the present and for the immediate future.
But their real concerns come with their batsmen. Jayawardane is gone. Dilshan is gone. So will Sangakkara by the end of this month. While the batting has shown odd sparks with Kaushal Silva and Dimuth Karunaratne, Angelo Mathews continues to be the lynch pin in this batting order. The replacements and the next-in-line are the players who have been there with the team earlier. Jehan Mubarak’s and Upul Tharanga’s selections gives away the fact that the older men who were discarded before, continue to be the best of the lot to play test cricket. Sangakkara’s fear in the loss of quality in the first class cricket, is well placed. If the structure can’t produce new talents then there is something wrong that needs to be fixed at the earliest.
The Lankans trust Chandimal and Thirimanne a lot. While they have been impressive in shorter formats, both players need to raise their hands up now to shoulder responsibility. The series against India, is hence going to be very crucial for these two players. If both of them fail to make any mark, the middle order will be in tatters.
Group Berates Ayeni Over Calumny Campaign Against Okunbo
A group, National Youth Alliance of Nigeria (NYAN), has berated businessman, Dr. Olatunde Ayeni, over what it called his “campaign of calumny” against the chairman of Ocean Marine Solutions Limited (OMS), Capt. Idahosa Wells Okunbo.
NYAN said Ayeni, a former director and shareholder of OMS, contacted the group for a hatchet job against the person and business interests of Capt. Okunbo, especially the OMS.
National President of NYAN, Lucky Igbamodi, told journalists at a press conference that the group was hired to launch scathing campaigns against Capt. Okunbo in order to malign him through fictitious petitions and peddling of outright falsehoods.
Igbamodi said NYAN subsequently carried out its own investigation and found out that all allegations against Capt. Okunbo and OMS were untrue as they were fabricated for sinister motives by Ayeni.
“Making our stand public becomes necessary now lest the unsuspecting members of the public be misled about the real issues. Dr. Olatunde Ayeni mistook our group for agents of destruction for hire and we listened to him and carried our own investigations to ascertain the truth.
“We found out several things which point to a documented fact and established truth – that Dr. Olatunde Ayeni has since 2018 left the Board of OMS and as well sold his shares to Capt. Idahosa Wells Okunbo but only returns to launch a campaign of calumny against the latter just because Capt. Okunbo has a health challenge.
“Nigerians and non-governmental organisations should be wary of Dr. Olatunde Ayeni’s antics, which are all in bad faith and unbecoming of a businessman he claims to be,” Igbamodi added.
While wishing Capt. Okunbo quick recovery, the group admonished the Board of OMS to continue to support Okunbo and always stand by the truth as it has demonstrated so far.
Apologise To Abia Gov Or Face Recall, Kogi West Youths Tell Adeyemi
A group called Concerned Kogi West Youths has called on the Senator representing Kogi West, Smart Adeyemi, to immediately apologise to Abia State governor, Victor Ikpeazu, over his uncomplimentary comment on the latter or face recall from the Senate.
A statement issued by the group and signed Mr Michael Oluwaseun Bolorunduro on Monday said Senator Adeyemi must apologise to the Abia governor and the people of Abia State within seven days or be ready for the consequence.
The youths, however, apologised on behalf of the Kogi West people to Governor Ikpeazu for the “behaviour” of Senator Adeyemi on the floor of the Senate during a debate on the Safe School Initiative agaisnt the backdrop of incessant attacks on schools by bandits in the North last week.
“We the concerned Kogi West Youth are writing to apologise for the behaviour of the Senator representing Kogi West Senatorial District, Senator Smart Adeyemi, recently on the floor of the Hallowed Chamber.
“It took us this long to react or respond to his ungentlemanly attitude because the character trait that he displayed is alien to our culture in Kogi West. We tried to know reasons for such reactions and alas, we couldn’t find any justifiable and sensible reason for such.
“We, too, were personally shocked and offended by his actions and utterances which were a direct contravention of the values of dignity and good mannerism that we teach in our locality.
“We all know that emotions can get heated, but it does not excuse the language and behavior of our representative,” the group said.
They added that they as “wise constituents” have decided “to right the wrong of the malady and public show of shame as displayed by Senator Smart Adeyemi” to apologise and as well demand apology from Adeyemi.
“It is on this note that we demand that Senator Smart Adeyemi within seven days apologise at the same Hallowed Chamber of the Senate for his uncontrollable utterances against the governor and people of Abia State or face recal,” Bolorunduro declared.
North – East: Group Scores NEDC High On Good Governance Index, Accountability
The North East Development Commission (NEDC) has been rated high for entrenching transparency, good governance and accountability in its operations.
The National Accountability Watch Group (NAWG) said it came to this conclusion after a strategic assessment of NEDC’s operations.
In an interim report signed by its Executive Director, Dr Okpe Joseph Okpe, on Monday, the group lauded managing director, Mohammed Alkali for ensuring that the commission fulfils its madate to Nigerians.
Among others, the NAWG noted that under Alkali, the agency has achieved quality leadership, impacted the economy, formulated and implemented programmes and focused on relevant interventions.
Established in 2019, the commission was given the task of assessing, coordinating, harmonizing, reporting as well as implementing all intervention programmes in the North-East region.
And according to the group, the Alkali-led agency has so far exceeded its mandate, ensuring that the reconstruction and development of the economy of the region remains a top priority.
The NAWG further applauded the management of the NEDC for displaying unalloyed commitment towards fulfilling the mandate of the NEDC in ways too numerous.
The National Accountability Watch Group, however, urged all relevant stakeholders to extend support to the NEDC in critical areas of intervention.
Read full report below:
The impact of the Boko Haram insurgency in North-East Nigeria has had negative consequences on the social and economic life in the region. Hundreds of thousands have been killed and properties worth billions of Naira destroyed. The question thus was how to mitigate the impact of the insurgency and this consequently led to the establishment of the North East Development Commission to lead the reconstruction and development of Nigeria’s northeast.
It is also charged with the responsibility to assess, coordinate, harmonize and report on all intervention programs, and initiatives by the Federal Government or any of its Ministries, Departments, and Agencies (MDAs), States; and other Development Partners and for the implementation of all programs and initiatives for the North East states; Adamawa, Bauchi, Borno, Gombe, Taraba, Yobe, respectively.
Since 2019 when the North East Development Commission commenced operations, it has been reported in some quarters that the NEDC has been proactive in addressing the issues in North-East Nigeria, while in some quarters, it was also stated that the NEDC has not lived up to expectation.
Thus the need to interrogate the operations of the NEDC prompted the National Accountability Watch Group to undertake a strategic assessment study on the operations of the NEDC from 2019 till date towards putting issues in proper perspectives with regards to fulfilling its mandate of leading the reconstruction and development of North-East Nigeria.
The assessment dwelled on six governance indicators:
Quality of Leadership
Impact on the economy of North-East Nigeria
Programmes formulation and implementation
Transparency and accountability
Relevance of interventions
Blueprint for development
Quality of Leadership:
The National Accountability Watch Group examined the quality of leadership provided by the NEDC management team led by the managing director, Mohammed Alkali. It also scrutinized the leadership drive by the management team towards achieving the strategic mandate of the NEDC.
After extensive assessment, it was discovered that the management team of the NEDC led by its managing director, Mohammed Alkali has been outstanding in the discharge of their responsibilities. The composition of the management team speaks volumes of round pegs in round holes and this has translated to the entrenchment of synergy amongst the various departments at the NEDC.
An extensive study of the leadership provided by the NEDC over the two-year period it has been in operation speaks volumes of a management team with eyes on the ball in delivering the mandate of the commission towards addressing the developmental challenges in North-East Nigeria occasioned by the Boko Haram insurgency.
It was also discovered that the management team of the NEDC consist of individuals that are passionate about service and this much has been seen in the work ethics, programmes formulation, and implementation at the NEDC.
The managing director, Mohammed Alkali has been reputed to have been providing sound leadership direction for the NEDC through the introduction and implementation of sound programmes that have been impactful on the socio-economic life of North-East Nigeria.
Impact on the economy of North-East Nigeria
The impact of the various intervention of the NEDC in North-East Nigeria was assessed using key indicators on governance. It was realized that in two years the NEDC has been impactful in the economy of North-East Nigeria, which has received commendations from wide and far.
An example of the impact on the NEDC in the economy of North-East Nigeria is the setting up of an Education Endowment Fund worth N6billion aimed at resuscitating the region’s devastating education sector and rebuild human capital.
The Fund provides an avenue for the engagement of over 20,000 beneficiaries across the region annually. The fund provides scholarships and training while also building infrastructures in the sector. It was discovered that under this initiative hundreds of thousands have benefited and are making the required impact in North-East Nigeria. This is amongst a host of other notable interventions.
It was also discovered that the NEDC has also assisted tremendously in the resettlement of displaced persons back to their communities through the creation and provision of basic amenities required for normal life in communities that were affected by the Boko Haram insurgency.
Programmes formulation and implementation
The various programmes formulated by the NEDC were also scrutinized. It was discovered that the NEDC has instituted various programmes that are suited to bring about meaningful development in North-East Nigeria. This much are visible various infrastructural developments with the NEDC imprints that dot the nook and crannies of North-East Nigeria.
The NEDC has also been credited to have introduced programmes with a direct impact on the lives of citizens of North-East Nigeria, and this has largely contributed to the reconstruction efforts in the region.
The NEDC also launched the first phase of Mine Risk Awareness Training under the NEDC Mines Risk Education Project for Local Government Areas in the Northeast. It was also discovered that the NEDC also has in place an ICT resource training programme for youths from states in North-East Nigeria, which has been impactful and given the youths a new lease of life. This is aside from other programmes that have been introduced that have made a meaningful impact in North-East Nigeria.
The NEDC also initiated programmes that mitigated the effect of the Coronavirus pandemic in states in North-East Nigeria.
Transparency and accountability:
In assessing the impact of the NEDC in North-East Nigeria, it was discovered that there has been an entrenchment of transparency and accountability in its operations. This much was evident in the implementation of policies and programmes across the states in North-East Nigeria.
This has also led to the effective utilization of resources in the even distribution of available resources amongst the various states in North-East Nigeria in terms of infrastructural development and provision of humanitarian support to affected communities in North-East Nigeria. There is also a regime of probity in the implementation of the various programmes initiated by the NEDC in North-East Nigeria.
Relevance of interventions
The relevance of the various interventions of the programmes of the NEDC in North-East Nigeria has been acknowledged by stakeholders in North-East Nigeria. The assessment of the various interventions revealed that the NEDC did understudy the immediate, short-term, and long-term needs of the region and consequently introduced interventions that have had a meaningful impact on the socio-economic life in North-East Nigeria.
Blueprint for development
The blueprint for the reconstruction and development of North-East Nigeria by the NEDC speaks volumes of its strategic mandate of leading the reconstruction and development of Nigeria’s northeast. This has made great strides in retaking and stabilizing large portions of the North-East.
The National Accountability Watch Group as a result of this strategic assessment of the operations of the NEDC since incorporations concludes that the NEDC management led by the managing director has lived up to expectations within a short period through the entrenchment of transparency and accountability in its operations. This is indeed laudable and we wish to state that with the programmes and policies of the NEDC, the task of reconstructing and developing the economy of North-East Nigeria remains a top priority of NEDC.
The management of the NEDC has displayed an unalloyed commitment towards fulfilling the mandate of the NEDC in ways too numerous to mention.
The National Accountability Watch Group as a result of the above stated recommends the following towards boosting the operations of the NEDC: That the relevant stakeholders in North-East Nigeria must extend their support to the NEDC management in critical areas of intervention
That the NEDC management must ensure that it introduces policies that have short, medium, and long term impact in North-East Nigeria
That the NEDC management must continue to engage the media constituency in projecting its various interventionist programmes in North-East Nigeria.
That the political leadership in states in North-East Nigeria must see the NEDC as worthy partners rather than rivals
That the NEDC must not lose sight of the bigger picture in ensuring it continues to churn our programmes and policies that address the needs of North-East Nigeria towards achieving its strategic action plan for the reconstruction and development of the economy of North-East Nigeria.
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