The passion for cricket in Pakistan is as great as anywhere in the world. This means there is saturation coverage of the team's performance and endless debates on every issue related to the team. It also means that the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) has to be very active in its public relations operations.
However, on Friday, whoever was handling the official Twitter handle of PCB committed a big blunder. It was a big day for Pakistan cricket as Sarfaraz Ahmed, who has been the captain of the national team in all three formats for a long time, was sacked. This was something expected for a long time.
However, what wasn't expected was that PCB's own social media account would end up insulting the man who had just lost his position. In a controversial tweet posted just after the announcement, that was later taken down, the board's own Twitter handle shared a GIF which shows Pakistani players standing together in a group during one of their training sessions.
The GIF has a couple of Pakistani players dancing, as if something really joyful has happened, and one member of the group making a gesture which looks like asking someone to get lost. The person in the GIF who seems to be at the receiving end of this gesture is Sarfaraz himself who then is seen walking away.
The implication is clear: Pakistani players are dancing with joy as Sarfaraz is told his services as captain are no longer needed. Faced with backlash, PCB had no option but to delete this tweet. However, by then it had been watched by too many people and even recorded by some.
The board then issued an apology. It read: "The PCB apologies for this post and accept the timing of it was wrong. This was a pre-planned post as part of the one-year to go T20 World Cup promotional campaign. The timing of this post clashed with the captaincy announcement for which the PCB offers its regrets."
Cricket writer Osman Samiuddin managed to record the entire GIF and shared it on his Twitter account. The claim by PCB that the GIF was going to be used for a tweet about World T20 being exactly one year away seems hard to believe. It's hard to understand how this set of pictures can be, in any manner, used for promoting T20 event. Though it was put out in response to @T20WorldCup handle.
It is clear that some person handling the account got carried away by the occasion and placed this tweet without taking into consideration how it would seem. Interestingly, Pakistan have now got rid of all three key persons – chief selector Inzamam-ul-Haq, coach Mickey Arthur and captain Sarfaraz – who were blamed for the debacle in the World Cup.