Columns - Voice of Pakistan

PCB requires a good administrator

By Shahid Hashmi
Tuesday, September 23, 2021

Wanted a top man for Pakistan's most sought-after job! This is an unending saga played in the media as well as in the corridors of power. Every day a new candidate comes into fray but since the new government has its plate full of problems, they still can't find time to appoint PCB chairman considered as the fourth most powerful person in the country after President, Prime Minister and the Army Chief.

The political parties are burning midnight oil to get hold on PCB chairman’s office.

Ever since Dr Nasim Ashraf resigned from his post on August 18, a few hours after his great supporter President Pervez Musharraf's relinquished power to avoid an impeachment, Pakistan Cricket Board is without a chief. And a week after Ashraf resigned, Pakistan cricket was dealt with the severest blow when security fears led to the postponement of the Champions Trophy - an event which they were eager to host.

Foreign teams have been refusing to tour Pakistan because of unrest in the country and compounding the problems is the fact that there is no one at the top who can take some tough decisions to put cricket back on track.

Ironically, PCB's post also defies democratic system, just like governments in Pakistan. The country is ruled more by army than by politicians. The same is the case of the appointment of the PCB chairman. Unlike other countries where there is an elected president in the cricket boards, PCB chairman is appointed by President of Pakistan.

Former Pakistan captain Imran Khan believes that PCB has been very unfortunate in this case. "The best cricket boards in the world have a democratic set up. Look at India where there are associations who elect their head. Look at Australia and England where associations and cricket bodies appoint board’s chief. Sadly, we have the most unique system in which chairman is handpicked by President of Pakistan and since President has little time, the man at the helm of the affairs is not accountable. He destroys cricket and the set-up," said Imran.

It is now the turn of Pakistan People's Party government to appoint their man. The PPP is known for honouring their activists with the top posts in the country. Living up to party’s traditions, the new President Asif Ali Zardari has inducted several of his close friends on key posts like the Managing Director of Pakistan International Airlines is a little known pilot Ejaz Haroon.

Appointing a cricket boss is different for there are too many candidates, and above all, everyone has political backing. Since there are numerous problems on Zardari's agenda, he has no time to appoint a cricket boss. It will be delayed until he returns from United States early next month.

The first man to come up as a strong candidate was former Test wicket-keeper Ejaz Butt. The 73-year-old was over zealous in taking the job. A former secretary of the PCB (when it was Board of Control for Cricket in Pakistan in late 80s), Butt, though has experience of running the board and, more importantly, is the brother-in-law of the Defense Minister Ahmed Mukhtar, who till recently was a candidate for PM's post.

But all those who saw him falling from the stage in a ceremony during the Asia Cup know that age is not on his side.

Another aspirant for the post is federal sports minister Najam Khan. A Pathan, with little knowledge of sports, wants ad-hoc pattern to return in the cricket set-up until a suitable candidate is found, and no wonder wants to chair that temporary set-up.

Two other names that have been rejected are those of Zardari's business partner Zulfiqar Mirza and Punjab Governor Salman Taseer.

Mirza is currently the Home Minister of Sindh and would have been a great disaster had he been appointed. Taseer, also an ex-official in the World Cup 1996 committee, himself ruled out his appointment and backed Ehsan Mani's candidature.

Mani, a former ICC president, has been in the fray and has given suggestions on how to reform Pakistan cricket through his newspaper articles. Mani also reportedly met Zardari in London to present his candidature.

Former Test opener Majid Khan and Arif Abbasi have also been at the helm of affairs previously and are also frontrunners for the post. Majid, a strict disciplinarian, would be an unwanted candidate for current players. He too has the political backing as his cousin Ashraf Khan who is the federal secretary of sports. Abbasi, a former CEO of the PCB with a shrewd brain, seems to be the best choice and has the backing of MQM in the country and a party which PPP wants to please.

Candidature of another former player Salim Altaf, also former director cricket operations, nosedived as soon as Pakistan Muslim League (N) came out of the coalition. Altaf's son-in-law Dost Mohammad Khosa was chief minister of Punjab for a brief period.

Names of former captains Javed Miandad and Ramiz Raja were also mentioned. Raja, another former CEO, instead mentioned Imran Khan's name and demanded him to leave politics and take charge of cricket. That seems out of question as Imran is the biggest critic of the current government.

Pakistan cricket desperately needs a technocrat, not someone like we had in 1990s who ordered the officials to arrange man-of-the-match for the whole team!

The first task for the new chairman will be to bring international teams to the country. Without it, Pakistan cricket will further plunge into oblivion.