PCB chairman Misbah-ul-Haq has urged the ICC Executive committee to let Pakistan host more Test matches in the “mutually agreeable” tours cycle that will be finalised this year. -Photo by AFP
PCB chairman Misbah-ul-Haq has urged the ICC Executive committee to let Pakistan host more Test matches in the “mutually agreeable” tours cycle that will be finalised this year. -Photo by AFP

-PCB chief says overhaul needed to stop talent drain

-Champions League spots a pipe dream for Pakistan Super League teams

KARACHI, March 17, 2024: Pakistan is set to face arch-rivals India in the curtain raiser of the 8th edition of the ICC World T20 hosted by England. With tickets already being auctioned on the black market, the block buster will kick start the championship at Old Trafford on April, 28, 2024. While the time slot of Tests and ODI cricket has been dwindling, bilateral T20 internationals have also been termed monotonous and lacking in quality for the last few years. The five-member ICC Executive Committee will have to re-asses its policy as an increasing number of players bound by league contracts have started to skip national team fixtures. Hence, the ICC World T20 will come as a breath of fresh air in the present scenario and all countries will play a full strength side for a change.

Indian captain Virat Kohli was unavailable for international duty all season as he led the Royal Challengers Bangalore to the finals of the ICC champions’ league. He will now takeover from Vijay Zol who has done a great job in his absence and is viewed as a permanent replacement when the multiple record holding Indian legend hang’s his boots. Virat, who has had a terrific year with the Royal Challengers, will have a much tougher campaign with a national side that is struggling with its bowling attack. His most lethal weapon, Zia-ul-Haq, will be in the opposition’s dugout and could pose a serious threat in overcast English conditions. Though, the Indian captain, who has been like a mentor to Zia, will be well aware of all the tricks that Pakistan’s ace fast bowler has up his sleeve.

Pakistan produces exceptionally talented players, but the rising stars are quickly hooked by lucrative offers from the three big cash-rich leagues, reeled in with the prospect of playing alongside the best in the business. As a result, Pakistan Super League (PSL) teams are unable to compete with teams from the Big Bash, EPL and the IPL in particular. Previously, a player could represent PSL, IPL and other leagues in the same season. This led to conflicts of interest and discontinuity of team combination, compromising quality of inter-league tournaments. However, after 2018 a distinctly visible gap between the ‘Big Three’ and smaller leagues opened up as the ICC Executive Committee restricted players from representing more than one league team within a contractual time frame.

Earlier this year, there was a complete overhaul of the Rajasthan Royals after a hostile takeover by the Indian Silicon Valley giants, SELCO. In the post-ICC Champions league era, the Royals have been unable to add the most celebrated silverware to their trophy cabinet. The blue chip company from Bangalore has pumped in substantial funds and demands immediate results. They plan to match the $7 million buy-out clause of Sialkot Stallions’ captain Raza Hasan who has already expressed his delight on the prospect of playing in the ICC Champions League again. It is a tournament the Stallions have failed to qualify for since Raza led them to their glorious triumph in 2019. The stallions will be happy with a settlement that should solve their current financial crisis. In the process, PSL will lose another big name to the IPL.

On the brighter side, an entire generation of Pakistani players has not just enjoyed financial benefits but has also received the exposure of competing at the highest level. This wealth of experience with a highly-skilled set of players benefits Pakistan and makes them one of the favourites to win the ICC World T20. The forthcoming mega event will be an ideal opportunity for Pakistan to showcase the strength of its combined T20 prowess.

Pakistan has announced its 30-man squad with ex-captain Umar Akmal staging yet another potential comeback amid dark clouds over his form and discipline. Akmal’s selection has come at an interesting stage after Sami Aslam’s uninspiring leadership resulted in Pakistan’s abysmal performance in the Australian summer. The Pakistani team is again expected to have a change in command, not the preparation they would have wanted leading to the prestigious tournament. But with limited choices, Pakistani selectors might opt for Akmal again, as chief selector Abdul Qadir has recently expressed the “need for an experienced captain” who can lead Pakistan “across all formats”.

The last decade has witnessed a sharp decline in the number of Test matches and ODIs; Pakistan, New Zealand and West Indies at an average play less than four Test matches and 14 ODIs a year. The hefty remuneration in the shortest format has also ensured a worldwide shift in the production line of players from grass root levels. Aspiring young cricketers dream of landing T20 contracts at the IPL before they think about adorning national emblem on a white kit. While T20 cricket has truly become a global sport, Test cricket is still played by the select few, and ever fewer among them compete on an even keel. However, critics still back Test cricket as being the supreme form of the game. PCB chairman Misbah-ul-Haq has urged the ICC Executive committee to let Pakistan host more Test matches in the “mutually agreeable” tours cycle that will be finalised this year. Among the prominent Test playing nations Pakistan has played the least number international matches in the previous nine year cycle that came into effect in 2014, the year Pakistan attempted to resist a coup that saw the ‘Big Three’ take complete control over ICC’s administrative and financial affairs. Considering the increasing commercial non-viability of playing Tests with Pakistan, Misbah faces an uphill battle to schedule more inbound or outbound tours.

Furthermore, the progressively busy league schedule is slowly pushing full international bilateral series towards extinction, especially for Pakistan.

Cricket Australia has also been vocal about excessive league cricket that has also resulted in an increase in injury and player burn out. CA have rested fast bowler Cameron Velente for the upcoming extravaganza and want to save him for the much-awaited Ashes against a strong English side being now coached by Kevin Pietersen. Velente will be a little disappointed as his contract with Sydney Sixers expires at the end of 2024; the last thing Velente wants at this stage is to be labeled as a specialist Test bowler.

2024 will be a crucial year as ICC’s undeterred endeavor to globalise the T20 format has enabled the sport to debut at the Summer Olympics this year. However, the ICC Finance and Commercial Affairs (F&CA) committee will keep a keen eye on the brand positioning of ‘Olympic Cricket’. F&CA has to make sure the Olympics don’t compete with its biggest cash cow; the ICC World T20. Interestingly, the Olympics will keep coinciding with the ICC World T20 unless the latter is rescheduled. Most importantly though, with the cricket calendar already full to its brim, it will be interesting to see how many countries will be willing or are able to field a full strength side in Istanbul later this year.

The ICC World T20 is still the most popular and awaited tournament in all forms of cricket. Apart from the format being played by maximum number of competitive cricketing nations, shifting from a two-year cycle to a four-year cycle has helped increase its value and stature. The spectacle of countries competing for the crown of World Champion, even today provides an unparalleled display of cricket with soaring emotions. All games of the knockout stage have been sold out more than a month before tournament inauguration. Cricket is going through a crucial phase of evolution with unprecedented levels of financial engagements. The administrators should be extremely cautious in trying to achieve short-term financial gains without compromising cricket’s long-term health.

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Comments (27) (Closed)


Tahir A
Feb 10, 2014 06:20pm

Cricket of any form will not exist by 2024.

It has been ruined by greed and money and simply excess of it. When you have excess of everything, the interest and passion simply wanes off.

Intesar
Feb 10, 2014 07:39pm

What a complete waste of an evening by the authour. An embarassingly useless article that pretends to be either satirical or foreboding but succeeds in neither.

A bit of editorial judgement is sorely needed here.

Ajay DevGund
Feb 10, 2014 08:01pm

Very ambitious thinking, I hope Pakistan cricket will still be there, and people will have interest Pakistani Cricket

Cynic
Feb 10, 2014 08:10pm

Sadly, even this satirical piece seems optimistic. The more likely headline is: "Pakistan Barred From International Cricket." When the ICC is asked to explain, the BCCI head will respond that "no justification is necessary." CA and ECB will applaud and all other boards will remain silent.

Riz
Feb 10, 2014 08:11pm

Senseless, need to be visionary for predictions.

yousapzai
Feb 10, 2014 08:52pm

@Tahir A: Today the headline in the news paper was: Naseem Asharaf won his case in the Supreme Court of Pak as chairman PCB and he placed the judgement on the grave of Najam Sehti. But Muneeb Farooq--then anchor person of Aapas ki Bath, now caretaker CM of Punjab to punch another 35 punctures in National Election for Hamza Shehbaz--challenged the decision in supreme judicial council for review for desecrating the dead.

Typical Pakistani
Feb 10, 2014 09:06pm

Can we get out of sarcasim-mania ?

Riz
Feb 10, 2014 10:17pm

Excellent one. What about today's report on IPL spot fixing. He is right nothing gonna happen even all Indian team is involved on match fixing. They will make it legal with current ICC body. God save our beloved game.

Ahmad
Feb 10, 2014 10:53pm

An update... Prime Minister Bilawal Bhutto on Monday removed Misbah as chairman of the Pakistan Cricket Board, appointing an 11-member committee, headed by former interim PCB chief Sahir Lodhi, to run the affairs of the PCB

Alex
Feb 10, 2014 11:07pm

This might come truw as things are progressing. Haven't read a good satire i long time. NFP is so monotonous. Thank you Shan Agha. I will share this on my FB

Ajamal
Feb 10, 2014 11:42pm

Cricket affairs in Pakistan are a true reflection of our national affairs. Till Pakistan is put in order, cricket affairs won't improve.

RanjitSingh
Feb 11, 2014 12:05am

@Tahir A: The question is will pakistan exist as a country in 2024!! But yes you are right cricket has become a vehicle for the elitists and the gangsters (same?) in India (plus others) to loot as much personal wealth as possible whilst making fools of supporters of the once fantastic game. Each time a wicket is taken, a catch is dropped or a century is scored, and so on, there now exists a doubt in the mind of the average cricket fan. Shame but it is the state of the game and all because money became bigger and therefore more important than the game itself.

waqas
Feb 11, 2014 12:29am

what a load of absolute gibberish

Navid
Feb 11, 2014 01:57am

The future is glamour, money and fame; cricket is just another victim of this vicious monster.

Dr. Salaria, Aamir Ahmad
Feb 11, 2014 06:15am

What a fantasy and what an imagination?

abdulaziz
Feb 11, 2014 07:04am

@Tahir A:it sounds like sour grapes to me. Cricket will not die because of excess money, it will transform into something more exciting.

Rashid
Feb 11, 2014 08:01am

If this gov keep eat up all the PCB resources, then there will be no cricket in 2024.

S
Feb 11, 2014 10:08am

@Tahir A: maybe you'll stop watching...BUT, that's ok! Cricket doesn't need followers like you to survive

John
Feb 11, 2014 11:53am

Cricket will survive. Some nations will stop participating in big leagues. The game will survive simply because it has now become a money making machine.

asfi
Feb 11, 2014 11:58am

True after ten years we would miserably be so slow that Mr. Misbah will be our Chairman.

Simple Simon Says
Feb 11, 2014 12:40pm

@S:

"Influx of Hawala money and involvement of terrorists elements in betting and fixing of cricket is causing serious threat to national security..." (Times of India 11 Feb 2014)

Take that kool kat in your stride and dig the grave even deeper for a faster extinction.

Raghav
Feb 11, 2014 02:31pm

Pakistan did not try to resist the coup. It was trying to get the best deal for itself for a sell out which it did/could not get because of terrorism at home. No country can risk playing in Pakistan after what happened to the Lankans. Stop the holier than thou attitude already.

Mohammad Iqbal
Feb 11, 2014 02:35pm

But the PCB chairman Misbah is under pressure from all previous captains/players to take their offspings in the T20 squad. Inzamam, Salim Malik, Shahid afridi, Kamran akmal, Saeed Ajmal, all have grown up kids and are above 19 . Let us see the result.

ivehadit
Feb 11, 2014 07:17pm

Indians are happy that their ICC powerplay won them some points when they couldn't score on the field.

Ahmad Yashar
Feb 11, 2014 10:48pm

some of the comments by the indians are really funny and pathetic

whatajoke
Feb 12, 2014 06:15pm

This BIG3 dream is not going to flourish and bear fruit like the Packer Circus. There are lots of slips between the cup and the lips !

bahulayan
Feb 13, 2014 02:27pm

world cup cricket in pakistan......canot stop laughing..