KARACHI: Citing flawed regional set-up as the primary reason for Pakistan cricket’s recent decline, former captain Aamir Sohail insists that one last ad hoc should be imposed on the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) to steer the game out of troubled waters.

“If you want to genuinely address an issue, you must look into the problems at the grassroots. There are numerous and massive faults in Pakistan’s regional cricket that have ruined our game. To mention a few, the selection process in the regions is grossly flawed, incompetent administrators have been running the regional affairs for years and years due to which real talent hasn’t had the chance to showcase itself and that has negatively affected Pakistan cricket,” Aamir said in an interview to Dawn on Wednesday. “Unless we limit and redefine the role of the regions, our cricket will continue to suffer.

“Secondly, there are huge anomalies in our club system which is the driving force of any cricket system; many fake clubs across the country continue to exist and at times they are used for supporting the wrong policies of the regions. The clubs system must be remodelled on professional lines if Pakistan cricket is to survive and move ahead,” the ex-Test opener added.

Responding to a question regarding recent dissolution of the high-profile PCB cricket committee (headed by Shakil Sheikh) which according to the PCB would now be comprising cricketers only, Aamir said Pakistan cricket urgently needed people with good knowledge of the game.

“We need cricket-literate persons with a clear vision to run Pakistan cricket on competitive lines. Unfortunately, all the measures being taken by the current PCB regime are cosmetic and will have no bearing on improving the game. When Shaharyar Khan took charge he closed academies which disrupted the system; and now he is talking about reviving the academies and developing grass-roots cricket. Can this be called a vision? To me, we are just groping and going nowhere,” he lamented.

Aamir went on to add: “Recently, the PCB didn’t follow a proper procedure by signing an MoU with LUMS for setting up a biomechanics lab. What is the criterion for this sudden move? Was it all advertised by the Board?”

He was absolutely categorical when asked if he would consider working in any capacity if offered a role in the present PCB. “Would any cricketing person with the slightest self-respect accept to work with the current PCB administration which has no proper plans?” he retorted.

On whether Pakistan cricket could see any light at the end of the tunnel with Shaharyar and PCB executive committee in place, Aamir reckoned they had been taking superficial measures negating their own verbal claims.

“They talk of betterment, but they themselves are working against it. Recently, the PCB [in its annual general body meeting] in passing a resolution against so-called government interference has in a way challenged the prime minister [patron of PCB] and the government, the same government which got them appointed to their present positions. We should also not forget that the current PCB constitution has been challenged in the high court.”

In this entire scenario, what then could be the solution to put Pakistan cricket back on the right track?

Aamir said: “To get out of all this mess, Pakistan cricket needs one last ad hoc. And this ad hoc in a given time-frame should reform the entire cricket system at regional and district levels. Without this I am afraid we would not be able to salvage our game.”

Meanwhile, commenting on England cricket revamp which also included the appointment of a director (Andrew Strauss) after the 2015 World Cup debacle and if Pakistan could adopt a similar strategy, Aamir maintained Pakistan cricket should be developed according to its very peculiarities. “What was wrong with our own system [which worked properly in the past]?” he questioned. “When our cricket authorities tinkered with it without any thought process, problems started.

“Look, the demography of Pakistan is completely different from that of England. Unlike the UK, we have a huge population here playing cricket which needs to be accommodated in the system. The slogan of quality-and-not-quantity has failed in modern-day cricket. Had it not been the case, England [after last year’s slump] would not have improved. So, it’s about setting the right standards for the players. And unfortunately, we have not worked in this area in recent times,” Aamir regretted.

Commenting on striking an appropriate balance between the domains of a chief selector, captain and head coach in team selection, the ex-captain said showing common sense and right communication skills is the key.

“When I became chief selector some 12 years ago, I worked with Javed Miandad and Inzamam-ul-Haq who were my seniors. But we used to sit together and sort out issues in discussions and through crisp communication. Convincing power in these conversations was regarded as the decisive factor. And the chairman, whenever required, used to help us out too,” Aamir concluded.

Published in Dawn, April 21st, 2016