KARACHI: Pakistan cricket is defined by emotions, said cricket historian and author Richard Heller at the 9th Karachi Literature Festival (KLF) on Saturday.
“This country has a really special relationship with its cricket which is not seen anywhere else,” Heller said during his talk titled ‘Howzat! The Madness that is Cricket’. “There is never a dull moment in Pakistan cricket.”
Heller was joined in the discussion by Shaharyar Mohammad Khan, former chairman of the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB), and journalist Sohaib Alvi, who was moderating the session.
Shaharyar agreed with Heller and said public support was something which lifted the country’s performance in the sport. “There is madness in public support,” he added.
Taking the disussion forward, Alvi inquired Shaharyar about the selection process to which the former PCB chief admitted that the process wasn’t transparent. “There is corruption,” he said. “I am not sure if the team we sent for the U-19 championship was selected on merit. There have been political factors involved.”
Shaharyar, citing India’s successful run in the U-19 championship, said: “Look at India, they have dug out really good talent. I do not think that we have a similar mix of players.”
He stressed that in order to work towards a better future the Board needed to start nurturing cricketers at a younger age. “By saying a younger age, I am not talking about 19 year olds but as young as 13 year olds,” he said.
Sohaib added to the former PCB supremo’s comments and said perhaps revival of school cricket could turn the country’s fortunes.
Shaharyar agreed and recalled that revival of school cricket was something he worked upon while he was at the helm of the Board affairs.
In response to a question arguing that no change in the system could work until the Board fixed the poor pitch-making in the domestic circuit, the former PCB chief agreed there was a dire need to prepare good wickets. “Good pitches play a key role in the development of batsmen. It is one of the reasons that our batsmen continue to struggle as they do not get to train on proper wickets,” he admitted.
Published in Dawn, February 11th, 2018