THERE is the fable that once a king who asked his courtesans what could the words be that would be truthful and apt whether he was in joy or grief. To that the wisest of them all answered after much thought: “This too shall pass”.

That is all I can say for Najam Sethi, the man who wanted to be king but who forgot about time being ephemeral. Four or so years back, after almost a year’s battle that was like watching Michael Douglas and Kathleen Turner in The War Of The Roses — now there was Zaka Ashraf on top, now there was Sethi — it eventually settled on Shaharyar Khan to be the compromise choice.

But Sethi played him like Zaheer Abbas played the Indian spinners at home all those years ago and eventually grasped the throne that he yearned so much for. Fitting it was that just as then PM Nawaz Sharif refused to grant Zaka an audience despite many requests when he wanted to firm his position as Chairman PCB, so did now PM Imran Khan refuse the overtures from Sethi.

And so he went, resigned to his fate (pun intended). So what would read in front of Sethi in the PCB scorecard that has been there for decades, even when it was known as the BCCP — which would have been more pertinent for Sethi as under him it would have elaborated into ‘Board for Control of Cricket in PSL’ and not what it was an abbreviation of: ‘Board of Control for Cricket in Pakistan’.

So what was the score that Sethi left behind and what is the potential score that Ehsan Mani could post given his track record?

Well, I always believed that Sethi lost the plot and the forest for the tress. The man at the top is there for good governance and oversight; he is responsible for ensuring that the Standard Operating Procedures are being followed. He delegates by accepting responsibility. I’ve learned that in Management 101 in my business school and from over 30 years of corporate experience, especially C-Suite positions I’ve held. You look at yourself and you ask: Am I sweating the small stuff or am I doing good governance and ensuring stability and devising long term growth for the organization?

Sethi lost the basics of top management. He let the first class structure go to the dogs. The departments had to fend for themselves without any constructive dialogue with the PCB. Organizations like UBL have talked of withdrawing from the cricket scene. Yet, Sethi just talked the language of PSL.

But even in PSL he looked and played the part of an event manager. At his level, and especially because he called PSL his baby, he never realized that his job was transparency and good governance. And if he did then he failed miserably in the job as no audit came to light for the three years the PSL has been running.

Even as PCB Chairman, and not just PSL’s, he did not have a financial audit done; if he did it wasn’t posted on PCB’s website as is the requirement. In fact ICC requires each of their boards to submit one every year, or at least used to when I once interviewed an ICC Chairman. I once received a copy of the Australian Cricket Board Annual report that is something like 100 pages with a P&L, Balance Sheet and all the financial expenses listed along with a Chairman’s Report at the beginning.

It was this that a PCB Chairman needs to have a handle on. Something that Sethi didn’t do for whatever reason. It is this that he has to answer for, not the success of PSL on the field. Organizing PSL was a no brainer. He entered after IPL, Big Bash and even CPL had set the rules of engagement which one only had to copy. Zaka, unfit as he also was for the PCB Chairman’s post, started it two years earlier, except he wanted to hold it in Pakistan. And in that year he had only an eight day window. Which is why it fell through. Had his brief not been to hold it in Pakistan, the PSL would have had a similar impact two years before it eventually was held.

Sethi hired Salman Sarwar Butt (the man who had put together the PSL document in the first place under Zaka) to organize the first PSL which was a great success and then took over himself after all the hard work had been done and the structure laid out. If that’s not true then the Emirates Cricket Board would not have hired Butt to organise the Emirates own T20 League that will be held later this year.

As such the scorecard reads a bit dim for Sethi, despite his claims of success, even for PSL. He may have been the driving force behind PSL yes, but then that’s the event manager’s job in the end. His job was to have a timely audit done and publish it. In that he has failed. And that’s what counts.

Perhaps it is the best time then that someone like Mani comes in. He’s an experienced Chartered Accountant and has handled the office of cricket affairs when he was President ICC on behalf of Pakistan. His first task should be to run an audit, and a re-audit if there has indeed been one but not made public. Then to post it on the PCB website. He must also take any action necessary if corruption is found out in PSL or other PCB affairs. All he has to do is follow PM Imran and offer a percentage to whistle blowers within PCB.

Following on further from the PM, Mani also has to cut down on the number of his ‘cabinet’ as well as perks that the executives enjoy, possibly unaudited at that as there is nothing public (the last Annual Report posted on PCB Website is that of 2010).

Mani also has to do a staff appraisal to see who is suitable for the position the individual is holding. In PCB today there are several people who have risen to the top who would flunk even a business communication exam let alone principals of management. It is not just a case of overstaffing, it is also one of ‘mis-staffing’.

He is the next man in; but he must be tough. Like Imran did in 1982 he must build his own team and fill it on merit and men and women who are competent and who have integrity. It’s the call of the hour and call of the incoming Chairman. He should do the due diligence straight away otherwise as a wise man once said, this too shall pass.

Published in Dawn, August 26th, 2018

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