QUETTA: Pakistan Cricket Board chairman Ehsan Mani addresses reporters on Wednesday.—AP
QUETTA: Pakistan Cricket Board chairman Ehsan Mani addresses reporters on Wednesday.—AP

LAHORE: The 53rd meeting of the Board of Governors of the Pakistan Cricket Board held in Quetta on Wednesday ended abruptly after a majority of the BoG members refused to discuss the agenda which comprised PCB’s plan of abolishing regions and departments as well as a proposal to delegate major powers to PCB chairman Ehsan Mani and newly-appointed MD Wasim Khan.

The meeting barely lasted ten minutes after all the BoG members had received the agenda for discussion. One of the members, Nouman Butt, immediately moved a resolution against the proposed domestic restructuring plan and also declared the appointment of the MD as “null and void” before the irate members walked out.

When Mani advised the BoG members to include the resolution for discussion in the point of ‘any other item’, five, out of the seven members expressed their serious reservations on the agenda and insisted the members to first discuss their resolution.

“Give us time to first study the documents, which are around 300 in number, and then we will be in a better position to discuss it as the key issues, relating to the fate of regions and departments, are to be discussed,” Nouman Butt, the representative of Sialkot region, told Dawn while defending the stance of the movers of the resolution.

Those BoG members who signed the resolution include Nouman, Kabir Ahmad (Fata), Shah Dost (Quetta), Sharez Abdullah Khan (Lahore) and Ayaz Butt (KRL).

“Our views on the agenda are expressed in our resolution so first it should be taken for discussion,” he insisted.

“When the [PCB] chairman was not ready and tried to dictate the terms we decided to leave the house.”

The resolution moved by the BoG members plainly rejected the proposed plan to restructure domestic cricket.

“Any move to abolish departments and regions in the restructuring of domestic cricket is hereby rejected and unacceptable,” the text of the resolution read.

“A Domestic Cricket Restructuring Committee (DCRC) comprising all four members of BoGs representing four regions with a departmental representation be constituted to firm up proposals for domestic restructuring within the next 10 days and present the same in the special BoGs meeting to be held on April 30, 2019 in Lahore.

“The DCRC shall be headed by a regional president representing on the BoGs as its chairman and shall be empowered to invite and seek views of stakeholders as and when required. The constitution of Pakistan Cricket Board shall be amended in the light of recommendations/proposals of the DCRC,” said the resolution.

Reacting to the development, Mani was disappointed.

“I am hugely disappointed by today’s events as I was looking forward to an interactive, productive and constructive discussion, which was aimed at taking Pakistan cricket forward,” Mani said.

“Yesterday, we called on the honourable Chief Minister of Balochistan and engaged in fruitful and enlightening discussions to promote cricket in Balochistan. It is, therefore, particularly disappointing that the representative from Balochistan also refused to return for the BoG meeting,” the PCB chief added.

When asked as the discussion on the proposed plan on regions and departments could not start, how the BoG members could have reservations against it, Nouman disclosed that the PCB chairman last Monday held a dinner in the honour of seven BoG members, and there he had categorically expressed his determination to get the plans implemented at all costs.

“When the chairman was trying to dictate his terms on us we five members, out of seven, decided to prepare a resolution against it and moved it before the start of the discussion on the agenda,” Nouman said.

When reminded the PCB had the stance that as the audited accounts for 2017-18 could not be approved in the meeting, now the ICC would not release the PCB share from its income of first six months, Nouman said it was the chairman’s responsibility to conduct the proceedings smoothly.

“How can we pass the audited accounts, just to get the ICC funds to be spent on the luxuries of MD Wasim Khan,” Nouman further said.

Responding to another question, Nouman said though the BoG members approved the appointment of Wasim no perks or benefits were approved for him, adding the matter would also be taken as to on what grounds the MD had been receiving salaries and perks.

It may be mentioned that Mani on the instructions from the PCB patron, Prime Minister Imran Khan, seeks to replace the existing domestic cricket structure -- based on 16 regional and many departmental teams which participate in first-class and Grade-II tournaments -- with a provincial system under which only six teams will be allowed to play first-class games.

If the new structure is introduced, it is feared that thousands of cricketers representing various departments on domestic circuit will be fired.

Moreover, with the introduction of the provincial system, the regional system will cease to exist. But as four representatives of the regions and three from the departments are BoG members, implementation of the new system means they will also go home.

And asking the BoG members to delegate major powers to PCB chairman and MD, the chairman can be authorised to recommend to the patron to remove any member, does not suit them.

Interestingly, according to one of the clauses of the existing PCB constitution, the BoG members hold such powers that with 3/4th majority they can even remove PCB chairman. The BoG members also elect the chairman.

Nouman also raised an objection over Wasim being a British national, as according to a Supreme Court of Pakistan ruling no person holding foreign nationality could be appointed in any statuary national body. “It is also a serious point to be taken up for discussion,” he said, adding the PCB chairman “should avoid the role of dictator if he wants to serve Pakistan cricket”.

Nouman welcomed PM’s move of taking notice of the recent development and appealed him to reach out to the regional presidents whom Sialkot’s BoG member reckoned were in a better position to offer suggestions for the betterment of the cricket.

“We are elected individuals and it is a very tough job to reach these posts through elections, and as we are attached with grassroots cricket, the prime minister should invite us if he wants to make changes in the country’s cricket set-up. These bureaucrats have no knowledge about the grassroots level cricket,” Nouman stated.

Meanwhile, a PCB spokesperson on the condition of anonymity rejected the rumours that the prime minister may impose ad-hoc on the PCB under the prevailing situation.

“In case of ad hoc by the patron, the ICC will suspend the PCB membership, like it had done with Sri Lanka,” the spokesman said.

Later, the PCB also issued a press release on the subject.

“The [BoG] meeting was adjourned for a brief period pursuant to five members attempting to table a resolution, which was not part of the agenda. The PCB Chairman had proposed any business other than the agenda could be considered under Any Other Items at the end of the meeting,” said the press release. “However, the Khan Research Laboratory and the four regional representatives refused to return to complete the meeting.

The PCB chairman was quoted as saying in the release: “We reaffirm our commitment to doing what is right for Pak­istan cricket and once again becoming a strong force in the world game, and must not get derailed by personal agendas.”

Published in Dawn, April 18th, 2019