KARACHI: Pakistan Cricket Board’s newly-appointed Managing Director Wasim Khan has said that players in Pakistan need to work on their mental strength in order to meet challenges of modern day cricket and to be counted among the leading Test nations in the world of cricket.
Talking about the mental strength of the players, Wasim said: “We need to work on the mental strength of our players right from the age-group cricket. It is not good that the people affiliate terms like ‘mercurial’ with our side and say that we crumble under pressure. We are a proud cricket nation and need to get rid of that tag. We need to use sports psychologist, something which is being done by all the top sportsmen and sportswomen around the world.”
The MD also stressed that the PCB can’t afford knee-jerk reaction with regards to the future of the head coach because “ultimately those decisions will affect Pakistan.” “We have to decide if there is someone in the country who can do the job much more efficiently or do we need to bring someone from abroad? Or do we continue with the same coach?” he stated.
He also hinted at a new model of the selection committee. “We need to think outside the box. You don’t need a traditional selection committee comprising 3 to 4 members. The provincial coaches can be asked to prepare a report on the opposition players and let the chief selector know if they come across someone who has got potential,” said Wasim.
Commenting on the revamping of domestic cricket which has been in the news for a long time, Wasim said: “We are waiting for the PM’s approval regarding the constitution. We are going to roll it out as soon as we get a go-ahead from him.” He also spoke about the need of good wickets in the domestic competitions. “We have had 25 scores of less than 100 in the last two seasons. We are looking to improve the wickets because no matter how hard you train, if you don’t get good wickets, you will never produce good players,” he emphasised.
Wasim spoke candidly about women’s cricket too. “The way the women cricket had been neglected in the country is a reflection on how women are treated in the society and added that he is keen to change such trends and enhance the status of women cricketers. “We have done things differently now. Earlier, ours was the only women’s team that did not travel business class when travelling more than five hours. They do so now and we have also increased their daily allowances and match fee to bring it to the level of the men’s side,” said Wasim in a recent interview.
“The women playing domestic cricket will now earn 10,000 per match. What we have is fighting spirit and resilience. A lot of these women have to go through a lot to be where they are right now,” observed Wasim who has lived most of his life in the UK.
It has also been learnt by Dawn that that Kookaburra balls will be used by the PCB for the upcoming domestic season to bridge the gap between first-class cricket and international cricket. Earlier, Pakistan was the only country that was using different ball-types for its first-class and international cricket.
Wasim added that the PCB will have six high-performance centres in all provinces where the facilities of nutritionist, psychologist, physical trainers and coaches will be available to the players. He also revealed that a few players, who are playing first-class in England, had their requests denied by PCB of letting them stay over there. “We told them you have to come and play under the new system if you want to remain in contention for the Sri Lanka series,” disclosed Wasim.
He acknowledged the team’s dismal performances in Test cricket of late and said that they will have to work hard for positive results. “A health check of the nation is how they perform in Test cricket. The Test Championship is beginning for us in September and we want to be in the final. But we need to work hard for that. Our performances right now are ordinary.”
“All the players playing the first-class cricket and the second XI will be given central contracts by their provincial teams. They can earn up to two million in a season. Those turning out for the cities will also get paid,” said Wasim.
Speaking on the PCB’s plan of staging the entire PSL in Pakistan next year, Wasim said, “We are investing heavily in the infrastructure and refurbishing the Rawalpindi and Multan stadiums. Our goal is to stage the whole PSL in Pakistan next year”.
Speaking about the team’s inability to win overseas, Khan said that they are planning 12 months ahead of their tours. “We get caught short when we tour Australia. To address it we are sending our batsmen earlier to Australia to prepare for the series. We are planning to send our top 3-4 players for county cricket ahead of our Test series against England in England next year. So when the series arrives, these guys are ready. We will look to provide them to the counties on a subsidy. But, this is the investment that we will have to make for Pakistan cricket,” said Wasim Khan.
He also told that a security delegation from Sri Lanka is coming to Pakistan this month and will visit Karachi and Lahore — the proposed venues for the two-match Test series in October.
He also talked about the need of improvement in the governance structure front. “We want to bring accountability because of which Ehsan Mani has split roles. As an MD, I am responsible for what I have to deliver,” said the MD.
“If you can’t deliver then the PCB is wrong place for you. We have to get right people everywhere if we have to move forward,” warned Wasim. He said that working at the PCB should not be an entitlement but rather a privilege. “I am truly honoured to be leading the PCB’s executive team. If I wanted security, I could have stayed in England. My family is coming here. If I wasn’t committed, I wouldn’t have come here,” he concluded.
Published in Dawn, August 3rd, 2019