ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) Chairman Ehsan Mani, after being summoned several times, finally turned up to face the National Assembly Standing Committee on Inter Provincial Coordination (IPC) here on Friday but almost landed in a soup for making uncalled for remarks about a lawmaker which he later took back to avoid a grim situation.
The committee which met here at the Pakistan Sports Complex with MNA Agha Baloch in the chair, were taken aback when Chairman PCB asked a committee member, Munawara Bibi Baloch, that if she wanted to get tickets of Pakistan Super League (PSL) he would provide her after buying them from the market.
Mani’s remarks irked all members of the committee who immediately announced to boycott the meeting in protest. The situation, however, did not get out of hand as the PCB chief immediately took back his words.
Chairman PCB, who was accompanied by director domestic cricket Haroon Rashid and other officials at the meeting, briefed the committee about the cricket affairs. He said that relocation of the entire PSL to Pakistan had paid off handsomely and the league’s fifth edition was a huge success. He disclosed that around 450 international cricketers are registered with the PSL which shows how they rated this league.
Making a startling disclosure, Mani said that before his joining as PCB head, the West Indies team was given $25000 per player for playing a T20 series in Pakistan while members of another team were paid $15000 per player for the tour.
“But this PCB regime has not paid anything extra to any player for playing in Pakistan,” he said. “Pakistan hosted Sri Lanka and other teams which was a big boost for Pakistan cricket.”
He revealed that the PCB gave 14 per cent tickets of PSL on complimentary basis. The committee members then asked Mani to give details of the recipients of free tickets to which he said that among others, Police officials were also given free tickets. “If we will not give them tickets[ to police], then they will stop our entry into our own stadium,” he remarked.
Some members of the committee clearly looked keen to probe the issue of complimentary tickets, the PCB chairman said that he always purchased his own tickets to watch the matches, therefore, there is no right of parliamentarians for free tickets.
Talking about Asia Cup, the Chairman PCB said that it is not a bilateral series between Pakistan and India, it is the Asia Cup to generate funds for emerging Asian teams. He said the Asian Cricket Council (ACC) will decide the fate of Asia cup, hinting that series could be held at neutral venue as Pakistan does not want to deprive the emerging teams from funds.
The meeting saw another ugly episode when a female tennis player entered into the meeting room to ask the IPC Minister Dr. Fehmida Mirza about the delayed prize distribution ceremony. Dr. Mirza was briefing the committee about the steps being taken to promote sports sector of the country.
Earlier, the committee was briefed by some lawmakers about the poor arrangements at PSB coaching centre at Karachi. However, Secretary IPC assured the committee that ministry and PSB would take steps to improve functioning of the said centre.
Published in Dawn, March 7th, 2020