NCA gets new name as PCB rings changes in coaching setup

Updated 19 Apr 2020

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Facility to now be called National High Performance Centre. — AFP/File
Facility to now be called National High Performance Centre. — AFP/File

KARACHI: The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) in their endeavour to close the bridge between international and domestic cricket is in the midst of revamping the Lahore-based National Cricket Academy (NCA) by renaming the facility as the National High Performance Centre (NHPC).

Wasim Khan, the chief executive officer of PCB, while sharing details of the new venture with Dawn on Thursday, expressed confidence that the incoming setup would help to improve the overall standard of cricket in the country.

“We have already sought applications to this effect by advertising four key positions which are going to be part of core team of the newly-instituted National High Perfor­mance Centre which will interlink with the regional high performance centres in Karachi and Multan,” Wasim revealed while talking to Dawn from Lahore. “In the next phase we are going to have further regional centres in Rawalpindi, Peshawar and Quetta. The salient feature of this exercise is to streamline system to make it more effective and to close the gap between domestic and international cricket.

In the first segment, PCB will be appointing Director High Performance, Head of High Performance Coaching, Head of International Player Development and High Performance Operations Manager with April 29 being the deadline for applying process.

“Apart from bridging the gap [between domestic and international cricket], the new system will support the creation of a more streamlined and joined up structure,” Wasim explained. “Because historically the NCA has supported training camps for our international men and women teams, while our domestic department has primarily run our first-class game. Both these areas will now be brought together under a Director High Performance who will have his operational teams working under him across domestic and high performance. That’s why we have now decided to rename the existing NCA as the National High Performance Centre.

“My philosophy is clear-cut because our prime objective in the planned changes in the structure is by ensuring areas such as facilities, playing surfaces, coaching and programmes support our aims at international level which will become a more focussed priority through a shared-goal across both areas.”

Elaborating as to how will it all work at different tiers in the coming setup, Wasim said: “The respective roles of Academy Director and Director Domestic will no longer exist and will instead be replaced by a Director of High Performance, Head of International Development and Head of High Performance Coaching.

“The Head of High Performance Coaching is responsible for raising the standard of coaching support to the most talented players, and for ensuring that the Cricket Association network is aligned behind the national strategy.

“This role holder will set up re-training programmes for Level III and Level IV coaches and will also revamp our current coaching course in line with international standards. The Head of International Player Development will be responsible for comprehensively identifying, developing and preparing players so that they become world-class cricketers for the senior Pakistan men’s team. The High Performance (HP) set-up will support the six Cricket Association coaching set-ups and their High Performance programmes.”

Wasim, the brainchild behind the ambitious scheme, observed that the six cricket associations would liaison between the NHPC and the development programme in their respective territory to become more viable.

“The HP team will liaise and work closely with the Cricket Association set-ups where the PCB medical and sport science team is already aligned and supporting the ongoing development of the six associations’ medical teams. The principle will be the same on coach education and player development.

Wasim confirmed that only the NCA will be renamed while the HP centres would operate under their current status. “As you know we already have the HP centres in Karachi and Multan, with Peshawar, Quetta and Rawalpindi in the pipeline. It is important to note that when we launched the new six team structure, I made it clear that it could take three years before it is properly up and running.

“A complete overhaul of the old domestic structure to a new fully operational revamped structure takes time. And I’m very confident that we are moving in the right direction.”

When asked why the changes are being brought up and how beneficial would it be for Pakistan cricket, Wasim responded: “Most full nations struggle with bridging the gap between their domestic cricket and international cricket. When you try and understand why you quickly realise that there needs to be as much of a seamless link and transition from domestic to the international game.

“If you don’t have a vision and a clear purpose of what you want from your cricket system then you’ll struggle to get ahead. We want to create consistent success through design, not luck. Once operational, this new set-up will start to move us forward. This will not be the panacea for everything, but it will significantly improve how we run and deliver our professional cricket.”

The PCB official assured that transparency will be the focal point of all appointments in the upcoming structure after being queried that in the past there had been opposition to this with people saying the whole exercise is just eyewash.

“Firstly there seems to be a notion that all roles are already aligned to certain individuals. Everywhere around the world, individuals match up to role and are identified in a process, whether it be sport or business — this isn’t a Pakistan cricket phenomenon. When people apply for roles and don’t get them, they get emotional and blame the system,” Wasim pointed out.

“The fact is that many people don’t read job descriptions and apply because they believe they can do the job. Skills and attributes are set out clearly and you look to match against them. This exercise is an open process and the best candidates that fit the brief, job qualification and experience will be given the roles.

“I can give you the example of David Parsons — an individual who helped structure and set up the high performance system for the England & Wales Cricket Board and has been working for them for 10 years. That is why England became number one during his time across different formats.

“In November, I brought David in as a consultant to help us with assessing our programmes and he interviewed 15 people, including coaches, players, administrators and ex-players to get their views and a roadmap for the way forward for Pakistan cricket has been produced.

“In our case, David will support the new team during the first six months as a consultant; despite some rumours he will not be taking up any of the three roles, nor will PCB be outsourcing the National High Performance Centre in Lahore,” Wasim added.

In the meantime, Wasim pledged that he and his team will leave no stone unturned to make Pakistan cricket a strong force. “We will continue to take strong and thought-through decisions for the good of Pakistan cricket. Not everything will be agreeable with everyone and I respect that, nor will we get everything right, but my job is to make tough unpopular decisions at times for the good of the game — I won’t take a backward step in doing what we believe is right. In the last 12 months we have delivered.

“We have successfully brought Test cricket back; we have revamped the domestic structure; the HBL PSL has been entirely delivered in Pakistan; the MCC has toured and we have had visits from the CEOs from Australia, England and Ireland. We are applying to bring ICC tournaments back to Pakistan from 2023-2031.

“Moreover, in the next few weeks PCB will be announcing a 5-year strategy for the game. It has been exciting to have been involved over the last 12 months driving change and I look forward to many new challenges in the next 12 months. It remains a privilege and an honor to be at the forefront of making decisions and getting things done.”

Published in Dawn, April 17th, 2020