KARACHI: Former Pakistan fast bowler AAaqib Javed on Tueday said he fears for the future of Pakistan cricket and it is the need of the hour that the players for a players association to protect their’ rights, especially keeping in view the uncertain situation caused by the coronavirus pandemic

In an exclusive interview in DawnNewsTV's program ‘Replay’, Aaqib said: “The players association must be formed immediately and should start by working for the welfare of deserving cricketers. All big cricketing nations have their players associations and they always fight for the rights of the players.

“In my opinion, this is the best time to form the players association which can give the players a platform, a voice to take up their financial problems,” he added.

Aaqib further said if cricket does not resume in the next six months, many boards including the PCB, may not be able to maintain the current system of managing things in a smooth manner and, God forbid, if the corona pandemic situation persists, indoor cricket will be the last option left to generate some revenue.

“The ICC and all cricket boards are heavily dependent on TV rights and they will be feeling the heat in case there is no activity in the coming months,” he said. “I feel that the ICC T20 World Cup is really key here and I sincerely hope that things get better and the tournament is held which will be a big boost for world cricket. “But in case the circumstances force ICC to hold the event indoors, it will be a huge challenge, especially in terms of logistic and precautionary measures.”

To a question, Aaqib said he fully supports the idea of criminalising match fixing and demanded life bans for the culprits.

“Unfortunately, we haven’t set any example in the past for the the fixers who indulged in match fixing practices,” he observed. “There were so many cases and a number of Pakistan cricketers were involved in fixing during the past, but we did not punish them strictly. And that is why, in my opinion the PCB should announce life bans for fixing and the tainted players should not be allowed to return to the Pakistan team.”

Aaqib also urged the PCB and Pakistan team management to plan skills improvement plan for the cricketers along with the online fitness tests.

“The online fitness tests can help our crickeres to remain fit in the current situation and we need to have a check on the players so that they remain focussed on cricket,” said Aaqib.

“But the coaches should also make plans to improve basic skills of young cricketers which can be done at home too. A lot of work can be done on the bowlers like how to take seam positions, practice with heavy or wet balls and many other things which can improve their performance.”

Aaqib disclosed that Lahore Qalandars received 1500-plus applications for financial help during their support program amid the coronavirus crisis. “We are trying to help as many cricket related persons as we can, especially the scorers, local and club umpires and other support and ground staff which is surely facing financial issues as there has been no cricket for over a month now.”

Published in Dawn, April 22nd, 2020