NADEEM Khan....aims for revolutionary changes
NADEEM Khan....aims for revolutionary changes

KARACHI: Generally every new appointment at the top raises hopes of betterment on all fronts. In his maiden interaction with the media a day after being named as Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB)’s Director High Performance, Nadeem Khan outlined a series of plans to improve the overall structure of the sport, including the mental growth of individual players.

“No doubt there are massive challenges of what I foresee as exciting times for Pakistan cricket. The task in front will also allow me to implement a system based on sheer merit,” Nadeem said during Thursday’s video conference. “I’m extremely grateful to the PCB for giving me the opportunity of serving the country. I have worked closely with PCB on various assignments both with the present and previous managements. In my earlier stints I worked as Pakistan Under-19 [team] manager and also served on the cricket committee besides my role as the coordinator to the national selection committee.”

The former Pakistan international further vowed to utilise his experience both as a past cricketer and administrator in the new setup of National High Performance Centre — which replaces the National Cricket Academy.

“Looking at this new role, I take it as a big responsibility and I hope to deliver the task to the best of my ability considering my experience of playing and managing cricket over the years. Down the line I will be heading both departments, with regards to domestic cricket,” Nadeem said. “All cricket boards around the world strive to develop a domestic system which narrows the gap between domestic and international cricket as much as possible so the players can transit easy from domestic to international cricket.

“Personally speaking the one area where a lot can be achieved is the mental growth of players. Other nations pay a huge amount of attention to this facet while developing their players. I will leave no stone unturned because unless we have players who are mentally strong, we cannot strive to reach the top.”

Commenting on merging of domestic cricket and high performance, the ex-Test slow left-armer observed it was something he always advocated whenever he appeared on various platforms.

“I am glad that I am joining the PCB in an exciting phase when the two departments [domestic and high performance] are being merged. I have always thought that these two departments have the same role to deliver which is the development of top-class players,” he emphasised. “For a long time these departments were functioning in isolation, which meant that at times some of the talented players were lost, now with the merger, the players will benefit a lot since the goals of the two departments is from now would be one. That will help immensely the process of developing top-class players for the highest level.

“My priorities, moreover, would be to improve the quality of players, quality of umpires and referees would also need to be improved while for me the most important thing would be to improve the pitches and grounds as these are two vital parts of cricket.

“I would also strive to improve the infrastructure which is as important as any other aspect in delivering quality cricket. There are many things linked with these areas, one of the foremost is the earnings and salaries of players. One of my long term goals would be to improve the salaries of the players, you will already see the difference this year and we would continue to grow on the same lines in the years to come.”

Outlining the future of High Performance, Nadeem maintained there’ll be no compromise on the standards because his chief aim is to develop a system of churning out world-class cricketers from the onset and also create a tracking system for the players.

“To make this possible we need a consistent and robust plan [for the National High Performance Centre] which will on the lines of modern techniques and coaches. We would need high-quality coaches and we would strive to develop coaches through the provision of top-quality training and courses for coaches on modern lines so the coaches are equipped with modern methods and techniques of coaching. And if the need be, we’ll hesitate in engaging foreign experts from time to time in order to improve the overall standard of our own coaches.

“We would also want to develop a player tracking system to ensure that players who play at the age-group level are not lost. Through the tracking system we will be able to monitor a certain player’s progress, his fitness and discipline record and his skill level in a meritorious environment.

“We will introduce talent identification protocols to ensure meritorious selections which we will start at the grassroots level all the way up to high performance level. Further we will periodically review the development and work that we have done with the best possible transparency and accountability of all involved.”

Nadeem, meanwhile, pointed out the fans would be thronging the ground in large numbers during the domestic matches.

“That has been a glaring miss every season when the first-class games are staged. One saw empty stadium/ground with fans nowhere to be seen in most matches. My plan is to attract sponsors and quality broadcasters and for that we need to attract fans to domestic cricket,” he said. “I would prioritise work in these areas to ensure the presence of fans in grounds for domestic cricket.”

Nadeem paid tribute to the outgoing directors — Mudassar Nazar (Academies) and Haroon Rashid (Domestic Cricket) —while pledging to follow their plans. “Both Mudassar Nazar and Haroon Rashid are both my seniors, who guided me in various phases of my career over the years. I would definitely try to carry forward their legacy.”

Published in Dawn, May 15th, 2020