Pakistan line up plans to shore up cricket finances

Updated 22 May 2020


PAKISTAN is as safe as anywhere in the world, says Wasim Khan.
PAKISTAN is as safe as anywhere in the world, says Wasim Khan.

LONDON: The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) is hoping for the best and preparing for the worst as it seeks to mitigate financial setbacks stemming from the Covid-19 pandemic, its chief executive, Wasim Khan, has said.

On the face of it, the disruption caused by the novel coronavirus outbreak could not have come at a worse time, striking in mid-March when the Pakistan Super League (PSL), worth about $300 million to the governing body, was about to enter the knockout stage.

Bangladesh were also moved to postpone the final leg of their Pakistan tour, which included the second and final Test and a one-off One-day International — still rare fixtures in a country which has hosted almost no international cricket for a decade.

Wasim, though, thinks the damage could have been a lot worse.

“It was a small setback, not a huge one,” the 49-year-old said in a telephone interview. “I say that because we have successfully brought test cricket back in Pakistan ... we had the MCC tour, and obviously the PSL itself was a resounding success.

“We are fortunate in many ways, that we don’t have a home series now until November.”

The board has already identified new windows in November-December for the remaining PSL matches, Wasim said, and still hoped to complete the Bangladesh fixtures in 2021.

These are not the only potential losses for the board, however, with the fate of the Asia Cup, which Pakistan was to host in September, in limbo and uncertainty still hanging over this year’s Twenty20 World Cup in Australia.

“We have been working out contingency plans, so that we can understand what the landscape may look like for us in 12 months time,” he said. “The scenario planning is based on no Asia Cup happening in September, no World Cup happening in October.

“We’re trying to understand what the full impact of that is, and we’ll know that in the next couple of weeks.”

The PCB is also in the process of selling its broadcast rights for the 2020-23 period.

The absence of a bilateral series against India, thanks to the soured relations between the neighbours, is certain to undermine its value though.

But Wasim said home fixtures against South Africa, New Zealand, Australia and England over the next couple of years would offer ‘decent value’ to broadcasters.

He conceded the key would be to get England and Australia to tour Pakistan itself, rather than continue to force their ‘home’ matches be played in the United Arab Emirates for security reasons.

Pakistan’s two-match series against Sri Lanka in December was the first Test action in the country since the deadly 2009 attack on a bus carrying the Sri Lankan touring party.

“The progress that we’ve made, there is absolutely no reason why they shouldn’t be touring in 2022,” he added. “We’ll continue to work with those cricket boards, as we will be with New Zealand and South Africa, to ensure we provide the security provision that they expect.”

Wasim felt the 40-odd international cricketers who played in the PSL could help convince teams to tour Pakistan.

“We want these players to go back and tell their countrymen this is now what is it like in Pakistan,” he said. “It’s as safe as anywhere in the world.”

With the same conviction, the PCB has ambitions to host ICC events in the 2023-31 cycle.

“By 2023, we’ll be further down the line and mature further in how we run large-scale events,” Wasim said.

“We will be doing everything we possibly can with a strong case for to host those events from 2023.”

Published in Dawn, May 22nd, 2020