LAHORE: Former Test pacer Sarfraz Nawaz, while raising questions over the Pakistan Cricket Board’s plan of inviting foreign players to play domestic cricket, has also criticised the national team management for calling paceman Mohammad Amir to England.

“The [PCB] plan to invite foreign cricketers does not suit the local players. The PCB has already shrunk playing opportunities for the Pakistan cricketers by reducing the domestic first-class structure from 16 teams to six in the new set-up. And now if you open the doors for foreign cricketers the opportunity for our local players will shrink further,” Sarfraz said during an interview with Dawn on Thursday.

On Wednesday, PCB chairman Ehsan Mani while talking to sports journalists at an international forum disclosed that his target was to bring foreign players to Pakistan to feature in country’s domestic cricket.

“First of all, at such an old age of 75, Mani should not hold this coveted and very responsible office. And secondly his plan of bringing foreign cricketers [to Pakistan] will not favour of our talent,” the 71-year-old Sarfraz said.

“Look, despite offers of hefty payments to foreign players, world’s current top players have not been willing to come and play in the Pakistan Super League (PSL) because of security issues. In these circumstances, will any quality foreign player can be attracted to our domestic cricket, considering what is being offered to our local players?” he pointed out.

“Overall this proposal [of inviting foreign players to Pakistan] will do nothing but further destroy Pakistan’s domestic cricket, which this incumbent PCB regime has already done at a large scale,” Sarfraz, who played 55 Tests and 45 ODIs for Pakistan from 1969 to 1984, lamented.

Sarfraz also appealed to Prime Minister Imran Khan, who is former’s old fast-bowling partner, to take notice of a five-year cricket development plan announced recently by the present PCB regime at a time when the body had already completed two years of its three-year term.

“In fact this PCB regime is trying to fool everyone and Imran Khan should take notice of the current state of affairs of cricket,” he maintained.

Underlining that even the joint population of England and Australia was half of Pakistan, Sarfraz said the PCB instead of increasing teams for domestic cricket, had reduced it from 16 to six.

Sarfraz highlighted that in England, where the population was around 50.5 million, more than twenty teams were featuring in first-class cricket, while Australia’s population was just 24.99 million, and they have six teams on their domestic first-class circuit.

“But Cricket Australia has a very strong cricket system at school level too to compensate for a good number of talented players and spot talent which is not available in Pakistan,” he said. Sarfraz urged the PCB to immediately restore departmental cricket at least for T20 and one-day formats, if not possible for four-day format.

Meanwhile, commenting on Amir’s inclusion in the national squad, Sarfraz said the Pakistan team in England already had eight bowlers and there was no need to send Aamir, who had disappointed the nation by opting out of Test cricket.

Sarfraz also supported Federal Information Minister Shibli Sarfraz’s statement in which the latter asked the PCB to give its media rights to Pakistan Televisions it would ensure live coverage of Pakistan’s matches across the country.

Published in Dawn, July 24th, 2020