KARACHI: Chairman, Pakistan Cricket Board Ehsan Mani has emphasised that the PCB is now a stronger, more credible and thoroughly professional institution while he also echoed the fans’ sentiments that it is time that solid team performances be converted into winning results.
In a detailed and exclusive interview with Dawn, the former ICC President reiterated that the return of Test cricket, hosting of the entire HBL Pakistan Super League 2020 matches and visits of Marylebone Cricket Club, Bangladesh U-16 Boys and Women sides in the past 12 months is a testament to the PCB’s global image as a trustworthy and well-reputed cricket board.
On the performance of the national side, Mani expressed optimism that head coach and chief selector Misbah-ul-Haq now had got his feet under the table and, based on his 12-month experience, can now finalise his future strategy.
“You can only pass an accurate and informed judgement on the performance of the PCB when you carry out a comparative study. Although every administration tried their best during their tenures, this management has achieved what others could not, at least, in the past decade,” said Mani, who is one of the most respected and recognised personalities in international cricket.
“International teams were unwilling to come to Pakistan because of the trust deficit. In 2017 and 2018, the PCB paid for the World XI and West Indies players to visit here and while I acknowledge these were ice-breakers, we have hosted four international series as part of the Future Tours Programme without offering any inducements.
“Furthermore, nearly 425 foreign players expressed interest in playing in the HBL Pakistan Super League 2020 with 40-odd spending nearly a month in Pakistan during the 30-match event. These players travelled around the country and returned as our ambassadors.
“These are clear indicators of the reputation and credibility this administration holds in the international cricket community. This is also because previously there were no strong voices at the ICC Board that could present Pakistan’s case effectively.
“The same applies to PCB’s discussions with other cricket bodies,” said Mani as he went on to elaborate about the efforts made on every front to enhance the image and credibility of Pakistan Cricket and the PCB. “For example, Wasim Khan’s outstanding presentation on security in Pakistan to the MCC World Cricket Committee played a crucial part in the world’s most prestigious club to send a team in February. He was believed because they trusted him and there was no doubt about his credibility.
“The involvement of some of the elite former cricketers in Pakistan cricket today is a further endorsement of our vision, strategy, reputation and roadmap for the future. It also indicates the respect we have and give to cricketers who have served this great game with honour and dignity.
“During the difficult Covid-19 period and contrary to the general view, we sent our team to England that further enhanced our reputation internationally. As a result, powerful and respected voices in England cricket have spoken out in our support and favour, urging the England and Wales Cricket Board to honour its commitment to tour Pakistan in 2022,” added Mani, who is the Chairman of the powerful ICC’s Finance and Commercial Affairs Committee and was also approached by a number of ICC Members to again head the global body.
Mani, however, admitted that on the field, Pakistan’s performance has failed to show signs of improvement. The men’s side have stayed sixth and seventh in ODIs and Tests respectively, but have slipped from number-one to fourth in T20Is following the annual ICC update.
In the past 12 months, they have won two Tests and lost three, won two out of three ODIs (one match was rain abandoned) and won three T20Is out of 12 with three washouts.
Separately, Pakistan U-19 finished third in the ICC U-19 Cricket World Cup 2020, while the women’s side achieved fifth position (up by two) in the eight-team ICC Women’s Championship but failed to qualify directly for the ICC Women’s World Cup 2021, having to share points with India after India refused to host them for their scheduled qualifiers.
“To address this problem and bring consistency in the team’s and players’ performance, the PCB has put in place a professional management team with the men’s side whose understanding of the modern game is second to none and has a clear vision of the steps required for Pakistan to perform well consistently at the international level,” said Mani.
“I believe in empowerment and that’s precisely why Misbah was given full authority and support. But he very much remains accountable and as part of his appraisal process, he will be interviewed by the PCB Cricket Committee in the coming weeks in which he will be asked to reflect on his own and team’s performances, and share his vision for the future.”
Speaking about domestic cricket, Mani said his preference was initially for eight Cricket Association sides to replace the 16 Regions. “But after a lot of analysis and strategic reviews, I came to the conclusion that six national teams would provide high level of competitive cricket required to make Pakistan stronger.”
“Too many meaningless matches and events were being organised before, which was costing the PCB a fortune without benefitting Pakistan cricket because the Regions were not generating their revenues,” he observed. “There is also a misperception about unemployment as most of the leading institutions such as the MCB, NBP, UBL, HBL, PNSC, ABL etc had already pulled the shutters on their cricket teams before the new structure was introduced. The PCB’s in-house study further reveals most of the active departments, apart from a very few, were either offering short-term or event-based contracts to cricketers that ranged from Rs10,000 to Rs50,000 per month.”
The PCB chief hoped the interim committees of the six Cricket Associations will soon be announced, following which these bodies will start operating in their respective territories on way to putting in place a transparent and meritocratic Board of Governors. “Full powers will be delegated to the Cricket Associations to organise, develop and promote the game in their respective jurisdictions,” he said.
On the subject of accountability and transparency, Mani said: “It starts from me, and my quarterly expense statements are available on the PCB corporate website. For the first time, the Annual Audited Financial Statements of the PCB are also available for all stakeholders to see on its website. Besides, as part of good governance practices and as per the new PCB Constitution 2019, I have delegated a lot of my powers, which were previously exercised by my predecessors, to Chief Executive Wasim Khan. This ensures proper checks and balances within the PCB.”
Mani also hinted at some key changes in the Board of Governors set up as well. “Four independent members on the Board of Governors, including a female member, will soon be inducted to the Board of Governors, while the Nominations, HR & Remuneration and Risk Management Committees have been set-up, and the PCB Code of Ethics has been introduced.
“All these are basic and fundamental elements for any top-quality corporate organisation but were missing until I assumed charge. These changes have been implemented to transform the perception of the stakeholders, including fans, in an effort to convince them to start trusting and believing in the PCB.
“We are progressing in the right direction and remain confident to achieve all our targets and objectives,” said Mani.
Published in Dawn, September 6th, 2020