LAHORE: The second successive year of the current Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) regime under Chairman Ehsan Mani, which was completed on Sept 4, has failed to bring any significant improvement in country’s cricket, both on and off the field.
While the PCB officials have been blowing their own trumpet on the cricket board’s few achievements made last year such as the return of Test cricket to the country after almost a decade and relocating the entire Pakistan Super League (PSL) at home, they have been shy of facing the media to answer the many blunders and ill-planned moves on the Board’s part in these two years which have earned severe criticism from all quarters including from ex-players and veteran officials.
The PCB higher ups have not held any open press conference in many a month now, either to highlight their achievements or address the key issues that have irked the fans and critics alike.
Comprising a group of highly paid officials, the current PCB regime has not been able to put its house in order, especially when it comes to addressing serious issues afflicting Pakistan cricket. The PCB introduced a new constitution on Aug 19, 2019 but even after the passage of more than a year, the cricket board has failed to make its three constitutional forums functional which include the Board of Governors, the General Body and putting in place the elected bodies of the six provincial cricket associations.
The PCB has unsuccessfully tried hiding behind a clause in the constitution called ‘transitional period’ which has been extended for over a year now. The BoG, a supreme decision-making body of the PCB, is still working with old members whose tenures ended on August 8 this year. In fact, the old BoG should have been dissolved immediately after the implementation of the new constitution on August 19, 2019, but it continues to exist with no one in the PCB really questioning the status quo.
The PCB’s decision to incorporate a clause in the constitution, binding it to register all the six cricket associations under the Societies Act, has created a big hurdle in making functional the above mentioned three constitutional fora. According to the Act, there is no provision for registration of any sporting body under it. However, the PCB has claimed that it has registered one of the cricket associations, namely Northern with as many as 20 employees of its own shown as founder members.
So far not a single elected cricket association has been made functional and same is the case with the city cricket associations as none exists at the moment since August 19, 2019.
While the formation of BoGs, General Body and Cricket Associations is still facing uncertainty due to one of the clauses in PCB’s new constitution, one wonders what is really keeping the Board from holding the Players Award ceremony which could not be held in the last two years. It is a established trend to hold such a ceremony on regular basis where the best players of Pakistan team, best umpires and referees, scorers and other allied staff are awarded cash prizes on the basis of their one-year performance. The general body has to meet once a year for this to approve the PCB budget for this function which is of a very important nature.
On the cricket front, the performance of Pakistan men and women teams has been quite ordinary in the last two years. Pakistan were at the top in the ICC T20 team rankings in 2019 but it has unfortunately slipped to fourth, whereas Pakistan were at seventh in Test and sixth in the ODIs in 2018 and are still languishing at the same spots after two years.
Similarly, the women’s team also failed to excel at the last World Cup held in Australia earlier this year, winning just one match against the West Indies while losing to England and South Africa and no result against Thailand.
Abolishing the departmental teams was another huge blunder committed by the current PCB regime which resulted in some 3,000 cricketers and 300 employees working with the departmental teams as coaches, trainers, analysts losing their jobs after the move. Around 240 groundsmen also faced financial problems and many left their jobs, too after the PCB decided to discontinue its share of contribution in their monthly salaries for working with the regional cricket associations which have been declared defunct by the PCB and have come wit the idea of introducing a six-provincial cricket team formula.
The grassroots cricket is also not on the right track because nobody at the provincial or city level is working to streamline that. The PCB is forming its six provincial teams based on the performances of the last two years with no real effort to unearth fresh talent.
Besides, the Board’s plans to get sponsorship for each of the provincial associations has not met with positive response from anywhere, while the PCB has also faced a lot of criticism in the recent appointment of coaches for the provincial cricket associations.
Despite so many misfiring projects and plans, the PCB has been constantly harping on its few achievements. Yes, holding all the matches of the fifth HBL Pakistan Super League (PSL) in Pakistan and revival of Test cricket at home besides hosting some international teams are significant achievements, international cricket actually resumed in Pakistan in 2015 when the previous cricket boards successfully hosted Kenya, Zimbabwe, the West Indies, Sri Lanka, the World XI besides holding increased number of matches of the Pakistan Super League with every passing year. So the groundwork had already been done which was further expanded and cashed in by the current PCB regime.
And as far the PSL is concerned, despite the staging of all the 30 matches in Pakistan this year, all the franchises have incurred big financial losses. Earlier, these PSL franchises used to complain about heavy losses due to the expensive accommodation and exorbitant costs of hiring the stadia in the UAE, it is amazing that while all the teams stayed in hotels in Pakistan this year and almost all the matches at Karachi, Lahore, Multan and Rawalpindi went packed to the capacity, the franchises are still ruing heavy financial losses.
This raises serious questions about the viability of the PSL, even after five years, and the manner in which it is being organised by the PCB.
It is high time the PCB did some soul searching and faced the media to get the real picture of where things stand today in Pakistan cricket rather than hiding behind excuses and defending its poor decisions day in and day out.
Published in Dawn, September 9th, 2020