ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan on Monday held separate meetings with Pakistan Cricket Board chairman Ehsan Mani and former Test opener Ramiz Raja amid speculations over the appointment of the next PCB chairman.
While Mani’s three-year term is ending on Wednesday, sources said the prime minister wanted to replace Mani with Ramiz, the cricket-turned-commentator. However during the meeting on Monday, sources said, Mani sought the second term to complete ‘unfinished’ tasks.
After holding a meeting with Mani at the PM’s Office on Monday, the prime minister met Ramiz who also served Pakistan captain during his playing days. According to sources, the PM is yet to decide if he will allow the 76-year-old Mani to continue or otherwise.
Surprisingly, the PM office did not release any information in this regard that led to widespread speculations in cricketing circles signalling Mani has been told to continue as the PCB chief.
Before Thursday, sources added, the prime minister would approve two names for PCB’s Board of Governors and there are certain chances that both Mani and Ramiz will be nominated as BoG members by the prime minister as only a member of the Board of Governors can contest elections for the post of PCB chairman.
There are chances that Mani will retain his position as the BoG member and another member Asad Ali Khan will be replaced by Ramiz, sources revealed. Then at a later stage, the PM will announce his decision regarding the new chairman.
Being a former colleague of Imran, sources said, the 59-year-old Ramiz is in the PM’s good books, and it is likely that he will be appointed as PCB chairman. And in case Mani continues as the chief, then too the former opener will be given some important position.
A government official, on the condition of anonymity, claimed that the PM had allowed Mani to continue due to his contribution in reviving international cricket in Pakistan besides changing the domestic cricket structure. Making his point, the official said the ICC T20 World Cup was going to be held in October-November this year and if a change of guard was imperative the new PCB chairman would be appointed after the World Cup subject to Pakistan’s performance in the mega event.
On the other hand, a former member of BoG said Imran had decided to replace Mani with Ramiz and that was the reason the PM called him for a meeting. According to the member, a few days ago the prime minister also told a few former cricketers about his decision of giving Ramiz the role of PCB chairman.
Meanwhile, sources said during his meeting with Mani Imran showed his displeasure over Pakistan’s poor performance in England where the national team lost the T20 series 1-2 besides suffering a 0-3 ODI whitewash in July this year. Three years ago, Mani was appointed as BoG member by Imran, and subsequently he contested and won elections to become PCB head in September 2018, replacing Najam Sethi who had resigned.
Both the visitors of PM’s Office avoided media and despite repeated attempts, Mani could not be approached for his comments. A source said Mani was a bit off colour when he came back out of the PM’s Office after the meeting.
During three years as PCB chairman, Mani who also served as the president of the International Cricket Council played good role for restoring international cricket in Pakistan. On the other hand, the transformation of the domestic structure which ended departments’ role in the game resulting in many departmental cricketers getting jobless also took place during his time in office.
Mani also got PCB’s fresh constitution approved.
However during his tenure, club cricket faced a tough challenge as there was no recognised and approved contest at club level, which is the nursery of cricket.
While the PCB is yet to complete the registration process of the six newly formed provincial associations. Besides gradually bringing the Pakistan Super League T20 tournament, PCB’s flagship event, to Pakistan from 2019 and afterwards, the Mani-led PCB regime also submitted expression of interest for hosting six international events during the 2024-2031 ICC Future Tours Programme.
Published in Dawn, August 24th, 2021