KARACHI/LAHORE/ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) is all but set to have a new man at the helm after sources indicated on Thursday that Prime Minister Imran Khan decided not to give incumbent chairman Ehsan Mani a second term in the corridors of Gaddafi Stadium.

Former Pakistan skipper Ramiz Raja, who is not new to cricket administration after having served PCB as its chief executive officer until quitting the post in August 2004, has emerged as the frontrunner to take over from 76-year-old Mani, who had come in for criticism over national team’s up-and-down performance in recent times.

Sources told Dawn that Prime Minister, in his capacity as the PCB’s patron-in-chief, had reportedly nominated Ramiz for vacant seat on the Board of Governors (BoG) to replace Asad Ali Khan — the notification to this effect is expected by Friday from the Inter-Provincial Coordination (IPC) ministry — with former International Cricket Council president Mani likely to remain as BoG member.

It was during Mani’s time as chairman that international cricket in the country was fully-revived with a flurry of international teams touring Pakistan in recent years with more to follow.

Sources further added that the prime minister was willing to ask Mani to continue in his role for a few more months in order to complete his task of securing hosting rights for some ICC events. However, Mani demanded that Ramiz’s name was not included as a nominee for chairman in the BoG.“I decided not to seek a further term,” Mani told Dawn in a terse text message on Thursday.

If Ramiz does get the nod as the 35th head of the national cricket board, it would be a belated birthday present for the 59-year-old, who has been globetrotting as a commentator since he retired from the sport. A man of impeccable standing in the cricket world, Ramiz is the younger brother of late Wasim Raja, a stylish left-handed batter who also represented Pakistan in international cricket between 1973 and 1985.

During his playing career as right-handed batter, Ramiz appeared in 57 Tests and 198 One-day Internationals, who earned the dubious record of being the only player in ODI history to be given out ‘obstructing the field’ for 99 during England’s ill-fated tour of Pakistan in late 1987.

During his recent interviews in the media, Ramiz had spoken of bringing about revolutionary changes to the setup behind running of the national team.

In Mani’s tenure, the PCB brought in high-ranking officials at lucrative packages, details of which the country’s cricket governing body was not willing to share with National Assemby’s standing committee on sports. Yet, despite the appointments, Pakistan’s national team hasn’t been able to perform consistently in any of the three formats.

Published in Dawn, August 27th, 2021

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