THE post of Pakistan Cricket Board chairman can be a poisoned chalice. Ramiz Raja’s ascension to that post seems to be a formality after his nomination to the PCB Board of Governors by Prime Minister Imran Khan in place of Ehsan Mani, whose three-year term has expired. And while it was during Mr Mani’s term that a number of international teams toured the country and the domestic cricket structure was revamped, his tenure will largely be remembered by the national team’s inconsistent performances. The board’s decision-making also floundered at times — for instance, giving Misbah-ul-Haq three top posts with the national team until eventually leaving him with just that of head coach. The chopping and changing has translated into poor performances on the pitch, including, remarkably, losing an ODI series to England’s third-string side recently and only drawing this month’s Test series in the West Indies.
Ramiz Raja has spoken about his aims of resetting Pakistan cricket’s GPS. Being part of Pakistan’s 1992 World Cup winning team under Imran Khan means he shouldn’t have difficulties in implementing his ideas once he’s formally elected next month. He has in the past also engaged in a war of words on social and other media with several cricketers who might be part of the national team at the upcoming T20 World Cup as well as some officials in the national cricketing set-up. It remains to be seen how he will be welcomed by them. If that animosity spills over once Ramiz Raja becomes chairman, it will be detrimental for the team and cause hurdles in the operations of the board. The incoming chairman has been vocal about restoring cricketing ties with India and there is a feeling that his international contacts might lead to the resumption of money-spinning Pakistan-India series. Some oppose that, including several former players, but it must be realised that India has become one of world cricket’s most powerful teams and while Pakistan was once the better team, it now needs to play catch-up.
Published in Dawn, August 29th, 2021