'Good news in the offing': New Zealand rescheduling Pakistan tour, Ramiz Raja tells Senate body

Published October 7, 2021
PCB Chairman Ramiz Raja addresses a press conference in Lahore on Sep 13, 2021. — Reuters/File
PCB Chairman Ramiz Raja addresses a press conference in Lahore on Sep 13, 2021. — Reuters/File

Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chairman Ramiz Raja has hinted at "good news" in the coming week, saying the New Zealand cricket board was working on a new schedule to tour Pakistan after it abandoned the series last month citing "security threats".

The New Zealand cricket team had arrived in Pakistan on September 11 for the first time in 18 years to play three ODIs and five Twenty20 Internationals.

The Kiwis had, however, devastated Pakistan's cricket fraternity on Sep 17 by opting out of their tour of Pakistan minutes before the first ODI was to be played. They had cited a 'security threat' as the reason without divulging any further information. The tour cancellation was followed by England also deferring their tour.

'Don't accept the New Zealand tour'

Briefing the Senate Standing Committee on Inter-Provincial Coordination on Thursday, Raja said the New Zealand cricket board was "now rescheduling the tour" after being pressured by Pakistan.

However, committee chairman Raza Rabbani suggested the PCB chief to turn down New Zealand's tour of Pakistan.

"What if we do not allow the New Zealand tour?" asked Rabbani.

He advised the PCB not to accept the tour as a sign of protest.

Raja, however, replied with a slight discord, saying, "We have to live with them. But we can tell them that Pakistan can find a time window for the tour at some point in 2022."

He added that if New Zealand were ready to play according to Pakistan's conditions, "then we should have no problem".

He also informed the committee that Pakistan's cricket affairs were managed through 50 per cent funding from the International Cricket Council (ICC), while 90pc of the ICC funding was provided by India.

The PCB chairman also said he would unveil the blueprint for cricket by next week.

'It's not our fault'

Asked about the tour cancellation, the PCB chief informed the committee that the Kiwi officials didn't inform him about the nature of the threats, adding that "it's not our fault".

He lamented that no one from the cricket fraternity helped Pakistan at its time of need, while recalling that the national team had toured different countries even during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Raja said the PCB had also written a "strong letter" to the ICC on the matter, while quoting experts as saying that a lot of politics was underway at the ICC.

'PCB can collapse if India wishes'

During the briefing, the PCB chief said that the board could collapse if the Indian government wanted.

He explained that the PCB receives 50pc of its funding from the ICC. "ICC funding means that the body conducts tournaments and distributes the money among member boards," he said.

"Ninety per cent of ICC's funding comes from Indian markets," he said. The PCB chairman said that in a way, Indian business houses were keeping Pakistan cricket going.

He said that if the Indian prime minister decides to stop funding at any point, the cricket board could "collapse".

'No cricketer will drive rickshaw anymore'

During the briefing, the PCB chairman stressed the need for fixing the system, adding that the salaries of domestic cricketers had been raised and they will now earn Rs40 million annually.

"No cricketer will have to drive a rickshaw anymore," he said.

He said he had held "positive meetings" with various investors, adding that they were willing to offer money for the betterment of national cricket.

Raja said work at the schools level would soon begin with an aim to overhaul the cricket structure.

The PCB chairman also said those cricketers who had tarnished the country's image by being involved in match fixing should not be included in the team, adding that unfortunately, "our society sides with such cricketers".

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