ISLAMABAD: Three weeks after calling off their tour of Pakistan due to security concerns, New Zealand are willing to reschedule the series and Pakistan Cricket Board chairman Ramiz Raja said on Thursday that there will be more information regarding that in a weeks’ time.
Ramiz was briefing the Senate Standing Committee on Inter-Provincial Coordination, which met here with Senator Mian Raza Rabbani in the chair, and said that there “will be good news in a weeks’ time” after New Zealand’s pullout was followed by England calling off their tour.
He also informed that he was working on a plan for “hosting a triangular series in the country in future”.
New Zealand called off their tour less than an hour before the start of the first of three One-day Internationals, which preceded a five-match Twenty20 series, on Sept 17 citing that there was an imminent security threat to the team.
Days later, England announced that they will not be coming to Pakistan to play a two-match Twenty20 series which was scheduled for this month with both series aimed at preparing the Pakistan team for the Twenty20 World Cup, the main round of which begins from Oct 23.
“I have written a strongly-worded letter to the International Cricket Council chairman where I mentioned that the ICC has become a political wing of the Western bloc and has been reduced to a mere events management company,” informed Ramiz.
Ramiz added that he felt the decision by New Zealand was politically motivated.
“We have one of the best security systems in place,” he said. “ICC-appointed security experts have acknowledged the high level of security accorded to visiting teams. New Zealand haven’t yet shared the details of the threats it reckons its players were facing which is beyond comprehension. Our case at the ICC is very strong.”
While applauding the role played by the British High Commission for supporting Pakistan’s stance, he said that the cricket boards of England and New Zealand have been criticised for their actions.
“I was told by the England Cricket Board chairman that players were spooked after New Zealand’s decision but reports have since emerged that neither the players nor the players association had been consulted before the decision was made,” added the PCB chief.
Ramiz was asked by the committee members about the financial losses suffered by the PCB after the tours were called off to which he said that “an exact figure could not be given at the moment due to ongoing evaluation and negotiations with broadcasters”.
Asked about the ramifications for the PCB if the tours aren’t rescheduled, Ramiz said that Pakistan needs to “find a way to exist with these western cricketing nations while showing some strength” but advised against going “overboard”.
Senator Rabbani endorsed Ramiz’s view by saying that Pakistan “is not a pushover and western countries should realise we have a rich history” while IPC minister Dr Fehmida Mirza added that Pakistan was being “discriminated against at the international stage in all sports”.
Ramiz reiterated his views that Pakistan needed to improve its cricketing economy. As much as 50 percent of funding to the PCB comes from the ICC, which gets 90 percent of its revenue from India.
“I have a target to diversify revenue resources so that we can reduce this dependence gradually over the years to come,” said Ramiz, who met with traders in Karachi this week.
Pakistan’s World Cup preparations might have been hit by the tour cancellations but Ramiz was confident that the team “will give its 100 percent”.
Ramiz informed the Committee that he was working on fixing Pakistan cricket, which included steps to revive the game in schools which will help “quality players come through”.
Domestic cricket’s revamp under the previous PCB setup has seen the departmental system come to an end and regional associations being formed which has led to many players losing their jobs but Ramiz said he had increased the retainer of about 200 cricketers by Rs100,000.
“Being financially secure would help players focus on the game,” he said.
He said there was work being done on improving the standard of pitches, coaching at grassroots level, and umpiring in the country. “The system needs direction,” Ramiz said. “We will give a blueprint of the plans we have in four weeks’ time.”
Ramiz also said he did not want to allow tainted cricketers to return to the national team fold after the completion of their bans.
“Players are regularly briefed on the issue of corruption,” he said. “We are paying more money to players so that they do not get lured into corrupt practices.”
The briefing was also attended by javelin throwers Arshad Nadeem and weightlifter Talha Talib, who both finished fifth in their respective events at this year’s Tokyo Olympics and were presented souvenirs as a token of appreciation for their performance.
The Olympians thanked Committee for the invitation and voiced their concerns and difficulties being faced by them during training and performance at the Olympics.
They expressed their concerns regarding the abolishment of the departmental system under the new sports policy which the IPC ministry is trying to implement to overhaul the sports governance system in the country.
The Committee strongly recommended that until the policy is implemented, the IPC ministry should ensure that athletes associated with various departments don’t go jobless and face financial issues.
The IPC minister clarified that the new policy will see regional sports being encouraged.
Senator Mushtaq Ahmed was of the view that this shift from departmental system to regional should not be done in haste and all the aspects need to be considered before going ahead with this radical change.
Senator Rabbani said that proposed policy shall be taken up again during the proposed in-camera meeting. He also appointed a three member sub-committee headed by Senator Irfan Siddiqui to look into the working functions and constitutions of 41 sports federations in Pakistan.
Published in Dawn, October 8th, 2021