LAHORE: While welcoming the expected arrival of Australia’s full-strength squad to Pakistan after almost a quarter of a century and smooth organisation of the ongoing HBL Pakistan Super League (PSL) matches, former Pakistan Cricket Board chairman Khalid Mahmood on Saturday said the PCB should also give attention to grassroots cricket which he reckoned was almost non-existent currently.
“After a rather stormy phase late last year that saw the New Zealand team leave Pakistan rather abruptly citing security concerns, the PCB appears to have gained full control of events under the chairmanship of Ramiz Raja. Not only England is in [the] firing range internally as well as externally for its surprise decision to cancel its scheduled tour of Pakistan [last year], but it is now firmly committed to revise its bilateral series with Pakistan as soon as possible,” Khalid said while talking to Dawn.
“The real icing on the cake is however the recent decision of Cricket Australia to name a full-strength line-up for next month’s tour of Pakistan. Cricket fans in Pakistan are particularly happy to note that notwithstanding security issues earlier raised by New Zealand and England, the 18 players Australia squad will be seen in action for the first time after about a quarter of a century and it will be Australia’s first overseas tour after the 2019 Ashes played in England,” Khalid underlined.
“Considering the duration of the tour during which the two teams will play three Tests, three ODIs and a T20 International, this can be rated as a very comprehensive and historic cricket contact.”
Khalid added, “While concentrating on international tours, uninterrupted staging of the HBL Pakistan Super League matches is also a good omen for Pakistan cricket, especially ahead of Australian’s tour.”
But Khalid was not satisfied with the current scenario of grassroots cricket in Pakistan and urged the Board to pay attention to it, particularly club cricket.
“It [grassroots cricket] in our country is almost non-existent and needs the urgent attention of the authorities. Furthermore, the PCB should also try to create and maintain cricket playing facilities which are [presently] under threat from land mafias as a result of poor planning by the government agencies concerned,” he lamented.
It may be mentioned here that so far the PCB has failed to form its affiliated bodies at the district level since suspending those on Aug 19, 2019 under its new constitution.
Moreover, the one-year appointed bodies of the six provincial cricket associations’ tenure will also end next month, without completing the scrutiny and registration of the clubs in three years time.
Published in Dawn, February 13th, 2022