LAHORE: Whilst the Pakistan Cricket Board looks in no rush to review the current domestic cricket system amid voices from the sport’s fraternity calling for restoration of departmental teams, former legend Majid Khan has proposed a solution that he believed can satisfy all stakeholders.
After the passing of its new constitution in 2019, the PCB virtually ended the role of departments and introduced six provincial cricket association sides which compete in three tournaments at the top-tier. The move was said to be inspired by then Prime Minister Imran Khan’s vision for Pakistan cricket.
The revamping of the old system was met with criticism from the cricket community as it led to many players, coaches and even groundsmen losing their jobs with departments and clubs.
Majid said neither the departmental system nor a six-team structure would work in Pakistan’s favour. The former PCB chief believed a system in which the divisional sides are sponsored by departments is the one that would benefit all parties.
“All the 11 divisional teams including one each of Lahore and Karachi, which are larger in size against many divisions, should play first class cricket and the interested departments should come forward to sponsor each divisional team,” Majid told Dawn in an exclusive interview on Sunday.
“The amount which a sponsor will spend on a divisional cricket, the PCB will also contribute equal to that for the said division.”
The former Pakistan captain said such a system will also help in the appointment of the PCB chief. The departments sponsoring the divisional teams, he said, can see their representatives run for the post while the Prime Minister, who’s also the PCB patron chooses one of them.
“The secretary, treasurer and other members of the bodies of those divisions should be elected by their electoral colleges (zones/clubs),” said Majid, who played 63 Tests for country, while expressing disappointment over the lack of consistency and planning by the cricket administrators.
“Our cricket has been running for the last 70 years on the same practice of inconsistency.
“We have been changing our system, infrastructure after few years, while our opponents have been running their system on consistency for many decades.
“If we want to compete with them you have to change your system on strong footings and to show consistency and if you don’t want to compete them then it is okay let going what is going on.”
Former PCB chairman Ehsan Mani also tried to urge departments to sponsor the six provincial associations teams when the system was introduced three years ago, but his efforts failed to convince them.
Majid believed Mani did not do enough homework to assure the departments that his proposal would pay dividends in the future.
“They will not refuse provided you give them proper infrastructure and programme,” he said.
“It is quite easy, as in Pakistan many companies are ready to come forward as they have a lot of opportunities to promote their products through the game of cricket, which is widely popular in Pakistan.
“You need sincere efforts with clean vision to earn the trust of those companies to move forward.”
Majid, who featured for the national side in 23 One-day Internationals believed Pakistan had suffered due to domestic cricket systems changing with the change in regimes in the higher offices of the PCB.
He urged the cricket authorities to take a leaf out of the book of the much stronger cricket nations Australia, England and Pakistan’s arch-rivals India.
“Look at England, Australia, India and other countries, how they have been working consistently on their decades-long system and how many changes we have made in our domestic structure,” said Majid.
The former Marlyborne Cricket Club cricket committee member said Pakistan, who has a population of 220 million, cannot afford to implement a six-team system like that of Australia, where the state sides compete at the top level and are bolstered by talent coming in from club and school cricket.
“Pakistan has a good population of around 220 million and how can you test full talent in six teams?” inquired Majid, who said the Pakistan Super League thrives because of people’s association with the names of their cities, which is not the case in domestic cricket.
Majid said Pakistan cricket needed better administrators adding that it was only possible if good organisers are promoted to the top of the system. “In Australia the administration starts from club level and then to state and at last at the board’s level, so at the board’s level they are carrying the experience of cricket administration of 30 or 35 years,” he said.
Majid said it was unfortunate that Pakistan and India’s bilateral cricket ties are at an all-time low due to political tensions between the neighbouring countries.
He rued that the two countries haven’t played against each other as much as they should’ve given the greatness of their rivalry.
“In 1952-53 Pakistan and India started playing bilateral cricket and so far we could played 80 odd Test matches while Australia and England,
have played 200 Tests during this period,” Majid said.
“Had India and Pakistan been playing cricket like England and Australia do in the Ashes, we both would have been ruling the world of cricket.”
Majid said the governments needed to understand the importance of sport and its potential as a commercial entity. He said the neighbours should restore bilateral ties in not only cricket but other sports as well.
“Indo-Pak matches, in all the sports, can generate a lot of business and that will boost the economy of both the countries at a fast track and the government should realise this,” he said.
Majid believed Australia’s recent tour to Pakistan did not guarantee all teams will do so in the future, but what guarantees is the national team’s stature in world cricket in terms of its quality.
He said had Pakistan did not prove to the world that they are a team to beat, it would have been much more difficult for the PCB to convince the best sides to visit the country.
“If we will be strong enough and occupying top positions [in the rankings], every country will love to tour to and invite Pakistan.” Concluded Majid.
Published in Dawn, April 25th, 2022