Sethi plans reforming domestic cricket through revival of departments

Published December 23, 2022
CHAIRMAN of the PCB Management Committee Najam Sethi speaks to reporters at the Gaddafi Stadium on Thursday.—M.Arif/White Star
CHAIRMAN of the PCB Management Committee Najam Sethi speaks to reporters at the Gaddafi Stadium on Thursday.—M.Arif/White Star

LAHORE: While Ramiz Raja stood sacked as Pakistan Cricket Board chairman on Thursday, former chief Najam Sethi as the head of a 14-member PCB Management Committee appointed by the prime minister categorically said the 2014 Constitution was restored and reforming domestic game through the revival of departmental and regional cricket was on the agenda.

“The cricket regime headed by Ramiz Raja is no more. The 2014 PCB constitution stands restored,” Sethi said on Twitter.

After four years and four months, Sethi again entered the Gaddafi Stadium on Thursday as the PCB head, this time for a four-month period to lead a 14-member committee — appointed by PM Shehbaz Sharif on Wednesday —tasked with restoring the PCB 2014 Constitution, including revival of departmental cricket.

Sethi, a renowned professional journalist soon after joining the PCB on Thursday, talked to media along with some members of the Management Committee and a number of former office-bearers of different defunct regions.

“After four years, I have come again and there is a heavy workload,” the 74-year-old Sethi said while talking to reporters outside the Gaddafi Stadium.

Sethi, who was appointed PCB chairman in 2013 by then prime minister Nawaz Sharif remained in the Board as Pakistan Super League (PSL) chairman and PCB chief till Aug 20, 2018 when the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government led by prime minister Imran Khan came to power.

Sethi took some days before resigning from the post as PCB chairman, and hours later Imran Khan, as prime minister and patron-in-chief of the PCB, announced the name of Ehsan Mani as the next PCB chief. Mani after completing his three-year tenure stepped down in August last year leading to Ramiz’s election to the post of chairman a month later.

“First, I am thankful to prime minister [Shehbaz Sharif] who desires to restore the 2014 Constitution [of PCB], revive departmental cricket to end cricketers’ unemployment, bring back regional and club cricket and encourage private sector to come forward [for the game’s development],” he added.

“Much has been done [in Pakistan cricket] during the last four years, I will not comment on it. However, we will try to solve the problems faced by of our [present] national team players.”

Sethi categorically signalled the return of departmental cricket which was abolished under PCB’s 2019 Constitution promulgated during the previous government.

“We will try to make all the changes in the next three, four months time for reviving departmental cricket and to fully restore the Constitution of 2014,” he asserted.

“A Board [Board of Governors] having four departmental and as many regional representatives will be formed according to the PCB Constitution of 2014.

“The main agenda is also to improve domestic cricket through reforms to bring it at par with international level as we made the PSL an international brand,” Sethi said referring to the franchise-based league launched in 2016.

“In my previous tenure, the PSL took off successfully while the arrival of a number of foreign teams had also started, and it continues to this day.”

Sethi reckoned major reforms were required to improve Pakistan’s current domestic cricket which he said was not producing good-quality cricketers for the national team.

“[Comparatively] more players are emerging from the PSL platform,” he insisted.

About Pakistan’s upcoming home series against New Zealand, Sethi said the national Test squad had been announced a day before he joined the PCB, adding there were two options available to him in this regard.

“I don’t know making changes to the squad at this stage will be good or not; I will not take any more questions on this matter,” he said.

“It is better that some friends [members of the Management Committee] go to Karachi for the first Test. We hope the matches will be played in good atmosphere and Pakistan will perform better,” he added.

To a question about cricketing ties with India, Sethi said he had been reading different news reports about Pakistan-India cricketing relations and “The Management Committee will review Pakistan-India [bilateral] series matter to decide what message should be conveyed [to India],” he said. “In principle, any decision about the [revival of] Indo-Pak cricket relations has to be taken with the consent of the government.”

Asked if he expected any confrontation by Ramiz, Sethi said personally he did not believe in confrontation.

“In 2018, though I received a message from high-ups not to leave the position [of chairman] but I didn’t want to stand between Imran Khan’s vision, and therefore quit the post,” he said.

He said there was no red-flag in holding international cricket in Peshawar.

“The stadium in Peshawar is being renovated. It will complete in six months time, after which we will go to Peshawar, as I [during the previous regime] had done by organising international matches against West Indies in Karachi, which was not possible for many people at that time,” Sethi remarked.

While noting the prime minister had a big role in appointing PCB chairman, Sethi said there was no guarantee that a new chairman — in case of holding fresh elections — would be at the helm.

However, he said, performance should be important in bringing new PCB chief. “If this is not there, then people are right in asking for a change.”

Interestingly, when Sethi came to talk with the media, no PCB official, barring media department, accompanied him.

Several members of the newly-appointed Management Committee including Shakil Sheikh, Nauman Butt (both former members of the BoG), former Test cricketer Shafqat Rana, Gulzada, former Lahore City Cricket Association president Khawaja Nadeem, Faisalabad District Cricket Association secretary Rana Anis, and clubs’ owners Sarfaraz Ahmad, Shahbaz Ali and Ijaz Shah were prominent standing alongside Sethi during the presser.

Earlier, PCB chief executive Faisal Hasnain, chief operating officer Salman Naseer and other key officials welcomed Sethi upon his arrival at the Gaddafi Stadium.

Published in Dawn, December 23rd, 2022

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