KARACHI: The Pakistan Cricket Board may soften its stance against India over the controversy surrounding the hosting rights of the 2023 Asia Cup, the body’s Management Committee chairman Najam Sethi said on Monday.

Sethi, who headed last week’s toppling of the former Board of Governors of the PCB — led by chairman Ramiz Raja — believed it was not in Pakistan’s favour to take any step that leads to isolation from the cricket world.

Under Ramiz, the PCB was irked by the comments made by the Board of Control for Cricket in India secretary Jay Shah back in October, in which the official unilaterally stated that the Asia Cup will be played at a neutral venue.

Shah — who is also the president of the Asian Cricket Council — had said it was impossible for the Indian team to travel to Pakistan as the country’s government would not allow that.

The PCB had responded with anger and threatened to pull out of the tournament as well as from the 2023 Cricket World Cup, which is set to be staged in India in October-November.

Sethi, however, suggested that the PCB under him will pursue a dialogue with the ACC rather than going on the offensive.

“As far as Asia Cup is concerned, I will go to ACC and see what the situation is; we’ll take a decision which is in the better interest of the game,” he said.

“We have to see what other board’s position is, we have to play cricket with everyone, we will not take any step which can cause any isolation.”

The 74-year-old also ruled out the possibility of Pakistan’s absence from the World Cup in protest. The decision to participate in the one-day showpiece, he said, will be taken according to the government’s guidance.

“We will obey whatever the government would suggest to us and we will seek the government’s advice when the time arrives, similar to the last time I was the chairman,” noted Sethi.

RAMIZ SLAMS ‘POLITICAL INTERFERENCE’

Meanwhile, Ramiz was critical of the new PCB regime, which took over following instructions from the office of Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif — who as premier is also the patron of the PCB.

Ramiz’s ouster meant the PCB’s 2019 constitution was also suspended to be eventually replaced by the one approved in 2014, bringing significant structural changes to the board’s administration.

“There should be no political interference in cricket,” Ramiz, who was handpicked by former prime minister Imran Khan to be elected as chairman last year, said on his YouTube channel.

“The Government of Pakistan removed a Test cricketer from the chairmanship of PCB just to accommodate Sethi. This is a highly disrespectful way of treating your cricketers.

“The Government of Pakistan changed the whole Constitution of PCB just to accommodate Sethi. I have never seen this ever in my life,” he added.

Since Sethi’s 14-member Manag­ement Committee took charge, it has sacked national chief selector Moham­mad Wasim along with few other officials. The committee aims to make big changes, including replacing the provincial associations sides in domestic cricket with departments.

Published in Dawn, December 27th, 2022

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