IN the wake of the two consecutive disasters in the T20 World Cup , it is easy to put the blame on the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB), the captain or the players. But we must remember that this is not our first experience of on-field disasters that are more embarrassing than tragic. As I see it, the root cause behind such embarrassments is the office of the PCB Patron-in-Chief.

The trend throughout the world is that all sports bodies have one patron who is usually a ceremonial figure having nothing at all to do with the day-to-day affairs of the body. This was pretty much the case with the PCB till 2013 when the office of the President of Pakistan was concurrently the office of the PCB Patron.

After winning the general elections in 2013, Mian Nawaz Sharif, a cricket enthusiast, amended the rules, making the office of the Prime Minister of Pakistan the PCB Patron-in-Chief. This is where the problems began, as I see it, because everything got instantly politicised, leaving the players frustrated.

After the 2018 elections, Imran Khan, himself a legendary cricketer, became the prime minister. One had hoped he would straighten cricketing affairs, but that was not to be. He retained the Patron-in-Chief’s office, kept making hand-picked appointments. It was only logical that the PCB affairs did not improve.

After the two recent defeats, the sitting PCB chairman has talked about a major overhaul within the national team. If this is the track forward, he should perhaps sack all the present players and recruit new ones. Even then nothing will change for the better.

One is forced to ask the chairman if he is sacking himself, too. That might actually do the trick, really. Going forward, the PCB patronship should be depoliticised urgently by handing the office back to the President of Pakistan.

Besides, the PCB constitution should be rewritten on democratic lines, ensuring the appointment of a genuinely elected chairman rather than an appointed one.

Flt-Engr (retd) Jamshed Ishrat
Islamabad

Published in Dawn, June 15th, 2024

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