Ramiz waits for Shehbaz to decide his fate as PCB chief

Ramiz waits for Shehbaz to decide his fate as PCB chief

LAHORE: Pakistan Cricket Board chairman Ramiz Raja has opted not to resign from the post following the election of Shehbaz Sharif as the country’s prime minister following a no-confidence vote against his predecessor Imran Khan.

Ramiz, according to sources, will instead make a decision based on the new premier’s treatment towards him as the PCB’s patron, who has the power to virtually appoint a favoured person at the helm of the national cricket body.

The former Test skipper was elected as the PCB chief after being nominated for the post by Imran in September last year, but the former PM’s ouster means Ramiz’s position is in danger.

Ramiz replaced former PCB chief Ehsan Mani, the first to take the position after Imran came in power after the 2018 general elections. However, it was Mani’s predecessor Najam Sethi’s resignation that led to his appointment, after the latter realised Imran will not allow him to complete the remaining three years of his term.

Sethi was the the helm of the PCB during Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz’s term as the country’s ruling party and with its president Shehbaz now in power, he is one of the favourites to become the board’s chairman.

Sethi played an influential role in the introduction of the Pakistan Super League and is said to have taken the initial steps to bring back international cricket to the country. His term as the PCB chief saw the ICC World XI, Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe visit Pakistan.

The process of convincing international teams to tour Pakistan gained more pace under Mani and Wasim Khan, who was the PCB’s chief executive during that time. The duo also revamped Pakistan’s domestic cricket structure in 2019, discontinuing the participation of departments and introducing six provincial association sides, a move that resulted in hundreds of cricketers and staff losing employment.

The provincial associations’ officials are also appointed by the PCB with their elections still pending as they depend on club scrutiny and district elections across the country.

While the issue persists, Ramiz’s impact has been positive overall. During his reign as the PCB chief, Pakistan hosted Australia in a full-fledge Test and while-ball tour, that too after New Zealand pulled out of their tour in September on the eve of the first game at Rawalpindi, and England cancelled their scheduled visit soon after. Both teams are scheduled to visit Pakistan in the 2022-23 home season.

Pakistan men’s national team also started looking like a different side since Ramiz took office. Led by Babar Azam, who was said to have been given more power as captain — Pakistan registered their maiden win against archrivals India in a World Cup when they beat them by ten wickets in the T20 showpiece last year. Pakistan reached the semi-finals of the tournament in which they were eliminated by eventual champions Australia.

Published in Dawn, April 12th, 2022

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