LAHORE: While counting a number of successes made during his nine-month tenure and plans aimed at further improving the game, Pakistan Cricket Board chairman Ramiz Raja on Friday said if the PCB constitution contained any provision for changing the chairman after the change of prime minister they could replace him, but added that following this move as a tradition was ‘not good’.
Former Test captain Ramiz, who some media reports say may be changed by recently-elected Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif, said during a presser there were reports people were asking why Ramiz was still PCB chief.
“My argument to this is: if it [changing the PCB chairman] is in the constitution then it is okay, [but] if it is a tradition then it is not good,” Ramiz said during the one-hour media conference after chairing the 69th meeting of the PCB Board of Governors (BoG) at the National High Performance Centre (NHPC) of the Gaddafi Stadium.
In the past, replacing a PCB chairman whenever a new prime minister or president who held the portfolio of PCB patron-in-chief came, was a usual practice.
When Ramiz’s attention was drawn towards the fact that Shahbaz Sharif had met former PCB chairman Khalid Mahmood but not him so far and some leaders in the present government had categorically stated they would soon send Ramiz home, the incumbent PCB chief sounded philosophical yet remained simple.
“Look, he [the PM] is the PCB patron-in-chief. I think if fans are with you and your performance also speaks [in your favour] then it will be difficult [for the authorities] to make a decision but he [PM] is the patron-in-chief and it is his call,” the 59-year-old Ramiz said.
“I think if the Pakistan team is giving [good] performances then our discussion should not be to change the chairman. Rather the focus should be on the team’s performance, to point out its weak and strong areas,” he emphasised.
Ramiz said he had a number of plans to develop the game which he sought to discuss with PM Shahbaz Sharif.
“I have so many options. However, my pipeline project, particularly the junior league, pathways programme for 100 junior cricketers and hiring foreign coaches for domestic cricket are my excitements and these are important for Pakistan cricket,” he said.
“I have written to the prime minister a letter for the meeting to brief him over the future plans,” Ramiz said.
“There is no issue of ego as we all need to lift the game, and should not destroy our cricket on the desire of a couple of individuals.”
Answering a question, Ramiz said when previous patron-in-chief Imran Khan, who made Ramiz PCB chairman, left as PM, he (Imran) blocked his (Ramiz’s) number.
Ramiz said when he took charge as PCB chief nine months ago, he aimed to bring excellence in three spheres — cricket, commercial and organisational.
“The success rate of the Pakistan team is 75 per cent, while India’s success rate is 68 per cent, England’s is 45 and New Zealand 38. All our opponents are richer in resources as compared to Pakistan,” he pointed out.
“From the commercial point of view, the model of the HBL-Pakistan Super League has increased 81 per cent, as our funds [currently] are at the highest level. We are making properties in the shape of a junior league and pathway programme. Every PSL franchise received Rs810 million from the seventh edition in which all matches, for the first time, were held in Pakistan with capacity crowds,” he underlined.
Responding to a query, Ramiz said he wanted to salute Multan fans who came to watch the recently-held Pakistan-West Indies ODIs in extremely hot weather.
Speaking on the subject of security, the PCB chief said they have decided to make arrangements for the touring teams to stay inside the stadiums’ premises in order to resolve the issue once and for all.
“Yes, due to [stringent] security arrangements during matches fans all over Pakistan have faced too many problems. Therefore, we have decided to build 70 rooms at the National Stadium Karachi, 30 at the National High Performance Centre, Lahore and 70 in Multan for the teams to stay there. In this way, we can avoid [additional] security expenditure as well as inconvenience to citizens.”
Commenting on the matter of upgrading the major cricketing venues across Pakistan, Ramiz said the PCB had no lease agreement for the Multan Cricket Stadium, Gaddafi Stadium, Pindi Cricket Stadium and now LCCA ground, which was given to the PCB by Lahore commissioner last year. “Therefore, it is tough for the Board to invest on developing the infrastructure of these venues,” he said.
In fact, he added, the PCB needed new stadiums particularly in the small cities where fans were waiting to see world-class players in action.
Ramiz said the idea to install drop-in pitches had been shelved, adding it was causing too many transportation-related problems.
“Now we are working on procuring Australian soil besides bringing in their curators to prepare pitches of international standard,” he said, adding 107 new pitches across Pakistan were being laid.
Ramiz said Pakistan’s win against India in the 2021 T20 World Cup proved a game changer.
Some changes in the team management made before World Cup had a positive impact, he said.
“Even my family was against any kind of changes at that crucial time but I made them [hiring of coaches, Matthew Hayden of Australia and South African Vernon Philander], and it served the team,” he recalled.
To a number of questions, Ramiz did not show eagerness to have elected members on the PCB’s BoG and the general body.
“I think the system based on elected members has its own challenges as many people are used to even blackmail the PCB while there are only a few individuals who want to work with heart and soul for the game’s welfare. However, now within three months office-bearers will be elected as scrutiny of the clubs through an outsourced system has started,” he said.
On the resumption of departmental cricket which was abolished during the government of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, the chairman had a different stance.
“In place of departmental cricket, the PCB is taking care of around 250 cricketers, who are earning Rs3.5 to Rs5.5 million per year from domestic cricket. [Moreover], a letter was written by the PCB to departments and companies [for the resumption of departmental cricket] but no enthusiastic response was received from them,” he said.
Published in Dawn, June 25th, 2022