Seasoned journalist and former Punjab caretaker chief minister Najam Sethi has vowed to make sincere efforts to improve the state of Pakistan cricket ‘till the time’ he is chairman after being appointed the interim chief of the country’s cricket board yesterday.
Sethi, who agreed to take over the post after being asked by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, replaces Zaka Ashraf following the latter’s suspension as Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chairman by the Islamabad High Court (IHC).
The IHC, hearing a petition filed against the ‘undemocratic and unconstitutional’ election of Ashraf as PCB chairman, upheld the suspension and directed the Inter-Provincial Coordination (IPC) ministry to appoint an interim chief last week. In response, the IPC proposed the names of former captain Majid Khan, cricket analyst Chishty Mujahid and former Federal Board of Revenue chairman Mumtaz Haider Rizvi for the post.
‘No instant overhaul’
The appointment of Sethi started making the rounds early yesterday, which was later confirmed by the senior journalist himself.
However, Sethi has his work cut out. The 65-year old takes over at a time when the nation is licking the wounds of the Champions Trophy failure in England. The team finished at the bottom after losing all its matches, prompting critics to demand an overhaul in the PCB set-up, team management, selection committee and even the playing-eleven. Issues ranging from unpaid salaries of regional and national players and the selection of U19 team also need instant chairman-attention.
However, Sethi, in an exclusive interview with The Express Tribune, said that an overhaul in the PCB set-up was not part of his initial plan.
“There are a lot of pending issues that demand instant action,” said the new interim PCB chief. “The selection of the U19 team for the England tour is pending because it requires the chairman’s signature. The selection process for Pakistan’s tour of the West Indies also needs to start and many matters such as those demand attention right away.
“I will also look to work on bringing things in order — the matter of the constitution and holding an election as soon as possible. It’s not an appropriate time to make an overhaul. I will formulate an extensive report and a decision will be taken in the light of it.”
‘Will take ICC into confidence’
Although Ashraf’s election was questioned by all the major associations including Lahore and Karachi, the process was held under the new constitution that was welcomed by the International Cricket Council (ICC). However, the sport’s world governing body has maintained silence throughout the episode — from the time Ashraf was suspended to the appointment of the interim chief. Sethi, who will now represent the PCB at the ICC meeting this week, said he will look to take the governing body into confidence. “I will assure them that everything will be done as per its guidelines.”
Sethi to raise Amir’s issue
Sethi said he will also bring up the case of Mohammad Amir, the Pakistan fast-bowler serving a five-year ban due to his involvement in the spot-fixing case.
“There should be a soft corner for the young fast-bowler and I’ll speak to the ICC about it. I will also look in to the matter of Danish Kaneria who is also fighting a life-time ban while the other one involved in that matter did not suffer as severe a punishment.
“My aim, till I remain at the helm, will be to work in the interest of our cricketers and the betterment of the game.”
Published in The Express Tribune, June 24th, 2013.