Pakistan Cricket Board chairman Najam Sethi believes older players in the national cricket team will soon be replaced by emerging stars.
Sethi, while talking to BBC Urdu, said that they are investing in future stars who will soon shine brighter for the country.
“Our star players are growing old,” said Sethi. “Their reflexes are growing slower every day. So, we are in the process of making a new team and it will take time to convert new players into stars.”
The head of the Pakistan Super League (PSL) believes the domestic T20 tournament has helped the national team improve in the shortest format of the game, but work needs to be done on the ODI team as their focus is set on winning the upcoming 50-over World Cup.
“PSL has prepared the Pakistan for T20s. We are fine in Tests, but we are weak in ODIs. Our focus is set on the 2018 ODI World Cup and we are preparing for it. We have good players available and we have back-up players in the middle-order too. They will take some time to mature but I am hopeful that everything will iron out well,” he explained.
On ODI whitewash against New Zealand
Pakistan’s most recent tour, to New Zealand, was one of both despair and triumph as the Men in Green lost 5-0 in the ODIs, but bounced back to clinch the three-match T20I series 2-1 to become the number one team in the world in the shortest format.
“We will identify the real reasons behind the whitewash in the ODIs against New Zealand after the coach and the manager present their reports,” said Sethi when asked to highlight the issues faced by Pakistan in the ODIs.
He continued by saying that the team is on the right path. “We have modern coaches and a good bunch of players, so things will get better eventually,” he said. “We have been on the number one spot in Tests in the last 12 months, while our ODI and T20I rankings also improved. We are finding new talent through school and club cricket. PSL franchises are also helping us unearth cricketing talent from the country. We will change the face of Pakistan cricket in the next two years through the steps that we have taken for the betterment of the game in the country.”
On return of international cricket to Pakistan
Pakistan is still recovering from the 2009 attack on the Sri Lankan team bus which drove international cricket away from the country. However Sethi is optimistic that they have moved forward and the event will not prevent the return of international cricket anymore.
“It is a multi-faceted problem and I can control only one aspect of it. The complete return of international cricket is dependent upon the general security condition of the country. However, there is no doubt that it has become better. I believe international cricket will return to Pakistan completely in the next two years,” he said.
The PCB chairman believes the recovery process has started and the next 12 months are important. “We will receive a go-ahead from the ICC and other country’s boards [if we want to host a team]. Whatever loss had to happen to our cricket has happened; we are in the recovery phase now. The World XI [that toured Pakistan] had a lot of big names in it. Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe have also toured Pakistan. West Indies are visiting in March. We are expecting some good news in the next 12 months.”
On PSL2 spot-fixing case
The second edition of the PSL bettered many viewership records made by the first edition and entertained the cricketing audience beyond belief, but it was also marred by a spot-fixing scandal which saw Islamabad United openers Sharjeel Khan and Khalid Latif receiving five-year bans, with a few others serving shorter bans and paying penalties.
Sethi, when asked to comment on the matter, said the standard has been set now, and anyone and everyone thinking of playing foul knows the repercussions.
“We are making sure the fundamentals are being implemented,” said Sethi. “We are keeping a close eye on everything and there is no running away from punishment now. Whoever we caught and punished, we had evidence against them. Till I am here, there is a zero tolerance policy against fixing.”