KARACHI : Former Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) Chairman Najam Sethi has brushed aside allegations about phone tapping of board officials during his tenure as board’s chief.
Speaking in an interview, Sethi said that the board has been affected by internal rivalries and corruption and people who are spreading such lies are not sincere with the organisation.
“It looks to me that those who were indulging in such activities spread this lie about phones being tapped. What this points to is a tragedy which is that the PCB has been beset with internal rivalries and corruption,” Sethi said while talking to PakPassion.net. “This has eroded the organisation and I have had to fend off such lies and propaganda which has been originating from within the organisation.”
He added: “The facts are that there was a lot of leaking of PCB’s internal affairs due to rivalries inside the establishment and information which was false was being given out to undermine each other. I sent out a note saying, please do not do this and if we find out who is leaking information which is damaging PCB, then we will take action against those persons.”
Sethi — who resigned as PCB chairman soon after Prime Minister Imran Khan’s oath-taking ceremony — also said that the PCB cannot function if the government is not on its side which is why he vacated his position.
“Realistically speaking, if the Patron of Pakistan cricket does not like the Chairman then there is a problem as he represents a powerful state institution and the fact is that the PCB cannot function when the government is against it,” he said.
Sethi also pointed out two reasons behind his resignation by saying: “Even though I had two more years to go before the end of my term and technically the Patron could not remove me without removing the whole board, I decided to step aside for two reasons. The first point being that if the Patron does not want me, there is no point hanging around as it will hurt and destroy the PCB and you don’t want to do that. The second point is that this is a Patron who has a vision for Pakistan cricket and one who is a legend in his own right and whether one agrees or not, he must be given an opportunity to take charge. He is a very special Patron of the PCB and there is a lot of public support for his views and knowledge.”
The 70-year-old also considers Pakistan Super League (PSL) his greatest achievement during his reign as chairman PCB.
“Holding the Pakistan Super League stands out as possibly the topmost achievement during my tenure as PCB Chairman,” he said.
Sethi also highlighted the difficulties encountered in organising the league by stating: “This was an uphill task due to many internally created hurdles by the PCB establishment. It was incredibly difficult to get people to work together and to overcome financial, administrative and organisational issues. Then there was the matter of keeping all the franchises happy and in line with the objectives of the project. This was important, especially when the business model wasn’t entirely clear to them. I had to constantly try and explain things to them which was an uphill task in itself.”
Sethi also said that he supports PM Imran’s ideas about revamping domestic cricket with more emphasis on regional cricket but it was unfortunate that he was not able to bring this task to a fruitful conclusion during his tenure.
“You will be surprised to note that one of the first things that I wanted to do when I was appointed as Chairman PCB was to try and organise regional cricket along the way its organised all over the world which is also what Imran Khan has been saying all along,” he said. “We had to have quality regional teams and we must have a system which feeds talents to those teams. This would allow for a fiercely competitive and high-quality environment.”
He further stated: “What we need to do is to merge the system in a way that we only have regional cricket and that departments should become sponsors of cricket, rather than cricket playing agencies of their own. When that happens, you will get proper fan basis and the regional sub-nationalisms coming into the equation and you will see the stadiums filling up.”
Sethi also shed light on the complexities involved in changing the current domestic structure but he expected Imran Khan to take on this challenge.
“For the removal of departments from Pakistan cricket, a change in constitution is required which isn’t as easy as it sounds, as I found out when I tried to change it. There was a revolt against me and people even went to parliament to stop me from changing the cricket structure which was producing some top stars for the country,” he said. “I believe that Imran Khan should take on this challenge and revamp the domestic structure.”
Sethi also had a word of advice regarding the priorities for PM Imran’s nomination for next PCB chairman and former ICC President Ehsan Mani.
“I think the priorities for the next Chairman and his team are simply to review all the projects that we have initiated in our time and to see them to completion. If that is not done, then there will be a price to be paid for that as that would have the PSL hanging in the balance and also jeopardise the bringing back of international cricket to Pakistan. Any other initiatives that we started should also be taken to their logical conclusion to benefit Pakistan cricket,” he said.