KARACHI: Pakistan cricket followers finally let out a sigh of relief after Ijaz Butt, who completed his three-year tenure on Saturday, was understood to have been replaced as Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chairman. The PCB’s chief patron President Zardari has apparently picked former ZTBL president Zaka Ashraf.
Although a formal notification from the President’s office is yet to be issued, Ashraf confirmed his appointment and told Aaj TV that his priority was to improve Pakistan cricket’s image after a series of scandals.
“I’ll work day and night to live up to the president’s expectations and pay back the confidence he’s placed in me,” said Ashraf before adding that he would select players on merit and try to improve relations with international boards.
Ashraf was a member of Pakistan Peoples Party Central Executive Committee when he was named ZTBL’s chief three years ago and is also a former chairman of Pakistan Sugar Mills Association, as well as a close friend of President Zardari. He hails from Bahawalpur, belonging to a traditional industrial and farming family. After passing out from Cadet College Petaro, Ashraf completed his bachelor’s degree and became part of the family business, the Ashraf Group of Industries.
Meanwhile, ZTBL’s press officer Israr Ahmed Kasana also confirmed the appointment. “The new chairman’s prime target is to revive our lost status,” Kasana told The Express Tribune.
His appointment follows weeks of speculation surrounding Butt’s replacement, ending his tumultuous stay in office, termed by many as the worst for Pakistan cricket.
During Butt’s tenure, Pakistan won the 2009 World Twenty20. However, the attack on Sri Lankan cricketers in 2009 and the spot-fixing saga, which was preceded by Butt labelling England’s cricketers as match-fixers, brought Pakistan cricket to its knees.
The appointment may also see the return of former captain Shahid Afridi to international cricket. “Ashraf is not a fan of controversies and will woo back players who can still contribute to Pakistan cricket,” said Kasana.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 12th, 2011.