LAHORE: Pakistan Cricket Board’s (PCB) new chairman Zaka Ashraf finally graced the board’s headquarters - the Gaddafi Stadium Lahore - 17 days after his appointment to replace Ijaz Butt.
With his extension as the ZTBL president signed just days before President Zardari appointed him the PCB chief, Zaka had to resign from that post before he could join the cricket board. The death of Nusrat Bhutto earlier this week delayed things further but after driving into the stadium premises, he was formally welcomed by Subhan Ahmad, PCB’s Chief Operating Officer, before the new chairman warned critics and fans to give him time before expecting wholesale changes.
“Today is my first day and I need about two to three months to settle down during which i will study the system before making any decisions,” Ashraf told reporters in Lahore. “My target is to revive the lost glory of the Pakistan cricket on domestic and International level. I will work on bringing International cricket back to Pakistan by meeting all the security concerns.”
Critics doubt that Pakistan cricket will be able to recover from the mess that former chairman Butt left it in. However, Ashraf, planning a revival, confirmed his plans of meeting former greats in order to achieve reforms in Pakistan cricket.
“I will be meeting the legends of the game soon to plan for domestic structure. The senior players have to work with the board for the improvement of Pakistan cricket. I am meeting Imran Khan soon as well,” said Ashraf before adding that his objective was to promote talent and that committees will be formed for the promotion of talent across the country.
One of the most important matters on his agenda will be the return of Shahid Afridi who recently reversed his conditional retirement. Afridi refused to play for the Butt-led board after he was stripped of captaincy following the tour of West Indies. The former captain had since insisted his willingness to represent Pakistan if the chairman and coach were removed.
“In my opinion, Afridi is a great one-day player. However, I will have a discussion with the experts about him and my thoughts can be changed. Afridi has contacted me and I will meet him soon.
“Apart from Afridi, Pakistan has a great talent and I will be working for the grooming of that talent, ensuring that the National Cricket Academy does more to carve out the talent that exists in this country.”
Hockey chief meets Ashraf
Following his arrival at Gaddafi Stadium, the new PCB chairman was called on by the Pakistan Hockey Federation Chairman Qasim Zia.
“I came to congratulate Ashraf on taking charge of the PCB,” said Zia. “It’s a big responsibility and I have complete trust in him that he will do the right things that will benefit the cricket in Pakistan. I hope he can bring cricket back to Pakistan and I hope that he gets a chance to prove his qualities and capabilities.”
Published in The Express Tribune, October 29th, 2011.
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