While the nation was gripped by election fever, the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) quietly slipped in a press release on May 8, towards the end of which it confirmed Zaka Ashraf as the board’s first elected chairman.
The appointment came a month ahead of the International Cricket Council’s deadline for member boards to be free from political influence. It was also, according to the PCB, done in accordance with the board’s constitution despite no representatives being present from Karachi and Lahore. Two of the regions presented in the meeting that elected Mr Ashraf as the chairman were created last year — some argue for this very purpose. The two candidates for the post, however, were nominated by the president of Pakistan who is also the patron of the PCB, thus defeating the purpose of the change — to be free from political interference.
The general elections and a change in government were bound to force a change at the helm of the PCB and Mr Ashraf’s timely “election” — he was appointed PCB chief in 2011 after Ijaz Butt’s tenure ended — will see him stay in the position for another four years. Mr Ashraf’s frequent press conferences, presence at matches and bulging air miles collection did help him build a public profile but most pundits will argue that that did little to help Pakistan cricket. The proposed and much talked-about domestic Twenty20 league was indefinitely postponed. The domestic structure was revamped but to no effect and the haphazard manner in which the tournaments were organised has been there for everyone to see. Despite harping on about bringing international cricket back to Pakistan, Mr Ashraf finally realised the ground reality after several refusals. The tussle with the Bangladesh board reached new embarrassing lows and while Pakistan did manage a series in India, the appointment of foreign coaches on hefty salaries — with no substantial results to show — have raised several questions. While a change in government can still alter things at Gaddafi Stadium, one hopes that Mr Ashraf will, from now on, run the PCB with administrative perfection and a positive cash flow despite the obstacles.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 12th, 2013.
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