During times when many sports organizations find themselves embroiled in the complexities of ‘political’ influence, the world of cricket has long been a bastion of independence and autonomy, guided by strong principles set by the International Cricket Council (ICC).
The global governing body of cricket has always advocated a clean, apolitical approach to the sport, strictly prohibiting interference in cricketing bodies and sending a clear message to the cricket boards worldwide. Recently, uncertainty has descended on the Pakistan Cricket Board, casting doubt on its adherence to these fundamentals and signaling possibility of harsh measures from the international organization.
Observers and fans alike are wondering about the consequences of this ‘uncertain’ situation as the Pakistan Cricket Board sinks further into the mud of allegations. To safeguard the integrity of the sport, it is crucial that cricket authorities swiftly terminate the alarming ‘musical chair’ game that plagues the board’s leadership. This entails a resolute ban on ‘political’ appointments to chair the board, a practice that, far from serving the sport’s best interests, has often seemed geared towards personal status and player recognition.
These ‘political’ influences have given too much power to the players, making it difficult for the cricket board to assert control. For instance, in the lead-up to the Cricket World Cup in India, the players had a lot of say in deciding their contracts, which weakened the board’s authority. Similar problems plagued West Indies cricket, where the focus on T20 leagues over national duties have had a negative impact on the team’s performance.
To put an end to this puppetry once and for all, it’s high time to appoint professionals who aren’t tied to political or personal interests. After a three-year tenure under Ehsan Mani, the former prime minister appointed former cricket captain Ramiz Raja as board chairman for the following three years, underscoring need for a ‘strong administrator’ to oversee the board’s affairs.
Reports suggested Imran Khan and Majid Khan, who are cousin brothers, played a pivotal role in the selection process. However, Majid Khan, well esteemed within the cricketing community worldwide, was overlooked as a potential candidate for the role, perhaps due to their strained relations. This intricate web of ‘political’ and personal dynamics highlights the complexity of cricket administration.
This web of influences continues to shape the direction of the Pakistan Cricket Board. When Shehbaz Sharif took over as the prime minister in 2022, a notable change took place in the cricket board’s leadership. Najam Sethi returned as the chairman of the board’s management committee on December 22, 2022. His mandate was to restore the 2014 constitution through special orders under the Pakistan Penal Code, thus reviving regional and departmental cricket and organizing elections for the PCB chairman.
This move, like others before it, represented ‘intervention’ in the board’s affairs. However, the road towards stability in the cricket administration took another unexpected turn when the Board of Governors met to elect a chairman. On July 5, 2023, Zaka Ashraf, the current chairman of the Management Committee, joined the debate and replaced Najam Sethi. Zaka Ashraf’s term will come to a conclusion on November 5, 2023.
With an interim government formed to rule the country and to hold elections for the next political government, the situation in the cricket board appears unstable. This raises possibility of a new management committee being formed under a different banner to oversee the board’s affairs, further highlighting the complex interplay in the governance of cricket. In the quest to find the ideal leadership to navigate the complex terrain of cricket administration, the inclusion of esteemed former cricketers like Majid Khan and Saleem Altaf emerges as a promising proposition.
Coupled with their strong network extending to other cricket boards, the legend cricketers’ rich experience in holding senior positions in cricket boards makes them formidable candidates. With a long-established reputation in cricket, they possess the clear-sightedness to run affairs of the cricket board with precision. By collaborating with accomplished management experts, they have potential to usher in a new era of efficiency and accountability within the cricket landscape, for the benefit of players, fans and the game itself.