Play Politics

PCB vs. Pakistan Cricket

Will the PCB under Najam Sethi’s leadership promote talent or will it serve the interests of a select few by ignoring what Pakistan’s cricket actually needs?

By Muhammad Omar Iftikhar | February 2023

Power and politics have remained a part and parcel of the workings of the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB). However, it is and remains to be a major factor determining what happens inside the boardrooms of the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB). The governing body of cricket in Pakistan is again being shaken from the top to bottom. The rise of Ramiz Raja at the helms of affairs of the PCB was a stint akin to a T20 match. The Shehbaz Sharif government had to play one card to bring back former PCB chairman Najam Sethi as the top man to run cricket in Pakistan.

The current prime minister may be in power to run the show, but the former prime minister, Imran Khan, who was an ex-cricketer and had experience calling the shots when it came to enhancing the PCB and its working. With Najam Sethi back in the driving seat, the PCB has officially announced the return of Departmental Services organizations, Regions, District and Zonal Cricket Associations that were a part of and implemented through the 2014 constitution of the PCB.

The main tussle was observed between the PCB constitutions of 2019 against 2014. According to the 2019 constitution, the prime minister is not allowed to remove or withdraw the incumbent chairman of the PCB. The only way to do so is if the chairman receives a no-confidence vote by a three-fourth majority of the governing board.

The departmental cricket, however, will bring a major shift to the hierarchy of Pakistan’s domestic cricket. This move will end the six Cricket Associations that constituted Sindh, Central Punjab, Southern Punjab, Balochistan, Northern and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. The 90 City Cricket Association will also end. These will be replaced by the sixteen Regional Cricket Associations that will participate in the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy. Moreover, eight departments will play the Patron’s Trophy in the 2023-24 season. The teams associated with regions take part in the Quaid-e-Azam Cup. However, the departments or companies of banks, gas, and electricity suppliers take part in the Patron’s Trophy.

By restoring the PCB’s 2014 Constitution, the Board’s Management Committee will also restore the services of around 200 groundsmen, curators and other staff members. Former PCB Chairman, Ehsan Mani, had declared associations and departments to be defunct under the 2019 Constitution of the PCB. His successor, Ramiz Raja, followed suit by accepting and implementing Mani’s policy. Sethi, however, has other plans up his sleeves.

The new chairman, Sethi announced that the T20 Pakistan Junior League (PJL) will not be contested. This event, played by six teams of Under-19 players, was a major tournament from where the youth’s performance was judged. By abolishing this event there is one less window for the selectors to choose the raw talent that Pakistan has to offer. Furthermore, there are reports that U-19 players will be included in the Pakistan Super League (PSL). This may not bode well for the U-19 players for they may not compete against the well-experienced cricketers from Pakistan and abroad who play the PSL. The U-19 players need to play with and against U-19 players so they may determine their strengths and weaknesses.

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