Naqvi’s challenge

Naqvi is newest addition to a long list of political appointees handpicked to run cash-rich PCB by whoever is in power

By Editorial Board
February 15, 2024
Chief Minister of Punjab and Chairman PCB Syed Mohsin Raza Naqvi (c) talking with media persons during the inauguration ceremony of PSL-9 in Provincial Capital on February 13, 2024. — Online

Last week, following yet another round of musical chairs, Mohsin Naqvi was installed as full-time chairman of the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) for a period of three years. His appointment came just about ten days before the start of the ninth edition of the Pakistan Super League (PSL) and just a couple of days before the general elections in which Naqvi oversaw the voting process in the country's largest province in his capacity as Punjab's caretaker chief minister. Naqvi is the newest addition to a long list of political appointees handpicked to run the cash-rich PCB by whoever is in power. His critics reject him as somebody with little or no cricketing credentials just like his predecessor Zaka Ashraf. However, his supporters believe Naqvi could just be the man Pakistan cricket needs. They underline his reputation as a ‘doer’ and cite the various projects he is said to have run successfully in Punjab.


On his part, Naqvi has made a cautious start by announcing that he will take his time before making any major decisions. His first task would be to ensure the success of the PSL which gets underway in Lahore from February 17. The professional T20 league has emerged as the most important domestic event in Pakistan sports since its inception back in 2016. It's a perfect platform for young cricketers and played an instrumental role in bringing international cricket back to Pakistan following years of isolation. Perhaps equally importantly it helps the PCB earn tens of millions of dollars every year. The league, though quite successful, has faced several hiccups over the years. This year, it could suffer as several leading international stars have skipped it because of overlapping dates with other professional leagues in South Africa, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. There isn't much that Naqvi can do about it but he would have plenty of time to take steps to ensure that the ICC Champions Trophy -- the first major event to be held in Pakistan since the 1996 World Cup -- is held here successfully. Pakistan is to host the elite eight-nation spectacle in 2025 but there are serious doubts primarily because the Indians are set to play spoilsports. Last year, the PCB was to host the Asia Cup but were forced to move most of the games to Sri Lanka after India refused to travel to Pakistan.

Apart from events like the PSL or the Champions Trophy, there are other tasks facing Naqvi. One of the chief ones will be to find ways and means to put the Pakistan cricket team back on track. In recent times, Pakistan have fared poorly on the cricket field. They flopped in the Asia Cup and then failed to make it to the last four in the World Cup in India. This summer, Pakistan will feature in the T20 World Cup in North America. Pakistan’s only T20 World Cup triumph came in 2009 in England. They will be one of the main contenders for the coveted title but a lot of work needs to be done. The team began its preparations on the wrong foot when it was trounced in New Zealand earlier this year. It will need to regain confidence in the coming months. Much will depend on the workings of the PCB. There have been too many upheavals in recent times. It's time to stabilize things and put the house in order. And to do that Naqvi will need to show his prowess as a good administrator.