KARACHI: Ehsan Mani, a former President of the International Cricket Council (ICC), was on Monday nominated to the post Chairman Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) just hours after Najam Sethi stepped down from the coveted position.
Prime Minister Imran Khan didn’t waste much time in naming a new PCB chief as he tweeted Mani’s nomination soon after receiving Sethi’s resignation.
Sethi’s exit was a forgone conclusion following Imran’s victory in last month’s general elections. However, the journalist-turned-cricket administrator took his time before announcing that he was quitting from the post of PCB chairman.
On Monday, Sethi announced that he was waiting for Imran to take oath as PM.“I was waiting for the new Prime Minister to take oath before submitting my resignation as PCB Chairman, which I have done today. I wish PCB all the best and hope our cricket team goes from strength to strength. Eid Mubarak. Pakistan Zindabad,” he tweeted.
His tweet was soon followed by a couple of tweets from the Prime Minister, who has the authority to nominate PCB’s chairman.“I have appointed Ehsan Mani as Chairman PCB. He brings vast and valuable experience to the job. He represented PCB in the ICC; was Treasurer ICC for 3 yrs and then headed the ICC for another 3 yrs,” Imran tweeted.
In another tweet, Imran wrote: “We will follow the set procedure which entails my nominating him on the PCB Board of Governors. He may then contest elections for the position of Chairman PCB.”
Sources told ‘The News’ that among the people whom Imran met after taking oath as prime minister last Saturday was Mani.Soon after his nomination as PCB chairman, Mani announced that he was all geared up to lift Pakistan cricket.
“I want to improve Pakistan cricket on the grassroots level. We will enhance the domestic structure as according to PM Imran’s vision,” the 73-year-old said said. “PM wants Pakistan cricket to reach the top at the international level.”
The Rawalpindi-born Mani represented Pakistan at the ICC from 1989-96 and was later nominated for the position of ICC President by the country. He took over that position back in 2003. Before that, he had also served on various positions in the world body.
Meanwhile, Sethi in his resignation letter addressed to the PM said that he served Pakistan cricket diligently.“I was nominated to the Board of Governors of the Pakistan Cricket Board (as per the Pakistan Cricket Board Constitution of 2014 approved by the ICC and Supreme Court of Pakistan) by ex-Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif from 2014-2017 and then again from 2017- 2020 by ex-Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi,” he wrote in the letter.
“I was unanimously elected Chairman PCB in August 2017 by all ten members of the BoG for a three-year term ending in 2020. I believe I have served the cause of cricket diligently.
“You have said on many occasions that you have a vision for Pakistan cricket. Therefore, it is only proper that you should assume charge and responsibility for assembling a management team for PCB that enjoys your full confidence and trust.
In order to facilitate your objectives in the interest of Pakistan cricket, I hereby submit toy resignation as Chairman of PCB and Member of its BoG,” he concluded.Sethi, whose last stint as PCB chairman began in 2017, had been serving in the Board since 2013, soon after PML (N) won the general elections. Back then he was involved in a power struggle with former chairman Zaka Ashraf; the pair swapped positions several times before Sethi finally consolidated his control at the helm of the Board.
Agencies add: The inevitability of Sethi’s resignation has its roots in politics rather than cricket. Sethi was appointed caretaker chief minister of Punjab, the stronghold of Nawaz Sharif’s PML-N party, Imran’s main political rival and the winner of the 2013 parliamentary elections. Imran repeatedly accused Sethi of unjustly helping Sharif win the elections that year. In 2014, Sethi was nominated to the PCB board of governors by Sharif, approved by the ICC and the Supreme Court of Pakistan. But it was widely believed that if Imran ever was to come to power, Sethi’s days at the PCB would be numbered. It was telling that Imran didn’t so much as thank Sethi for his time as chairman, instead focusing on the “vast and valuable experience” Mani would bring to the job.
While Sethi only formally became PCB chairman in 2017, he was de facto the most influential man in the organisation for much of his predecessor Shaharyar Khan’s tenure, where he served as the head of the PCB executive committee. Most visibly, he was the chairman of the Pakistan Super League, Pakistan’s international T20 franchise competition. It is arguably what he’ll most prominently be remembered for, particularly since the competition is also viewed as the gateway towards the return of international cricket to Pakistan. The 2017 PSL final was held in Lahore, and the 18 months since have seen a trickle of matches played in Pakistan’s two major cities, Lahore and Karachi. With the PSL not a separate entity to the PCB - that idea was floated but ultimately never came to fruition - Sethi will play no further part in that competition either.
Mani’s appointment is contingent on an election process - but that is merely a formality. As a fierce critic of the finance and governance draft proposal put forward by Australia, England and India at the ICC in 2014, which later came to be known as the Big Three reform, he won fans in many of the other countries, particularly Pakistan, who held out against the reforms longer than any of the other seven Full Member boards. He has built much goodwill in Pakistan over the years, especially in 2009 when he accused the BCCI of trying to isolate Pakistan when the Indian board rejected Pakistan’s proposal to host their share of matches at neutral venues.