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Sunday April 21, 2024

Zaka steps down as PCB management body chief

Upon replacing Najam Sethi in July 2023, Ashraf initially brought a semblance of stability to the PCB

By Asher Butt
January 20, 2024
PCB Management Committee Chairman Zaka Ashraf. — PCB
PCB Management Committee Chairman Zaka Ashraf. — PCB

LAHORE: In a development that deepens uncertainty about the future of Pakistani cricket, Zaka Ashraf resigned as the chairman of the PCB Management Committee on Friday. This decision follows a tumultuous nine-month tenure marked by controversy, internal conflicts and disappointing on-field results.

Upon replacing Najam Sethi in July 2023, Ashraf initially brought a semblance of stability to the PCB. He oversaw the conclusion of major tournaments such as the Asia Cup and ODI World Cup, albeit without achieving the desired outcomes. However, issues began surfacing soon after.

The announcement came amid a plethora of rifts and tiffs. Ashraf, while expressing commitment to cricket’s betterment, cited challenges that made it untenable for him to continue in the role.

“I was working for the betterment of cricket, but we can’t work in this way,” he said during the committee meeting. He added: “Now it is up to Prime Minister [Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar], whomever he nominates will take my place].”

Pakistan’s poor performance under Ashraf’s leadership, culminating in consecutive series losses against Australia and New Zealand, intensified calls for change. The team’s struggles were compounded by the removal of former captain Babar Azam and subsequent leadership changes with Shan Masood and Shaheen Afridi taking over in different formats.

While some attributed the team’s woes to cricketing reasons, whispers of internal rifts within the PCB also emerged.

Reports surfaced of a strained relationship between Ashraf and the Ministry of Inter-Provincial Coordination (IPC), further hindering his ability to function effectively.

Adding to the turmoil, a legal hurdle arose when Ashraf’s eligibility for the chairman position was questioned due to the absence of a mandatory BA degree. This fueled speculation about his potential disqualification, adding another layer of uncertainty to the PCB’s future.

Amid escalating internal friction and dwindling public confidence, Ashraf ultimately decided to step down. Citing his inability to function under existing restrictions, he tendered his resignation and relinquished his BoG membership, effectively removing himself from the PCB chairmanship race.

With Ashraf’s departure, the PCB finds itself at a crossroads. The tasks of appointing a new chairman, ensuring the smooth functioning of the organisation, and reviving the ailing national team’s fortunes remain immediate challenges.

Prime Minister Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar now faces the crucial task of choosing a competent successor who can navigate the turbulent waters of Pakistani cricket.

Before the resignation announcement, the fourth PCB Management Committee meeting was held at the National Cricket Academy, with Zaka Ashraf chairing the meeting.

Among the 10 committee members, Khurram Karim Somroo joined the meeting online, while the remaining nine members were present in person.

Members were briefed on PCB affairs and financial matters, with the CFO presenting periodic management accounts and financial projections.

Zaka provided a summary of milestones achieved during the current MC tenure, which began in the first week of July.

These include significant increases in PCB contributions from the ICC, a historic BCCI delegation visit to Pakistan, victories in the emerging Asia Cup and an away Test series against Sri Lanka, regaining the No 1 ODI spot in ICC rankings, hosting the Asia Cup after 15 years, offering 80 women’s domestic contracts for the first time and various successful agreements and collaborations in cricket development.

Zaka Ashraf thanked the members of the MC, PCB management and staff for their support during his tenure.

Members of the MC and PCB management expressed gratitude to him for his leadership. At the end of the meeting, Zaka Ashraf announced his decision to tender his resignation as chairman and member of the MC to the honourable Patron Caretaker Prime Minister Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar. In his concluding remarks, Zaka Ashraf expressed thanks to the honourable patron, PCB, for the confidence and trust reposed in him, extending best wishes and prayers for the betterment of Pakistan and Pakistan cricket.