Wednesday May 25, 2022

Don’t mess up Pakistan’s domestic cricket structure

March 01, 2019

Two back-to-back meetings on domestic cricket structuring ended under the new PCB management.

Following the acceptance of a demand from regional representatives in the last Board of Governors (BoG) confluence, head of the Task Force on Domestic Cricket Restructuring, Wapda Chairman Lt Gen (r) Muzammil Hussain invited heads of departmental teams and regional chiefs on for apparently brainstorming sessions.

The purpose, as read between the lines, was to consult these stakeholders before presenting a final revamped domestic structure only to inject quality into it. Careful analysis reflects that on the face of it the entire exercise seems contrary to vision having unfolded by legend Imran Khan, the Prime Minister and Patron of the PCB.

The premier wants end of departments fielding their own teams in the first-class competition. But he does agree to see rich departments sponsoring first-class teams of associations.

The other key part of his vision is to have only half a dozen or so teams playing in first-class tourney on home-away basis similar to Australian model of domestic cricket.

“What the PCB bigwigs are thinking is not on those lines what the prime minister has been advocating,” said a regional head on the condition of anonymity.

“In opposition to Imran Khan’s vision, the PCB’s high-ups are trying to help departments virtually taking over reins of the elected regional associations, getting empowerment in the name of funds contributions to rule over the not so clear regional-departmental governance model, field their team after exercising their exclusive rights to select them, appoint management of the team and so on.”

By doing so, three broad-based outcomes will be resulted: Firstly, departments would survive in the garb of the proposed merger, secondly associations would be decimated with no say in first-class cricket, and thirdly the domestic cricket would suffer grossly and perpetually with losing its notion of community support.

A disheartened regional official believed, “the powerful department heads on the BoGs are trying to suppress voice and role of elected associations.”

Interviews and frank discussions with several former and present cricketers, coaches and stakeholders paint a gloomy picture if the vision of Imran Khan is thwarted.

Many say it would be unfortunate if Khan’s vision of community participation and support is dumped in the name of fat money and saving departments from being mere sponsors of the region to fully-controlled entities in the associations.

Irrespective of what is Imran’s vision, the solution for Pakistan domestic cricket still is that let the regions and departments raise their own teams as both are stakeholders of the PCB in the present constitution.

Imran’s vision of having domestic cricket system like Australia or England may not be applicable here in Pakistan as there is a lot of difference in socio-economic cultures of Australia-England and Pakistan. Most significant difference is that in Australia and England there is social security for the masses which is not here in Pakistan.

Cricketers, sportsmen need jobs which even big associations can’t provide to them. As such departments and regions should go together. If one remembers Imran Khan himself had played for two departments in the early stage of his career. Firstly he played for Dawood Club, headed by Zakria Ghani, which also included Test cricketers Mudassar Nazar, Shafiq Papa, Agha Zahid, Abdul Qadir besides Sultan Rana, Rawalpindi’s Muhammad Sabir and many more. And later on Imran had also been an employee of the PIA as a cricketer.

So abolishing departments will do no good to Pakistan cricket which has produced and still producing world-class icons and each and everyone is nurtured its talent at club, association and departmental level before moving ahead.

Moreover those at the helm of affairs should also keep in mind that ending departmental cricket will render thousands of cricketers jobless in the country. Thus PCB’s high-ups should think hundred times before deciding about much-talked new domestic structure.