Friday September 17, 2021

PCB boss Wasim once climbed Edgbaston stadium fence to watch Imran Khan play

BIRMINGHAM: Once I climbed the fence of Edgbaston cricket stadium to watch my favourite cricketers Imran Khan and Mohsin Khan in action because I didn’t had the ticket for that match, revealed Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) Wasim Khan in an exclusive interview with Geo News at his home town Brimingham before flying back to Pakistan.

Wasim, whose parents migrated to the UK from Bhimber area of Azad Jammu and Kashmir, was born in Birmingham in 1971, the same year when his all time favourite cricketer and now the Prime Minister of Pakistan Imran Khan made his cricket debut in the same city at Edgbaston. Coincidentally he was appointed CEO of PCB in 2019 by Imran Khan when the latter took charge as PM, who is also patron-in-chief of Pakistan cricket.

Sharing his memories during the 1982 Edgbaston Test match, Wasim said: “Kids do that sort of things and I was no exception either. I was 12 years old from inner city Birmingham so I and a couple of friends climbed the fence and went inside the stadium to watch that match and support Pakistan”.

Wasim was the first British born Pakistani or Muslim to play county cricket when he made his debut for Warwickshire County Cricket Club (CCC) in 1995. But his career was short, he played just 58 first class games scoring at an average of 30 with five 100s and 19 fifties or more.

He agrees that as a player he had an average career but still he’s proud of his achievements as a player.

“I played for England under 19 and was part of the 1995 Warwickshire squad who won the championship double, sharing a dressing room with players like Donald and Pollock and nobody can take those achievements away from me,” said Wasim.

In 1995 when he started playing for Warwickshire players like Wasim Akram, Waqar Younis, Courtney Walsh, Curtly Ambrose, Mushtaq Ahmed, Shaun Pollock and Javagal Srinath were also playing in the county circuit.

“I used to open with Nick Knight and averaged 49 in that season with a highest score of 181 not out in my first season,” added Wasim.

Wasim said that in his playing days the South African pacer Allan Donald was his favourite player, with whom he not only shared the dressing room but also used to chat and practice a lot with him.

Wasim wasn’t able to make it to England’s first 11 but he once stood as a substitute fielder for Pakistan during their tour of Australia in 1996-97.

He said that passion for cricket and Pakistan runs in his blood but it is sad to see that despite welcoming people who come from Pakistan with open arms in the UK the British Pakistanis don’t get the same treatment there owing to some prejudice against them.

“When Micky Arthur was in Pakistan everyone was respecting him but when a British Pakistani went to serve in Pakistan the attitude towards him was slightly different. In my opinion a change of mindset is required to see what set of skill a person has, and not where did he come from.”

“I’m a British Pakistani and that is a fact that can’t be changed. Every country has its on cricketing system. In many other countries outsiders are working there like the CEO of West Indies cricket and CEO of Australian cricket are from other countries. All the time I say to do a comparative study of what was happening two to three years ago in Pakistan cricket and what we are doing now,” Wasim added.

Before joining the PCB, Wasim had a successful career as an administrator. He became the director of Cricket Foundation in 2005 and later became its CEO in 2009. At that time Wasim was regarded as one of the most influential persons in English cricket after he developed a £50 million per year programme “Chance to Shine” to promote cricket in the state schools at the grassroots level. For his services to cricket he was awarded MBE by the Queen in 2013.

Wasim told Geo News that he’s working to develop a similar programme to promote school cricket in Pakistan. There were some set-ups for school cricket in cities like Karachi but in other cities it was running on ad hoc basis but no organised structure of school cricket was currently working in Pakistan, he added.

“We have set up six cricket associations and under the clubs there will be school cricket and a framework will also be set up to deliver school cricket. Hopefully, it will be set up within two to three years,” Wasim said.

Wasim also served as the CEO of Leicestershire County Cricket Club from 2014-18. He was the first Muslim to run affairs of any major sports club in the UK.

Responding to a question about differences between running a county club and cricket board of a country of 22 million people, Wasim said the difference was huge.

“I’m an administrator. The job is the same but at a much bigger scale. My job is not to select teams but to make the PCB financially viable, develop systems and develop stronger structures for long term sustainability,” he added.