KARACHI: Since taking over as Pakistan Cricket Board’s chairman, Ramiz Raja has been talking big. On Monday, as his side collapsed against an Australian onslaught here at the National Stadium, the former Pakistan captain once again announced big plans.
Speaking at the National Stadium, Ramiz confidently talked about hosting top-tier teams like Australia and England at home in triangular events, upgrading the Pakistan Super League (PSL) into an event that is big enough to rival the cash-rich Indian Premier League (IPL) and turning an under-achieving national women’s team into a winning unit. He also announced plans to bring about a sea change in how cricket is played in Pakistan with world-class pitches, international coaches and state-of-the-art facilities.
These are boldly ambitious plans for a cricket board which, according to Ramiz’s own admission, doesn’t have many sources of income and relies heavily on income coming from the International Cricket Council (ICC) and PSL.
But Ramiz believes that Pakistan can achieve all these goals. He is of the view that it is important for PCB to take PSL, it’s money-making T20 enterprise to a level where it can rival IPL, world cricket’s most lucrative league.
“We need to create new properties to be financially independent. We have nothing for now but the PSL and ICC funds. There’s an argument over the model from next year; I want to switch it to an auction model from next year,” he said. “The market forces are conducive, but we’ll sit down with the franchise owners to discuss it,” he added.
“This is a game of money. When the cricket economy grows in Pakistan, our respect will rise. The main driver of that financial economy is the PSL. If we take the PSL to auction model, increase the purse, then I’ll put it in the IPL bracket. And then we’ll see who goes to play the IPL over the PSL.”
Ramiz also wants to add new PSL venues, stressing that the leagues needs to be played in cities other than Karachi and Lahore.“We want it to be played in smaller cities where fans are desperate to come and watch its matches,” said Ramiz who reiterated plans for a home and away structure for future editions.
“We want the PSL to be on a home and away basis from next year. The gate money will be excellent, and we want to elevate the concept of the PSL.
“Every side’s purse will increase, and if they want to improve they’ll have to spend money. When you go from a draft system to this, the world’s talent suddenly becomes available to you. I’ve spoken to a couple of the franchise owners; they’re quite happy to experiment with this. I’ll talk to the others, too. It’s in the embryonic stages, but it’s top of my wish list,” he said.
Another goal on his wish list is an improvement in the national women’s team’s performance. The team has flopped miserably in the ongoing Women’s World Cup in New Zealand and have lost all their four games so far.
“We want to regularise the women’s cricket calendar. The more they play the better they’ll be,” he said. “You can’t just go into hibernation and then expect them to beat Australia. It’s not going to happen. We have our limitations and cultural issues, and to get out of that we have to fix their calendar. They need to play first-class-style three-day matches. Then look at selection and U19 structure.
“We want to sign up young girls and develop them. Right now, the excitement is we might launch a T20 league before India, and the world can’t believe that because there’s a particular perception around Pakistan that needs to be broken.”
“In January-February, we’re thinking of the women’s PSL,” he said. “There’s a lot of traction and a lot of takers for it. Pak women’s cricket needs to improve a lot, and that will only happen when we give them an environment where they can make money and share the dugout with world-class players.”