Tuesday August 16, 2022

Pakistan confirms participation in NZ tri-series

June 26, 2022

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chairman Ramiz Raja has confirmed the national cricket team’s participation in the tri-nation T20I series in New Zealand ahead of the October World Cup starting in Australia.

In an exclusive online interview with a group of senior sports journalists (‘The News’ included) Saturday, Ramiz said that the PCB has given the go-ahead for the tri-nation series that also includes Bangladesh. “After receiving confirmation dates from the touring England side that is due here in Pakistan on September 15, we have confirmed our participation in the tri-nation series to be hosted by Cricket New Zealand. I wanted my team to play a few internationals more or less amid Australian environments, ahead of the World Cup. Now the team will be having a good opportunity to test their combination and leading players’ form during the tri-nation series in New Zealand,” he said.

Pakistan is expected to leave for New Zealand on October 4 to figure in the double header series. The two top finishers will then go on to play the final. NZ Cricket is expected to announce the schedule soon.

The PCB chairman has also decided to hire Matthew Hayden for the World Cup while batting coach Mohammad Yousaf will also accompany the team as the batting coach. Hayden will join the team in New Zealand.

Saqlain Mushtaq will continue as the team head coach till the completion of his contract. “Saqlain will be there as head coach till the completion of one year. He possibly would not be in a position to continue following a one year stint more due to his domestic engagements and priorities,” Ramiz said.

England has already confirmed arriving in Pakistan to play a seven-match T-20 series in Pakistan.

Ramiz during his interaction with journalists also hinted that some leading venues--Lahore and Karachi might host matches. “We are sorry for Multan but the venue will be adjusted for the Test series coming up.”

The PCB chairman had all praise for the Pakistan team’s performance in the recent past which now has started paying back. “Ever since we defeated India by ten wicket-the first ever win in the World Cup, our brand of cricket is being cherished around the world. We are getting a bigger response and with greater respect. That never happened in Pakistan cricket before.”

He asserted that the impact of international cricket would be visible on domestic cricket. “The PCB top 100 programme is destined to bring fruit. We will hire foreign coaches for our domestic cricket for the very first time. The missing link between up-and-coming and top-level cricket will be filled with this new concept,” he said, adding that school cricket would be promoted at top level. Raja said he had never been that administrator who gets involved in the local politics. “I am not that sort of administrator who looks after his own interest by getting into petty politics.”

Ramiz Raja said whatever plans he had initiated during the last eight months are backed by sponsorship.

He said that he never had interfered with the selection. “Since we have achieved excellent results. I am not in favour of any changes in selection. Babar Azam is the more powerful captain and is a very important part of the selection.”

Ramiz Raja admitted that a close series loss against Australia was sort of a reality check for the PCB. “These slow tracks are not serving our cricket in real terms. Since our forte is fast bowling, we have to look for those options where we can play to our strengths and also feel at ease while playing abroad. My intentions are to see Pakistan cricket at the top. The pitches we are playing are not good. It is impossible to carry drop-in pitches from Australia. We are however in the process of importing soil and specialist curators,” he said.

On the future four-nation that is a brainchild of Ramiz Raja himself, he contemplated that his idea was more to bring the best teams including Pakistan and India back on cricketing grounds.

On the Pakistan priorities in the forthcoming Future Tour Programme (FTP) starting from 2024 onward, the PCB chairman said he would be more interested in organising the tri-nation series. “Gone are the days when Boards used to play bilateral series. Tri-nation fetch you better results-both commercial and cricketing-wise.”

About the question marks of his tenure since removal of PTI govt, Ramiz said that in Pakistan, every interest seeker thought that with the change of government, there should be change at the helm of PCB. “This concept has nothing to do with cricket promotion. I am there only to make necessary changes in an effort to make the system more professional and result-oriented,” he said.

Ramiz aimed to spread cricket to all major cities of the country. “For that, we need a lease of leading grounds at leading centres. At the moment we do not have a lease of Multan, Faisalabad and Pindi Stadiums.”

As a chairman, he said he wanted to go to top gear. “I believe you just require one year to achieve your targets but that is only possible when you get a timely response. When I was offered the slot, I refused to take over PCB for six months. But on my family’s insistence, I had to accept the responsibility for the better of Pakistan cricket,” he maintained.