The PCB chairman’s conduct is unbecoming of the office he holds
Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chairman Ramiz Raja was at his worst behaviour outside the Dubai stadium last Sunday when an Indian journalist asked him if he had a message for the Pakistanis who wouldn't be happy after the Greenshirts lost to Sri Lanka by 23 runs in the Asia Cup final. He lost his cool and behaved angrily saying, "You must be from India and will be very happy now that Pakistan has lost."
Ramiz and the journalist continued the argument for a few more seconds before the PCB chief was seen trying to snatch the journalist's phone in a video that went viral on social media.
He was also seen warning a fan who put his arms over his shoulder, getting too close to comfort him. The Indian journalist insisted upon Ramiz's comments but his response was totally irresponsible and his tantrums were juvenile and unbecoming of a Chairman. His behaviour brought disgrace to the office of the PCB chairman.
Ramiz represented Pakistan in over 50 Test matches and scored a little over 2700 runs with two centuries despite playing in the top order. As compared to other Pakistan opening batsmen like Mudassar Nazar, Mohsin Khan, Saeed Anwar and Amir Sohail this was below par performance and he was considered a mediocre batsman.
However, he got a high profile job, despite having limited administrative experience, when Lt-Gen Tauqir Zia became chairman of PCB. Soon he made appointments of people like him in the National Cricket Academy. He even sent two very ordinary cricketers to coach the Bangladesh cricket team that had beaten Pakistan in the 1999 World Cup. Both were sent back because of their dismal performance and their off the field conduct.
It is interesting to note that Ramiz remained busy in the commentary box, under Tauqir Zia, which was a conflict of interest. The result was that the Pakistan team which was winner of 1992 World Cup and runners up of 1999 failed to qualify for the second stage of the 2003 World Cup. The Indian team visited Pakistan in 2004 and beat the home side 2-1. After the second Test at Lahore it was alleged that tickets of one full enclosure at the Gaddafi Stadium were sold in black market. All this happened while Ramiz was in charge of cricket affairs of PCB.
Ramiz has a temperamental issue and has indulged in on-air clashes with journalists and cricketers. He demonstrated a harsh attitude while taking some questions on Pakistan Junior League at a press conference in Lahore.
Former Test cricketer Muhammad Hafeez stated in a TV programme that even his 12-year-old son knows more about cricket than Razmiz does.
There was another ugly spat between Ramiz and Muhammad Yousuf who scored a record number of runs in a calendar year.
One wonders that with such a controversial background why Ramiz was appointed as the chairman. Since his appointment Ramiz has made a number of blunders, showing his immaturity and poor administrative skills.
He started his innings in the PCB with an absurd statement. The PCB would collapse if India (the Board for Control of Cricket in India) stopped funding the ICC, he said. The statement not only shocked ardent fans of cricket at home but the Indian media also trolled Pakistan and our cricket. The actual position is that the ICC organises the World Cup after every four years, and the T20 World Cup after every two years. The ICC after deducting the expenditure distributes the remaining money equally amongst the permanent members. Further, the PCB earns a specific income from sale of media rights for PSL and international matches in Pakistan. There is additional money received from sponsorship, sale of merchandise and gate money.
Ramiz boasted about organising a four-nation T20 tournament involving Pakistan, England, Australia and India. He had not done proper homework before tabling his ambitious proposal. He should have known that the ICC's MPA (Members Participation Agreement) doesn't allow any member nation to host more than a tri-nation tournament. Organising a four-nation event every year would have in any case devalued ICC's own marquee events. The proposal was shot down in the ICC board meeting. It shows Ramiz's sheer naivety.
Early this year the PCB signed an MOU with an investment/construction company which was to bear Rs370 crore ($2 million approximately) procurement cost of two or three drop-in pitches. The PCB hired a consultant from Australia to seek his advice on whether it is feasible to have drop-in pitches in Pakistan. Later the idea had to be shelved amid backlash from sane critics.
Ramiz has ignored the Development Programme at the NCA, now High Performance Centre, which has damaged the career of upcoming cricketers who needed to be trained, coached and groomed for international exposure.
The closure of departmental cricket without an alternate plan was a blunder. It was the idea of Imran Khan who couldn't understand the difference of cultures between Australia and Pakistan. Like Ehsan Mani, Ramiz continued without departmental cricket only to please Imran Khan. It ruined the career of many promising cricketers. They were deprived of their livelihood and were forced to do menial jobs. Some are reported to be driving rickshaws. There is a workable plan through which the departments can be partners of the PCB to promote cricket in Pakistan and safeguard the jobs of cricketers.
Ramiz started an ill-planned PJL and invited bids from sponsors for the six teams to compete in the League. Nowhere in the cricket world is there a junior league. Without waiting for the response the PCB reportedly appointed mentors, at a startling salary of $40,000. These mentors include Viv Richards and Javed Miandad. The response of the bids was very poor and it couldn't match the expectations of the PCB. Now the PCB will spend a huge amount from its own kitty to run this league. Sheer wastage of PCB funds!
The PCB purchased a bullet-proof car for Ramiz. Somewhere, perhaps in the Senate Standing Committee on Sports, Ramiz was asked about the vehicle and his answer was: "I have life threats". Did Ramiz inform the agencies concerned about the life threat? No past chairman has faced any life threat and used bullet proof car even when Pakistan was a frontline partner during the "war on terror" in the mid-2000s.
In fact, Ramiz has seen the writing on the wall and is creating problems for the incoming chairman. His utterance of "life threat" is a message to the foreign cricket nations that think twice before touring Pakistan where their cricket board chairman is receiving life threats.
It is time to remove Ramiz before his temper and immaturity inflict further damage to Pakistan cricket. The stakeholders and millions of cricket fans would ardently request the Patron-in-Chief of PCB to appoint a new chairman on merit alone. Amongst the former Test cricketers Majid Khan would be an ideal choice.
He is internationally admired by the cricket community, is a person of integrity, and is an excellent administrator. He will take bold decisions to extricate Pakistan cricket from its present moribund state, put it on the right track and make Pakistan one of the top cricket nations in the world once again.