Pakistan cricket at its lowest point, says PCB chief
LAHORE, July 3: Pakistan cricket has reached its lowest point due to a string of scandals involving players cheating, teams not touring the country and court cases, Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) interim chief Najam Sethi said on Wednesday.
“The way I see it Pakistan cricket is at the lowest ebb, we are not winning, our cricketers and umpires are embroiled in cheating scandals, teams don’t want to tour Pakistan because of security issues, things were never this bad,” Sethi told reporters in Lahore after returning home after attending the International Cricket Council (ICC) meetings in London.
On the pitch, Pakistan have struggled for form this year. They were whitewashed in a Test series in South Africa and then lost all three group matches in last month’s ICC Champions Trophy in England.
Sethi, a journalist and political analyst, was appointed by the government to head the PCB last month after the Islamabad High Court stopped Zaka Ashraf from working as chairman of the board on a constitutional writ petition which challenged his election in May.
The PCB is also facing number of court petitions from its affiliated regional units over the election process in which Zaka became the first elected board chairman.
Sethi insisted Pakistan cricket needed to take radical steps to avert a crisis.
“I am going to address all these issues first and foremost the team needs to start doing well again and we need to clean up our cricket as we have been embarrassed enough,” he said.
Since 2010 when the spot-fixing scandal broke out on the tour to England four Pakistan cricketers have been found guilty and banned, including former captain Salman Butt, Mohammad Asif, Mohammad Aamir and Danish Kaneria.
Test umpire Nadeem Ghauri was also banned for four years in April on corruption charges.
The PCB, Sethi said, intends to find a British-based lawyer to find a way to shave a year off Aamir’s five-year ban for spot-fixing.
Aamir’s ban expires in September 2015, but the PCB hopes to end Aamir’s ban before then.
Sethi said he discussed Aamir’s ban with fellow PCB members.
“We will soon hire a foreign lawyer in the UK to look at ways to get at least 20 per cent relief for Aamir,” Sethi said, adding the left-arm fast bowler was undergoing a rehabilitation programme, and a new ICC subcommittee will look into how he can return to international cricket when his ban ends.
No foreign team has toured Pakistan since 2009 when armed terrorists attacked a Sri Lankan team bus in Lahore in which six Pakistani policemen and a van driver were killed and members of the touring side wounded.
“As far as international teams coming to Pakistan is concerned that will only happen when the security situation improves,” Sethi said.
“The truth is no one wants to play in Pakistan in existing circumstances and we need to give teams iron clad guarantees on security to even bring representative teams to the country.
“I have talked to England and the West Indies boards for sending unofficial teams so that we can make a beginning,” said Sethi.
“I have assured the ICC and other countries that a new government has taken over and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is determined to root out terrorism and on that they agreed to review our situation, provided things really improve.”
Meanwhile, Sethi confirmed attempts were made by Pakistan organisations to suspend Pakistan’s membership in the ICC because of his appointment.
Transparency International Pakistan wrote to the ICC to say Sethi’s appointment violated the PCB’s new constitution. Sethi’s appointment was also challenged in the IHC, and the next hearing will be on Thursday. Asked about attempts to oust him, Sethi said, “It’s true,” but wouldn’t reveal names.
Sethi said he was welcomed at the ICC board meeting and “when they met with me they supported the constitution and rejected all the other things going around.”
Sethi said he did not want to stay long in the PCB. He wants to resolve key issues like the election of his replacement, and sign off on the team for the tour of West Indies before going back to his political programme at a private TV channel.
“I am a transparent man and if my appointment is challenged in the courts, I will go and the [Pakistan] tours will be jeopardised,” he said.
“If the courts now start appointing [chairmen], I want the court to appoint a chairman. And if the team then loses, then the judge who appoints him, it will be his responsibility to explain.”—Agencies