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Sunday, July 3, 2011

Govt and cricket

Just a day after the International Cricket Council (ICC) banned its member nations from making political appointments to national cricket boards, the Sri Lankans announced that they accepted the ruling and had disbanded an interim committee appointed by their government to run cricket in the island. But Pakistan, where a gentleman handpicked by the government is running a one-man show, is a different story. What a top Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) official told the media after his return early on Saturday morning from Hong Kong which hosted the ICC moot shows the extent of government meddling in our cricket affairs. PCB’s Chief Operating Officer Subhan Ahmed made it clear that the Board would decide its course of action on the ICC ruling after discussing the issue with the government. “How we implement this reform will depend on our talks with the government,” Ahmed told reporters. However, the writing is on the wall for the PCB bigwigs. The ICC executive board has given cricket boards 12 months to implement free elections and another 12-month grace period before any sanctions would be considered against a member nation.

According to the ICC, the idea behind this move is to free cricket from undue influence and outright government meddling. The reform allows the ICC to suspend a member country in the event of government interference in the running of a national cricket board. Unsurprisingly, the ICC move has been welcomed by people like Imran Khan, the former Pakistan Test captain, who is a staunch critic of the current PCB set-up. Political meddling is certainly spoiling our cricket. PCB Chairman Ijaz Butt has been heavily criticised for his poor policies both at home and abroad. But he continues to weather all sorts of storms because he has the backing of President Zardari who, as the PCB’s chief patron, has the powers to hire or fire Board chiefs. Because of such direct political involvement, it is difficult to run Pakistan cricket in a transparent manner. There isn’t much accountability either. It is time our government learnt to separate sports from politics.

Pakistan hopeful of inclusion in Champions League T20

While the country gets continuously snubbed by the Champions League organisers, the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) is still not giving up hope of participation in the coveted Twenty20 tournament.
Pakistan’s representation was missing once again when organisers announced a new format for this year’s event that will be competed among 10 teams later this year. Pakistan are the only major Test nation to miss out on taking part in the mega event.
However, the PCB Chief Operating Officer Subhan Ahmed was optimistic after having a discussion with the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), he said.
“We had a discussion with the BCCI on the sidelines of the International Cricket Council (ICC) meeting,” Ahmed told reporters on returning from the ICC annual conference. “Primarily we discussed playing a bilateral series with India. Once the ties revive, we’re confident we’ll be included in the Champions League.”
Ahmed further said that Pakistan and India are scheduled to play a series in February next year, for which discussions with the Indian board will soon be held.
PCB satisfied with outcome in Hong Kong
The ICC meeting saw some major decisions being taken, including giving a ruling that requires cricket boards to end government intervention in their operations.
The PCB, whose chairman is appointed by the country’s president who also happens to be the board’s patron-in-chief, is directly affected by this ruling but Ahmed seemed content with the outcome.
“We’re satisfied with the outcome and will be discussing the ruling with the government. We will give its output to the ICC, which has understood our viewpoint and has given us two years to implement the change.”
Ahmed also expressed his satisfaction that the proposal of doing away with the rotational policy of appointing ICC presidents was deferred.
No progress in reviving international cricket
However, the PCB failed to achieve any breakthrough in their attempts to revive international cricket in Pakistan. The country has not hosted international cricket since March 2009 following an attack on the Sri Lanka team.
“The revival of cricket depends on the security situation. The ICC has assured their support on hosting an event in 2018 subject to security.”

PCB should host T20, 50-over domestic leagues: Sohail

 The resounding success of first super eights T20 tournament in Faisalabad has impressed Aamir Sohail and the former captain feels the board should organize a T20 and 50-over League in the smaller cities of the country until international cricket returns to Pakistan.

The Iqbal stadium in Faisalabad on Friday night was packed to the hilt with thousands more clamoring outside the stadium to get in for the final of the super eights tournament that saw the unfancied Rawalpindi Rams upset Karachi Dolphins.

The match also saw an eliminator over bowled in a T20 match in Pakistan to decide the winner for the first time. Both teams had tied on the final ball after Karachi set a stiff target of 165 but in the eliminator over, Rawalpindi scored 16 runs and Karachi were unable to match and lost both their batsmen.

"The way the people have poured into the stadium every day of this week long tournament shows just hungry the Pakistanis are for quality cricket," Sohail said.

"We have seen such a packed house and atmosphere after such a long time. I have no doubt that if the board organizes limited over cricket leagues all over the country it will be an instant success," Sohail added.

No foreign team has toured Pakistan since March, 2009 for security reasons after militants attacked the Sri Lankan team in Lahore in which six Pakistani police and a van driver were killed.

Pakistan has been forced to relocate its next two "home" series against Sri Lanka and England also to Dubai and Abu Dhabi after both teams refused to play in Pakistan.

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