Pakistan News

Mani backs Sarfraz as skipper, says changes in PCB inevitable

KARACHI: Sarfraz Ahmed received a major boost on Wednesday when PCB Chairman Ehsan Mani reiterated his support for the doughty wicket-keeper-batsman as Pakistan captain with the World Cup barely eight months away.

Addressing his maiden media conference here in the city since being appointed the chairman of the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) nearly two months ago, Mani voiced his support for Sarfraz as the national team leader.

“I think this (captaincy) issue has been unnecessarily raised for a while now. As the PCB chairman, I feel Sarfraz is doing a great job as the Pakistan captain across all formats. He was first appointed (as the T20 skipper) by Shaharyar M. Khan and then became captain of one-day and Test sides with the passage of time,” Mani told reporters at the Hanif Mohammad High Performance Centre in the vicinity of the National Stadium.

“Our team has been performing very well in recent times and there is tremendous camaraderie in the ranks. The credit for this definitely goes to Sarfraz and Mickey Arthur. The results speak for themselves and Sarfraz’s own form is extremely good now.”

“There is no doubt in my mind over Sarfraz being the Pakistan captain. We have full trust in his leadership qualities. So the question of who is going to lead at the (2019) World Cup is meaningless.”

He went on to add: “Under his captaincy, Pakistan won the Champions Trophy and we are the top-ranked T20 team in the world.”

Mani, who was accompanied by PCB chief operating officer Subhan Ahmad and National Cricket Academy’s director Mudassar Nazar, said that his visit to the city was brief because he wanted to monitor the progress of renovation work at the National Stadium. He stressed that the main priority for him was the overall betterment of Pakistan cricket.

“I am delighted to be amongst you because it was long overdue (for me) to be visiting the nursery of Pakistan cricket since becoming the board chairman,” he remarked. “I had always viewed Karachi as the backbone of Pakistan cricket and strategically it remains the most important centre of the country. The list of great cricketers coming from here is endless.

“When Karachi cricket is strong, so is Pakistan cricket. It was imperative for me to come and see myself the pace of renovation work and overall infrastructure of the National Stadium. This is a very short trip but I promise to come again during the emerging (ACC) tournament in December and meet you individually.”

Mani strongly indicated to a question that the face of PCB would be changed in due course.

“Despite apprehensions being expressed by different quarters that expected changes on the PCB front are not forthcoming following the general elections in July, I am saying this with conviction in clear terms — yeh mera waada hai kay tabdeeliyan aayen gi (I give my word that changes will come) — not just in the PCB but there will be a restructuring of the board as well as of Pakistan cricket on the whole,” the chairman asserted.

“However, I’ll do them at a suitable time when I feel they are necessary. But the changes are inevitable and the need of the hour for the overall betterment of Pakistan cricket. Further, we have already begun the process of changes in the PCB and we are taking the route towards a policy of transparency because I personally feel that we must strengthen the cricketing infrastructure for a better future.

“There are a number of issues that need be addressed as topmost priorities of our working. Domestic cricket is one area that has to be reorganised and rationalised from all aspects to bring it at par with most of the other top cricket-playing nations. But we need time because I don’t believe in taking spur-of-the-moment decisions and would act, from time to time, whenever there is need for a change.”

Mani said, “Questions pertaining to department and regional cricket have to be resolved after taking all stakeholders on board. Mind you, it won’t be an easy task. Every step going forward has to be monitored. The loopholes have to be removed to win the confidence of all concerned.”

In the meantime, the soft-spoken Mani calmly ducked underneath a lot of hard-hitting queries rela­ted to the appointment of Wasim Akram and Mohsin Khan on the newly-formed cricket committee that forced to retract his statement on the Justice Qayyum match-fixing report committee as well as Sethi threatening to take PCB to court over the publication of his expenses during his tenure in the board.

“I think we should learn to view these things in a broader perspective. I repeat again there was no intention of rubbishing the (Qayyum) report from all angles during the press conference in Lahore recently. There was no sanction on Wasim to stop him from working for the board,” Mani explained.

“As for Mohsin, he made those comments about Sarfraz a long time back. For me it holds no significance because as the chairman I have full confidence in Sarfraz’s ability as the team captain and there are no doubts in my mind.

“The committee we have constituted brings a lot of experience. The four people collectively bring a rich playing experience of more than 900 internationals. This (committee) has an advisory role and they will give us feedback when we require their expert opinion.”

Mudassar, meanwhile, told Dawn that the NCA would soon appoint the head of the Hanif Mohammad High Performance Centre following the abrupt departure of ex-Test spinner and former chief selector Iqbal Qasim. He said, “This is a key position that would be fulfilled through proper process. Very shortly we’ll be advertising for this vacancy. Hopefully, there will be a lot of activities at this centre once the position is filled.”

Published in Dawn, November 15th, 2018

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