Najam Sethi © Getty Images
By Amir Husain
Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) Chairman Najam Sethi spoke exclusively to PakPassion.net about the impact of the recent events at the Jinnah International Airport in Karachi and the consequences it has had on the chances of Pakistan organising international cricket in the near future. Sethi also spoke about his plans to re-organise the affairs of the PCB, and to establish the Pakistan Super League (PSL), as well as the rationale behind the structuring of central contracts.
Excerpts from an interview:
PakPassion.net (PP): How big a blow is Cricket Ireland’s decision not to tour Pakistan later this year?
Najam Sethi (NS): I worked very hard to bring a foreign team to Pakistan in order to break our isolation since the terrorist attack about five years ago. My friend Giles Clarke, who heads the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB), helped persuade Ireland to make the journey to Lahore for three One-Day Internationals (ODIs) in September. We were about to sign a contract and were awaiting a No-Objection Certificate (NOC) from our government regarding security when the Karachi incident happened. The project had to be called off. But we have mutually decided to review it as soon as the situation in Pakistan improves.
PP: Can you confirm if a decision has been reached by Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) on their tour of Pakistan?
NS: We are in touch with the Sri Lankans but no decision has been taken by them so far. In summary, there is no positive news expected this year from Sri Lanka Cricket. In any case, there are no empty slots for either Sri Lanka or Pakistan this year.
PP: There were some rumours that Netherlands would play a series in Pakistan later this year; can you provide further details on that series?
NS: Yes, there was talk about it. But now all bets are off, at least for this year.
PP: When do you seriously envisage international cricket returning to Pakistan?
NS: We should consider ourselves lucky if we can persuade any top team to come to Pakistan next year, and that too if there are no more high profile terrorism cases.
PP: Do you feel that the PCB is fighting a losing battle as far as international tours to Pakistan are concerned?
NS: After the recent Karachi attack, we have been set back significantly in our quest to have our “home series” at home.
PP: You’ve been given a four-month extension as PCB chairman, do you expect to continue after this period?
NS: Actually, it is only since last February that I have had full powers as chairman to run the PCB and take decisions. I am hoping to organise elections to the post of Chairman in the next few weeks, courts permitting, under a democratic constitution in which the chairman will be held accountable.
PP: Do you not think that performance in the previous 12 months should be a factor in awarding categories for player contracts?
NS: Yes, it is now the most important factor. But there are other factors too, like historical record, seniority, etc.
PP: Are you taking feedback on structure of contracts from current and former players?
NS: Yes, we first consulted Misbah-ul-Haq, Shahid Afridi and Younis Khan. Then we asked Moin Khan, Zakir Khan and Mohammad Akram to pitch their suggestions.
PP: Can you confirm if some Pakistani players are not being allowed to play in the Caribbean Premier League (CPL), instead they are being asked to attend a camp before the tour of Sri Lanka?
NS: Players with central contracts have to be available for PCB events as first priority. But I am always keen to encourage them to play in international leagues for gaining experience. That is why Saeed Ajmal, [Mohammad] Hafeez, Misbah and some others are always on the hop.
PP: Are you now more determined than before to ensure that the Pakistan Super League happens in the United Arab Emirates (UAE)?
NS: Yes, and Pakistan Super League tenders will be invited soon for the event in January 2015 in UAE.
PP: What feedback did you get from the Prime Minister’s visit to India? Was the matter of Pakistani players participating in the future editions of the Indian Premier League (IPL) discussed?
NS: I haven’t met the Prime Minister since his India trip. So I can’t say.
PP: How excited are you about the future of Pakistan cricket in light of some of the changes you and your administration are affecting via the PCB?
NS: Pakistan cricket will take off in a couple of years after the results of the reforms we are currently undertaking. I refer to the new top coaches, fitness camps, non-sifarishi selection culture, Pakistan Super League and the revamp of the domestic cricket structure effective September 2014. Wish PCB luck and stability.
(Amir Husain is Senior Editor at PakPassion.net. The above article is reproduced with permission from http://pakpassion.net/)