New PCB chief wants to retrieve Pakistan's lost glory

Zaka Ashraf backed all-rounder Shahid Afridi returning to the team following his retirement U-turn

Lahore: Oct 28, 2011

Pakistan’s new cricket chief said on Friday his top priority will be to restore the country’s reputation following a slew of damaging fixing allegations and discipline problems.

“My focus will be to revive the lost glory in Pakistan cricket,” Zaka Ashraf told reporters upon taking charge as Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chairman, two weeks after his appointment by President Asif Ali Zardari.

Ashraf’s predecessor, Ijaz Butt, saw his three-year tenure marred by bad governance, a spot-fixing scandal and controversy over players’ discipline.

Ashraf said he will need time to decide on his own strategies.

“I need about two to three months to settle down, study the system before making any decisions accordingly,” he said.

The 59-year-old promised to seek advice from former greats, like Imran Khan, ironically one of Zardari’s greatest critics who founded his own party, Tehreek-e-Insaf (Movement for Justice), after retiring from cricket.

“I intend to get all the legends of cricket in Pakistan on board to hear their suggestions for improving both domestic and international cricket, and I plan to meet Imran Khan after October 30,” said Ashraf.

Ashraf, who headed Pakistan’s largest agriculture development bank before taking over as cricket chief, also backed all-rounder Shahid Afridi returning to the team following his retirement U-turn after Butt’s dismissal.

“In my personal view, Afridi is a good one-day player, so I will meet him and then take a decision on him,” said Ashraf.

Afridi announced his retirement in May after Butt sacked him as one-day captain. Afridi had vowed not to play under Butt as chairman.

The PCB suspended Afridi’s contract and revoked permission for him to play abroad, sanctions which the all-rounder challenged in court.

But the matter was settled after a private meeting between Butt and Afridi, with the all-rounder appearing before a PCB disciplinary committee and fined $53,000 for breach of contract.

Afridi last week announced he was ready to play for Pakistan. He is likely to return to the team for the five one-day games and a Twenty20 against Sri Lanka which follow the ongoing three-match Test series in United Arab Emirates.(AFP)