LAHORE: Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chief Najam Aziz Sethi said Friday that Pakistan would get eight years of series, including with archrivals India, earning $30 million, after agreeing to the revamp of the game’s governing body. “The PCB has agreed to the proposed International Cricket Council (ICC) revamp on the condition that it will be a part of bilateral series against all Full Members, including India, over the next eight years,” Sethi told a crowded press conference here at Gaddafi Stadium.
Pakistan, under Zaka Ashraf, had opposed changes to the ICC which hand the majority of powers and revenues to the ‘Big Three’ of international cricket – India, Australia and England. The suggested reforms were approved by majority (eight out of 10 countries in favour) at the ICC Board meeting in February, during which Pakistan and Sri Lanka abstained from voting. After an ICC meeting in Dubai on Thursday, the PCB announced it would conditionally support the reforms – to be officially signed in June this year – which Sethi said would bring major benefits to cash-strapped Pakistan.
The PCB’s chairman justified his move, reasoning that Pakistan can't afford to be isolated from the rest of cricketing world, most of which had agreed to the wide-ranging changes suggested. According to Sethi, Pakistan would gain estimated Rs 30 billion in next eight years from the bilateral agreements. “The decision was made after sensing an isolation. If we don't play big teams we could be bankrupt in the next two years so we have to stay in line and play our home series with India. Because our infrastructure is mainly run with the money generated playing international cricket, it's very important to play India because it generate major chunk of money. We have to run our cricket and we can't sit out being isolated. Hence we had to go with them but we signed with all legal binding documents and the details of all fixtures will be released soon,” he added.
India have not played a full series with Pakistan since the 2008 terror attacks on Mumbai, which New Dehli blamed on militants based across the border. Pakistan did play a short limited over series in India in December 2012 but a full tour has yet be finalised. Pakistan had not hosted any international cricket since attacks on the Sri Lankan team bus in Lahore five years ago.
Sethi also revealed that the ICC had asked the PCB to nominate a candidate from Pakistan for the ceremonial role of ICC president next year. Sethi said banned Pakistan paceman Mohammad Aamer could get a one-year relaxation in his five-year ban for spot-fixing. “The ICC has promised us to consider our request of relaxing of the ban on Aamer and a decision is expected in a meeting in June,” said Sethi. “Aamer can get a one year relaxation during which he can play first-class cricket.” Aamer, along with former captain Salman Butt and Mohammad Asif, was banned from all cricket for a minimum of five years over a spot-fixing scandal in 2010. The trio agreed to bowl deliberate no-balls in return for money during the Lord's Test against England in August 2010, a scandal broken by the now defunct British tabloid News of the World. Last year the ICC had agreed to form a committee to consider relaxing certain conditions of the ban on Aamer, regarded as one of the best young bowlers in international cricket at the time of his suspension.
The PCB is the last Full Member to have extended its support to the governance, finance and FTP changes in the ICC. When the changes, which increase the power of those three boards within the ICC, were first proposed, four Full Members had come out against them: the PCB, the Bangladesh Cricket Board, Cricket South Africa (CSA) and Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC). The proposals have since been revised and were approved by eight of the Full Members on February 8. The SLC and the PCB were the only two to refrain from voting at that meeting, and SLC extended its support to the revamp 10 days later. The PCB had been opposing the position paper right from the start, citing that the revamp is against the principle of ‘equality’ and had been objecting the proposal as whole. Since July 2013, Pakistan has been without a long-term broadcasting deal, one of the major sources of income for the PCB. With no series scheduled against India until 2020, there could be testing times for the board ahead which is already dealing with a long-standing budget-deficit. In August 2013, the deficit was nearly Rs.500 million.
“Since January we understand that various factors have been toned down but we lost the ground and our position was weak enough to crumble but the PCB stood hard and we managed to get more than enough. I am happy that we are back in business otherwise nobody was ready to talk to Pakistan and they were chalking their own bilateral tour with the exception of Pakistan cricket,” Sethi concluded.
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