LAHORE: The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) is likely to back the International Cricket Council (ICC) revamp plan at the world governing body’s board meeting next month to give it leverage with other countries, especially India. The PCB is aware that a pragmatic approach will give it the benefits of bilateral tours it needs in its current situation, while not signing it will increase the sense of isolation. The PCB is the only full member to have not extended its support as yet to the governance, finance and Future Tour Programme (FTP) changes in the ICC, which were proposed by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) and Cricket Australia (CA) in February.
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 (BCB), 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. SLC and the PCB were the only two to vote against it at that meeting, and SLC extended its support to the revamp 10 days later. The PCB’s previous chairman Zaka Ashraf believed the revamp was against the principle of ‘equality’, and so the PCB, under, Ashraf objected to it.
Current chairman Najam Sethi, though, who has been exchanging the reins of the PCB with Ashraf frequently over the past few months due to legal and political reasons, said it was important to ‘safeguard’ Pakistan’s interests. “I don’t think this is about principles, it is about safeguarding our own self-interests in the long run in world cricket,” Sethi said. “We are the only ones now, left alone (against the revamp). Whomever I have spoken to says they also initially opposed the changes but later went with it because they were gaining a lot by supporting these changes.”
Sethi reportedly met with his Bangladesh and Sri Lanka counterparts, on the sidelines of Asia Cup, in Dhaka. The PCB is keen on negotiating bilateral series with India. “The fact is every country wants to play India because they say it brings them much needed revenues. It is a fact that not playing cricket with India is damaging for us,” Sethi said. Ashraf, however, maintained that the revamp would be unjust to the other members. According to him, the PCB – given Pakistan’s commercial value to world cricket – was offered the chance to side with the ‘Big Three’ and benefit from the original proposals.
“The situation is very tricky,” Ashraf said. “The PCB obviously will be the last country to accept the revamp, but that doesn’t make any difference. The restructuring is still against the basic principle of equality and the ‘Big Three’ will be acting despotically. The (revised) financial model is based on merely theory and a dummy model (by which no full member loses) is shown with a verbal assurance that they won’t let the things slip. They promised that every board would get its fair share according to their commercial value. They also asked us to be the part of the scheme, to make it Big Four, as Pakistan holds a productive commercial value.” “The revamped ICC model is bound to fail in the long run,” Ashraf said. “Their bid is to control things and that is what the whole idea was, but there is no indemnity if the structure collapses. And I am afraid the way cricket is being treated, the structure won’t sustain itself in the long run and in the next three years board members, especially the supporters, will start realising this and things will start splitting.”
Pakistan has not hosted any full member at home since the terrorist attack on the Sri Lanka team bus in Lahore five years ago. Despite that, the PCB has been functioning rather well and that shows ‘the value’ of Pakistan cricket, Ashraf said. Pakistan, in last few years, despite being isolated is still standing tall and the PCB is not in debt as many boards are. No board is ready to help Pakistan at a crucial time to revive cricket in Pakistan. But Pakistan cricket is still going strong. The world knows the value of Pakistan cricket and this is what keeps us going. Despite the isolation, cricket in Pakistan still a profitable product. Currently, Sethi is discussing the matter of the revamp with previous chairmen of the board, including Ashraf, seeking their advice on what he has termed a ‘crisis’. It is understood that all of these former chiefs have suggested Pakistan remain in opposition to the revamp.
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