KARACHI/LAHORE: Sensing stress and anxiety among his subordinates at the Pakistan Cricket Board headquarters in Lahore, chairman Ramiz Raja gathered them in a meeting on Wednesday and assured them that he is staying and work shall be continued as planned.
The assurance was needed amid speculations regarding Ramiz’s future at the helm following Shehbaz Sharif’s election as prime minister — automatically making him PCB’s patron — after his predecessor Imran Khan was ousted from office via a no-confidence vote.
“If he’s so assured, it must mean he has support from someone who has the power to appoint or remove him has communicated something,” a source close to the matter told Dawn.
However, sources in the government have told Dawn that the a list of candidates aspiring for the role is lying on Shehbaz’s desk at the Prime Minister Office and that Ramiz may quit anytime.
In the PCB’s constitution, the patron has no power to oust the chairman. However, in many decisions of the honourable courts of Pakistan, it has been declared that a person who has the power to appoint anyone also has the powers to withdraw their names.
Therefore, Shehbaz may withdraw the nominations of both Ramiz and Asad Ali Khan — another board member nominated by Imran — if they don’t step down voluntarily.
Shehbaz is most likely to bring back former PCB chief Najam Sethi, who was at the board’s helm when the now premier’s brother Nawaz was the head of government. Sethi resigned when Imran took office after the 2018 general elections.
During Sethi’s tenure, the PCB successfully launched the Pakistan Super League and the national team won their maiden Champions Trophy in 2017.
Sources said a good number of candidates are lobbying for the coveted post and among them some former cricketers are also included.
Traditionally, a change of prime minister is followed by the election of a new PCB chairman, a position for which
the country’s premiers have always handpicked their favoured individuals.
Imran did the same when he took charge back in 2018, nominating former International Cricket Council president Ehsan Mani for the post.
After Mani’s three-year term, Imran brought in Ramiz, who was unanimously elected as the PCB chief in September last year.
Ramiz, since he assumed the charge, has shown no hesitation in expressing his ambitions for Pakistan cricket.
While the idea of a four-nation tournament — involving Pakistan, India, England and Australia — that he floated at the ICC board meeting earlier this, looks like one closest to his heart, he has been working on creating what he calls “properties” to attract investors towards Pakistan cricket.
Two of such properties are PSL-style tournaments for Under-19 players and women, scheduled to be held in October and February respectively.
Ramiz has also been vocal about the revamping of pitches across the country, some kind of work on which has started.
While there are fears all these projects can be potentially dumped if a new PCB chairman comes in, there’s also hope within some members of the cricketing fraternity that the resignation of an Imran-appointed chief will result in the reintroduction of departmental teams in domestic cricket.
The system was revamped in 2019, following the passing of a new PCB constitution, which saw the role of departments go virtually irrelevant and six provincial cricket associations teams introduced.
“Bringing back departmental cricket will be a task that will take some time, and clearly cricket is not a priority of the new government,” a source close to the matter told Dawn.