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Will the new domestic structure benefit Pakistan cricket?

After some years we will be back to where we started

PHOTO: AFP

When the history of the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) is written, the name of Haroon Rasheed will be written at the start. Just don’t ask in which context. The former Test batsman has this unique quality of influencing any PCB chairman.

This quality makes him a key figure. The new management with the guidance of the Prime Minister Imran Khan raised the slogan of a new domestic system since it took over. Haroon Rasheed worked hand in hand for this slogan.

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Rasheed along with PCB Chairman Ehsan Mani and Managing Director Wasim Khan discussed the details of the new project with the media. The surprising thing is that Rasheed was involved with many key changes in the domestic system in the past and raved about the significance of those as well. Then he would go on to change his own plans.

He is a yes man and people like this say and do whatever they are told. After the details of the new domestic system had been disclosed, the confidence of the officials makes it seem like Pakistan would be number one in the Test rankings in no time. We will soon have batsmen such as Virat Kohli and bowlers like Pat Cummins. However, if we come out from our fantasy world we will find out that nothing of the sort is about to happen.

After some years we will be back to where we started. Then they [PCB] will claim that it is a new system and would take time to show the results. If another government takes over, they will then change the PCB management and system again.

PCB should have refrained from drastic changes by making a two or three year plan of action. The country is currently plagued by many issues. Imran Khan should be focused on them. Why did he rush to get his new domestic system underway? The Quaid-e-Azam trophy is scheduled to start in two weeks and the new system has just been announced.

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Anyone can write a glowing proposal on paper which can promise to solve all problems. It might even seem perfect to read but will fall apart once the implementation starts. The PCB has eradicated all departments; six provincial teams have replaced the 16 departments. The Board has claimed to give out contracts to various players but it would still leave many unemployed.

Every team had a manager, coach and support staff. Where will they go now? If the domestic system was that rotten, than how did Pakistan manage to win major tournaments with this system? You do not need to go too far, Babar Azam and Yasir Shah are both a product of this rotten system. The team also recently won the Champions Trophy. If they had made it into the semi-final of the World Cup would the old system have been thought of as good?

Cricket is a game and every player in Pakistan deserves a chance to play it. But now only a handful of lucky players will get a chance to feature in first class cricket. Departmental players received at least fifty thousand rupees every month. The Board might just pay the same amount to all the players in the new system. The departmental teams have now been eradicated. Do not think that they can be persuaded to return if the new system fails to provide results. PCB does not possess an infinite amount of resources. They can only spend on the domestic system to a limit. The market does not seem to be that broad currently. The Pakistan Super League (PSL) franchises are not getting enough sponsors, what will happen to the provincial teams?

The PCB claims that the matches will be intriguing but will fans show up to witness the action? I do not think this will happen. The marketing department of the Board can’t even find sponsors for the national cricket team; an external company is given this responsibility. Can they now find sponsors for six domestic teams?

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You can push government organisations to sponsor the teams by applying pressure from officials but how can you pressurise the private sector into sponsorships and how long will it last if it does happen? Many PSL franchises do not fulfil their financial obligations, how will they then sponsor teams in the domestic system?

Punjab has two cricket associations while Sindh only has one. Where will the cricketers of Karachi go which has a booming population? I personally think that they have narrowed cricket and not improved it. Now, only a few players from poorer backgrounds can pursue it.

The PCB claims that a culture of favouritism plagued selection matters in the past. Will this not happen in the new system? The cities that had associations will now come under the provincial flagship. Let’s see how the board plans on monitoring them.

Right now even the conduct and decision making of the board is not completely transparent. After the appointment of the MD and Media director, even the names of coaches have come forward without an advertisement. Everything is pre-decided. I might be wrong about our new system and maybe Pakistan’s domestic system will soon become like the ones in England and Australia.

I however feel that this will fail after two or three years and Wasim Khan will pack his bags and leave while Pakistan cricket will be left behind. One can only hope that it all works out in the end.

 

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of Cricket Pakistan.