Former Pakistan captain Ramiz Raja on Monday became the new chairman of the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) after being elected “unanimously and unopposed”, according to a press release issued by the board.
A special meeting of the PCB’s Board of Governors was held at the National High Performance Centre in Lahore to elect the cricketing body’s 36th chairman.
Retired Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed conducted the election and presided over the special meeting.
“I am thankful to all of you for electing me as the PCB chairman and look forward to working with you to ensure Pakistan cricket continues to thrive and grow stronger, both on and off-the-field,” Raja was quoted as telling the other board members in a PCB press release.
“One of my key focuses will be to help introduce in the Pakistan men’s cricket team the same culture, mindset, attitude and approach that once made Pakistan one of the most feared cricket playing nations.
As an organisation, we all need to get behind the national team and provide them the desired assistance and support so that they can produce that brand of cricket, which the fans also expect from them each time they step on to the field of play.
“Obviously, as a former cricketer, my other priority will be to look into the welfare of our past and present cricketers. The game has and will always be about the cricketers and, as such, they deserve more recognition and respect from their parent institution.”
In his inaugural press conference as the PCB chairman in Lahore, Raja heaped praise on former head coach Misbahul Haq and bowling coach Waqar Younis for “working hard with honesty”. The duo had left their jobs abruptly and unceremoniously last week.
The new chairman emphasised and reiterated at multiple points in the press conference that “a complete overhaul” of the system was required on multiple tiers.
“I always thought that if I got the chance [to serve] at this position then I would reset the vision a bit. I think cricket’s compass and direction need to be reset. There are some long term and some short term goals,” he said.
He lamented the state of domestic cricket at club and school levels, vowing to promote both during his tenure.
Regarding the state of the Pakistan cricket team, he said he had held talks with its members and acknowledged that it had “an unpredictable element” that made it more attractive. However, he stressed, that unless there was “a describable model, there will be confusion and there won’t be job clarity so you will keep wandering in the dark”.
“My wishes are that Pakistan suddenly turns on a switch and becomes the world’s most attractive team but until skills are improved [and] techniques are corrected, then wishes will remain wishes,” he warned.
“So we have to talk about aggressively surpassing our challenges by improving our technique and following our DNA. This is the entire story of the Pakistan team and for all lower-level cricket,” he said.
The new chairman also had three major announcements:
- An increase of Rs100,000 in monthly salaries of the 192 contracted first class players
- Signing Matthew Hayden and Vernon Philander as coaches for the Pakistan team for the T20 World Cup
- Planning an U19 T20 World League next year
Raja said an increase in salaries of female cricket players would also be looked at as well.
Raja said he would prefer to avoid the limelight and that ideally “the chairman is projected less and the team and captain are projected more.”
“I want the team to do so well that its performances get highlighted,” he said.
Raja replaces Ehsan Mani, who completed his three-year tenure last month.
Ramiz and Asad Ali Khan were the two nominees of PCB’s patron-in-chief Prime Minister Imran Khan.
When he was in the opposition, PM Imran was against the policy of the PCB chairman being a prime minister’s nominee. However, he nominated Mani as the chairman, and followed the same policy this time round by picking Asad and Ramiz.
Interestingly, Asad was also nominated last time along with Mani.