Recently ousted Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chairman Ramiz Raja on Monday slammed what he called “political interference” by amending the cricket board’s constitution to accommodate himself incumbent chairman Najam Sethi and “his thugs”.
On December 21, in a major top-level change in Pakistan cricket administration, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif nominated a 14-member management committee headed by Sethi to run the PCB affairs till the elections are held within the next four months.
In a video shared today to his Youtube channel in which he responded to questions from the public, Raja said there should be “no involvement of politics in cricket”.
He said it was a game for cricketers and was their playing field, adding that people from outside should not be brought in who “come and attack and think the work you are doing is not right”.
“You changed the entire [PCB] Constitution to bring in one person, Najam Sethi, and to adjust him. I’ve never seen this anywhere else in the world.”
He said there was a way to such processes and lamented that the change — along with the change of the chief selector — was done in the middle of the cricketing season when teams were coming to play.
“You bid farewell to people with respect. He (Sethi) was tweeting at 2:15 am that Ramiz Raja is out and people should congratulate him.”
Raja said he was a Test cricketer and it was his playing field. “So you are hurt because it seems as if a messiah has come who will take cricket to great heights, although, we know that their motives are different,” the former PCB chief added.
“This notion is not even present that they’ve come for the development and advancement of cricket. They’ve come for lordship and they enjoy getting the limelight somehow.
“Nothing to do with cricket and they’ve never picked up a bat and then they’re appointed as the chairman,” Raja said.
He pointed out that he was given the PCB chairman’s charge for three years but was “sidelined” after a mere 12 months because of “political interference and a political appointment”.
“Our cricket will be destroyed this way because when there is no continuity and people are brought in like this through backdoor [means] then what will be your level?”
He said such appointments created pressure on the entire cricketing structure from top to bottom.
“Only in Pakistan, this can happen that you change the constitution to adjust a person or to bring in his thugs.”
Raja said he will raise the issue of political interference in sports at international forums as well. “Is this a joke with our cricket?” he concluded, adding that “people are angry about this.”
Meanwhile, Sethi said during a media talk today on a question about Raja’s continued commentary: “Ramiz Raja will not be stopped at all. I have great respect for him. I realize what pressure he was under.”
Sethi said that if Raja was selected for commentary then the PCB will “not oppose it at any stage — no sir we will not”.
The Sethi-headed committee includes Shakil Sheikh (ex-PCB BoG), Gul Zada (ex-PCB BoG) Nauman Butt (ex-PCB BoG), ex-Test cricketers Haroon Rashid, Shahid Khan Afridi, and Shafqat Rana, Sana Mir (ex-Pakistan women team’s captain), Aized Syed (ex-PCB director NHPC), Tanvir Ahmed (ex-president Larkana Region), Advocate Supreme Court Mustafa Ramday and Chaudhry Arif Saeed (CEO Service Industries).
One of the members of the new management committee, requesting anonymity, had said this committee had been formed in light of the PCB’s Constitution of 2014.
“This [management] committee will work till the elections of PCB Board of Governors and Chairman which will be held within 120 days,” the said member had said.
“Now, after a formal approval from the Federal Cabinet anytime soon as a summary has been moved for getting [this] approval through circulation, the PCB Constitution of 2019 will be formally repealed and the Constitution of 2014 will be formally revived.”
The 2019 Constitution was approved by former prime minister Imran Khan.
This committee will manage PCB affairs with full executive powers with the aim of effecting the restoration of departmental cricket structure and allied matters, including the nomination of the Board of Governors and the election of chairman, as stipulated in the 2014 Constitution, within 120 days.
According to sources, there were strong chances that after repealing the Constitution of 2019, Sethi would formally take charge as PCB chairman after the completion of relevant legal formalities.