Tuesday Oct 12 2021

What are the challenges PCB Chairman Ramiz Raja faces?

PCB Chairman Ramiz Raja speaks to the press. Photo: File
PCB Chairman Ramiz Raja speaks to the press. Photo: File

Are there some more changes likely in Pakistan cricket? This is a question whose answer nobody knows at this point. One more likely odd change is that Shahnawaz Dhani could be the next beneficiary in the non-stop shuffling of the players for the World Cup T20 squad.

The one-man cosmetic selection committee comprising Mohammad Wasim was surprising for many in recent times as his job has been reduced to a mere spokesman. His role now in selection matters is as important as was his contribution to the national team during his cricketing career wherein 18 Tests he did not even come close to scoring 1,000 runs in aggregate.

Here again, a role given to Wasim is beyond his abilities — a reality that was evident from his messing up the selection matters even before Ramiz Raja took over as the Pakistan Cricket Board's (PCB) chairman. Since Raja's taking up the reins of the PCB, Wasim has virtually become a dummy chief selector. 

Any Test cricketer of a high repute would have resigned the moment his selected team was completely reshaped. It seems Wasim will never resign from the post until he is forced to do that. The reason is very much clear, as he is being paid around Rs1.5 million per month, simply for performing the functions of a spokesperson. 

The team’s selection matters have never been handled professionally in recent times. There has been no relationship between the national team’s selection and performance in domestic events. Premature selections of teams, probable and even the camp trainees have triggered controversies and uncertainties in the recent past.

Only days before the T20 World Cup, we are still not sure as to what would be the final shape of the team. Rated as an aggressive middle-order trio, Khushdil Shah, Azam Khan and Sohaib Maqsood have already been sidelined.

An important question comes to mind here: Why did those, who had the real say in selection matters, make premature decisions about the T20 World Cup squad weeks ahead of the deadline? 

One inning from Shoaib Malik was enough for him to secure his place in the squad. How did an out-of-favour player walk straight into the team? Was the lone inning he played well enough for the selection or does he have any other skill too? None, however, can deny that Shoaib is a seasoned cricketer who has the right knowledge of modern-day cricket.

The PCB chairman was right when he accepted in front of the Senate Standing Committee that Pakistan cricket was suffering from major flaws.

The PCB has never groomed those brains who could help propel genuine talent into the national squad. The country may have 50 top-class players but none have become a real asset. 

Barring Babar Azam and Mohammad Rizwan. who have worked tirelessly to enjoy the success they currently have, no batsman has shown any improvement in recent times.

Pakistan batting depends entirely on the Babar Azam-Rizwan duo, which has managed to bring out the best in the two batsmen. Our coaches have had no role in their grooming. Tt was Babar and Rizwan's responsible attitude that helped them take giant strides in international level.

There have been serious question marks on Pakistan coaches’ ability to help a player mature at the international level. There is a dire need to make a new system for coaches’ evaluation.

For this purpose, Ramiz Raja will have to introduce an innovative concept that should be governed more by the natural ability of the coaches rather than their domestic services. 

One cannot be a jack of all trades. Our coaches can easily switch over to the role of selection and then administration in the blink of an eye but unfortunately, all they require are financial benefits. Chief Selector Mohammad Wasim is the prime example in this regard.

Originally published in The News