After “conditionally” agreeing to the ICC revamp, Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chairman Najam Sethi is now hopeful that Test-playing nations, including India, will play Pakistan more frequently. In an interview with The Indian Express Sethi spoke about the future road map for Pakistan cricket. Excerpts:
PCB had initially opposed the ICC revamp. What made you change your stand?
Several factors. Firstly when we opposed it on principle, three other Boards out of the nine were standing with us. The resolutions could not have been taken forward without eight votes. Then we were left alone and our vote had only “moral” value in a world that puts material national worth above international morality. Isolation is not a recipe for growth. Even at this stage, our support is conditional. It depends on signing satisfactory Future Tours Programmes with the core cricket boards, especially India.
Was there any pressure on you from within the PCB to fall in line with the ‘Big Three’?
Do you still rue the fact that despite being a premier cricket nation you were not consulted on the position paper?
I said as much in the first ICC meeting on January 8th. But that’s water under the bridge now.
You said PCB would earn an estimated Rs 30 billion over the next 10 years after agreeing to the revamp. Can you elaborate on this? What would be the sources of revenue?
This is our back-of-the-envelope calculation and will be evident when we auction the FTP broadcasting rights for the next eight years.
PCB doesn’t have a long-term broadcasting partner at the moment. But now that you’ve been assured of playing bilateral series against all top teams, how hopeful are you about striking a deal?
We shall set the process in motion next month and hope to conclude (deals) by end-June latest.
Again, as far as the bilateral series is concerned, is there a written commitment from the other Test-playing nations or just a verbal assurance?
All have agreed in writing. Minor details are being sorted out. Binding agreements are to follow in the next few months.
You said Pakistan would play a bilateral series against India as well. Do you have any assurance from the BCCI in this regard?
Is there any chance that Pakistan would be playing a short bilateral series with India after the IPL?
We would like the BCCI to squeeze three T20s sometime this year in UAE. But we have been advised that their schedule is very tight.
When is the earliest that Indo-Pak cricket can resume?
If all goes as planned, Pakistan will host India next year.
In Pakistan or at a neutral venue?
In the UAE or at a mutually acceptable venue.
Did you also have discussions with the BCCI over the participation of the Pakistan players in the IPL?
Yes. But there is no commitment from BCCI as yet.
After the general election in India a new government will be formed. Do you expect a rethink as far as India-Pakistan cricket is concerned?
We are hoping for the better in the national interest of both countries. There is no better peace initiative than cricket diplomacy.
The Pakistan team has been very inconsistent of late. Why is there a shortfall of quality talent?
We need to change the structure of domestic cricket in line with best international practices. I hope to do that this year.
Will the team witness an overhaul of the coaching staff before the ‘15 WC?
Who will be in charge then?
A couple of candidates in mind. We will announce it in the next few days.
Controversies have rocked Pakistan cricket. What initiatives have you taken to eradicate corruption?
The PCB has been grossly mismanaged over the years as though it were the sitting chairman’s fiefdom. No more. I am changing the constitution and the rules of governance to make the board both more democratic and more accountable.
Pakistan still can’t play their home matches on home soil. How is it affecting Pakistan cricket in terms of fan-following and revenue?
Naturally, home ground and home crowds matter in so many critical ways for both players and viewers. But the fans are patiently waiting for local security conditions to improve so that foreign teams can play in Pakistan.
When can Pakistan start playing their home matches on home soil?
Sooner than later.