Earlier in July, Najam Sethi was shortlisted among the two nominees for the Pakistan Cricket Board’s Board of Governors (BoG), along with Arif Ejaz. The BoGs’ three-year tenure would end in August and along with the current chairman Shaharyar Khan it would end its term. This would mean that replacements would be due.
Sethi is already on the BoG and his tenure looks set to be extended by three years till August 2020. Meanwhile, Arif Ejaz would replace Shaharyar Khan on the board.
The BoG was reduced from 14 to 10 members three years ago. Four of these come from regional associations, four from services organisations and two are directly appointed by the patrol – the Prime Minister of Pakistan.
However, the approval for the two directly appointed members to the BoG, Sethi and Ejaz, had come from the then Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who has since been disqualified and will be replaced.
On paper there shouldn’t be too many changes in the PCB setup since Nawaz’s replacement would likely continue the policies already in place, on all fronts, but the question has indeed sprung up as to who would be the PCB chairman after Shaharyar Khan.
Following Nawaz’s disqualification, Sethi’s nomination as a member of the BoG has been challenged in the Islamabad High Court (IHC). But Sethi has said in a press conference that “the current political unrest in the country would not affect the elections of cricket board.”
He added: “There is no legal obstacle in my way to become the chief, and I will keep on doing my work despite criticism.”
With Sethi’s appointment set to go through in an office that has been heavily politicised, the transformation in local politics would continue to engulf the national cricket team as well.
In the recent past, Sethi has been held responsible for the failures of cricket team, without being given any credit for the successes.
In the last 12 months alone, Pakistan have witnessed two major triumphs in the shape of the ICC Test mace and the Champions Trophy in June.
Between the two was the successful second season of the Pakistan Super League, which culminated in the final in Lahore against all odds.
Sethi, the chairman of the PSL, deserves a lot of credit for the organisation of the tournament and making it a household name and an international brand, while at the same time ensuring that the T20 franchise league helps bring international cricket back to Pakistan as well.
PSL’s role isn’t limited to the boundless entertainment it provided, or indeed take baby steps towards the return of international cricket, which could see a World XI tour the country in September. The group of players that helped lay the foundation of Pakistan’s win were PSL graduates as well.
Hasan Ali, Pakistan’s bowler of the tournament, and Fakhar Zaman, the team’s best batsman are both PSL’s finds, along with Shadab Khan.
Therefore, the contributions that the PSL is already making to Pakistan cricket in little over 15 months is evident both on and off the field.
Of course, just like it’s unfair to blame Sethi for all of the cricket team’s ills, one wouldn’t give all the credit to one man either.
But with the players that actually do the business being the most important, those at the back hold a significant role as well.
In this regard, Pakistan cricket clearly is moving forward in terms of results on the field and the scope of international teams touring the country.
With Pakistan cricket typically traversing a sinusoidal trajectory in recent years, the recent successes have meant that Najam Sethi has never been in a stronger position for the PCB helm.