The shake up within the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) after the election of Imran Khan as Prime Minister took place with almost with clinical efficiency.
As soon as he was notified as PM, Imran Khan also became the PCB’s Patron-in-Chief. A day into office, and the erstwhile Chairman of the board had tendered his resignation to his new boss saying he wanted to sign off with dignity. Within a few hours, Ehsan Mani was nominated by the Prime Minister to take Najam Sethi’s place on the board of governors and was also nominated to replace him as Chairman of the board.
There had been some outcry for Sethi to stay on as the Chairman, with critics and commentators saying that his tenure had seen Pakistan cricket achieve great heights in difficult circumstances. His efforts to bring international cricket back to Pakistan through the PSL were more successful than any other board Chairman’s since 2009. With such feathers on his cap, replacing Sethi would be seen as a political decision from the new PM.
Whether it was paranoia or Sethi resigning himself to the inevitable, his stepping down made things a lot easier for Imran Khan and the transition in the first couple of days seamless.
While Mani is yet to take the helm as Pakistan’s cricket boss, with Justice (R) Syed Afzal Haider having taken over as Acting Chairman PCB, his ascendance to the top slot in the board as an empowered Chairman is all but confirmed.
But following up on Sethi’s impressive list of achievements will be a task for Mani. What will be an even bigger task will be clearing up some of the murkier dealings of the Sethi era that are still lurking beneath the surface.
Keeping up with the PSL is going to be a task for the new Chairman, especially with the last one spread over Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Lahore and Karachi. What will be an even bigger deal is figuring out why the first season of the tournament is yet to be audited and why all marketing has been outsourced by the board.
Mani will also have to brace himself from the impact that a faltering team can create.While Pakistan is hanging on, it is by the skin of their teeth, and any moment could spell disaster for the men in green. After Champions Trophy glory and the Test mace, that will need serious grit on the part of the new Chairman.
Luckily, Mani does seem to know what he is doing, or at least has the experience to back himself. He is a past Chairman & President of the International Cricket Council 2003-06.
He chaired the ICC Finance Committee (1996-2002) and led in the commercialisation of ICC Events by raising over $2bn from the sale of the ICC media and sponsorship rights between 2000-2007. He represented PCB at the ICC between 1989 and 1996.
It was during his tenure that ICC moved its head office from London to the UAE; women’s cricket was integrated with the men’s game; ICC entered into a partnership with the United Nations to promote awareness of AIDs and HIV through cricket; China was made a member of the ICC; following the Asian Tsunami and the 2005 earthquake in Pakistan, ICC raised over $17 million for emergency relief work; the ICC Global Cricket Academy was set up in Dubai.
He was a member of PILCOM, the organizing committee for the 1996 World Cup held in Pakistan, India and Sri Lanka.
Over the years Ehsan has assisted Pakistan and West Indies cricket boards in the sale of their media rights as well.
With a vast amount of experience as both a manager and in the field of cricket, Ehsan Mani seems to be an apt choice to take over the board during a delicate transition at a juncture in Pakistan cricket where things could go either here or there.