Former Pakistan captain and 1992 World Cup winner Ramiz Raja was elected unanimously and unopposed as the Pakistan Cricket Board’s 36th Chairman for a three-year term in a Special Meeting presided over by the PCB Election Commissioner Justice (retd) Sheikh Azmat Saeed.
Ramiz Raja, along with Asad Ali Khan, was nominated by the PCB Patron, Prime Minister Imran Khan, on the PCB Board of Governors on 27 August for a three-year term, where they joined Aasim Wajid Jawad, Alia Zafar, Arif Saeed, Javed Kureishi (all independent members) and Wasim Khan (PCB Chief Executive).
Raja is Pakistan’s 18th Test and 12th ODI captain and played 255 international matches in which he scored 8,674 runs in the period from 1984 to 1997. He has previously served the PCB as its Chief Executive from 2003-2004, has represented Pakistan on the ICC Chief Executives’ Committee, and presently sits on the MCC World Cricket Committee. He has been a successful broadcaster with the world’s leading cricket networks and is widely regarded as the voice of Pakistan cricket.
Addressing the BoG following his election, Mr Ramiz Raja said: “I am thankful to all of you for electing me as the PCB Chairman and look forward to working with you to ensure Pakistan cricket continues to thrive and grow stronger, both on and off-the-field.
“One of my key focuses will be to help introduce in the Pakistan men’s cricket team the same culture, mindset, attitude, and approach that once made Pakistan one of the most feared cricket playing nations. As an organization, we all need to get behind the national team and provide them the desired assistance and support so that they can produce that brand of cricket, which the fans also expect from them each time they step onto the field of play.
"Obviously, as a former cricketer, my other priority will be to look into the welfare of our past and present cricketers. The game has and will always be about the cricketers and, as such, they deserve more recognition and respect from their parent institution.”
Raja added that resumption of bilateral assignments with India is "impossible right now" and he is "not in a hurry" for it either as his focus is solely on his country's domestic circuit at this point.
The 59-year-old, who formally took over on Monday after being elected unanimously, also acknowledged that being chairman of the PCB is one of the toughest jobs in cricket. "It is a very big challenge and a lot of boxes had to be ticked before the prime minister (Imran Khan) decided to give me this tough job," he said in a press conference.
India-Pakistan bilateral series impossible now
Asked about the possibility of revival of bilateral series between Pakistan and India, Raja said, "Impossible right now..."
"...because the sporting model has been spoiled by politics and right now it is a status quo and we are not in a hurry on this issue because we have to focus on our domestic and local cricket," he added.
He also expressed his displeasure over the development that there would be no Decision Review System in the upcoming Pakistan-New Zealand white-ball series in Rawalpindi and Lahore. "Yes there is no doubt that this DRS issue reflects a mess and I will look into this matter," he said.
Raja expressed his reservations over the standard of coaching in the country and said there was a dire need to improve the local infrastructure in the country. When asked whether he would allow the board CEO, Wasim Khan, to carry on, Raja made it clear that he would not discuss internal matters of the body in public.
However, he claimed that if it came down to proper accountability 90 percent of the functionaries deserved to be sacked from the board. Raja was also asked about the India-Pakistan match in the coming T20 World Cup in Dubai. The game is due on October 24.
"It is a show stopper and when I met with the Pakistan team players I told them I want the tables to be turned this time and the team must be 100 percent operational for the match and to do well in it," he said.
The new PCB Chairman also said that he wants the national team to play fearless cricket. "We must be prepared to face problems and also lose matches but I have told the players they shouldn't worry about being secure about their places in the team and play fearless cricket.
"I know we will face more failures than success when we go on this path but we have to do it if we are to become relevant in world cricket. Because this is a process and we need to change the mindset of our players as well.
Pay rise for players
The PCB said the new chairman ordering a pay rise for players in all categories means those in the lowest D category will see an increase of around 250 percent in their monthly retainers. "It is our duty to care for our cricketers and continue to take measures which strengthen our system," Ramiz said.
"This will also play a role in ending any uncertainty surrounding the current cricket structure; the welfare of present and former cricketers is paramount to me."
The new chairman also said that the board would soon launch a Under-19 T20 league to strengthen the age-group structure and ensure that young cricketers are fully equipped for the modern-day game.
Ramiz also promised a big improvement in the quality of pitches in domestic cricket, insisting that bowlers have to work hard to get wickets and batsmen are given conditions where they can make big scores.
Raja is Pakistan's 18th Test and 12th ODI captain and played 255 international matches in which he scored 8,674 runs in the period from 1984 to 1997.
He has previously served the PCB as its Chief Executive from 2003-2004 and has represented Pakistan on the ICC Chief Executives' Committee and presently sits on the MCC World Cricket Committee. After retirement, he has been a successful broadcaster.
Raja is only the fourth former Pakistan international cricketer to head the PCB after Abdul Hafeez Kardar (1972-1977), Javed Burki (1994-1995), and Ijaz Butt (2008-2011).
(With inputs from PTI)