Pakistan news July 6, 2011

ICC team calls for sweeping changes in Pakistan

ESPNcricinfo staff

The ICC's Pakistan Task Team (PTT) has recommended what amounts to a root and branch reform of the game in Pakistan, including broad changes to the way the board is run and on micro issues such as selection, managerial appointments and even the standard of ball used in Pakistan's domestic cricket.

The PTT presented a 38-page report during the annual conference in Hong Kong last week and listed 63 recommendations that it believes will strengthen cricket in the country. The report has also called, in strong terms, for a resumption of cricket ties with India, recognising it to be a key component of the fabric of Pakistan's cricket.

The PCB said last week it would review the report and get back to the ICC with some "observations" on the recommendations; in some instances, such as the recommendations to reduce the power of the chairman, board officials believe the PTT has gone beyond its remit.

The parameters for the body's work - as the report acknowledges - did expand over time. Initially set up in light of continuing concerns over security in Pakistan (it was constituted in June 2009, having been on the agenda since February that year) it broadened its role after the spot-fixing scandal to take in "integrity issues" as well as matters of governance and administration.

And it is the recommendations on the last that are particularly eye-opening. "Perhaps the strongest of the recommendations, however, relate to the governance structures of Pakistan cricket," the executive summary of the report states. "It is highly unusual that the President of the country is entitled to appoint both the Chairman of the PCB and over half of the Governing Board. It is also inconsistent with the demands of modern sports administration that the Chairman also holds the powers of the CEO.

"The PTT believes there should be a wholesale (internal) review of the PCB's governance structures, including its constitution. While recognising that changes may not happen overnight, the PTT believes that preserving the status quo will constrain the development of Pakistan cricket in the long-term and is not in keeping with international best practice in sports administration."

The report calls for constitutional changes within the board aimed at reducing the power of the chairman and making the role a non-executive one. "The PCB and ICC are currently engaged in a consultative process of constitutional review. It is proposed that this process continues over the next few months, with a view to amending the PCB constitution."

The recommendations - to hold elections and ensure no political interference - are the same as those envisaged in the ICC's recent constitutional amendment on governance for all boards. But it goes further, suggesting a reduction "in the absolute executive powers of the Chairman by creating the post of Chief Executive, who is appointed by the Governing Board." The role of regional associations as an alternative centre of power, should also be increased.

Ten recommendations are made on matters of selection, the report said, noting that "there has been a high level of turnover of selectors in the past five years with five different people serving as chairman of selectors in this short period." The report recommends that the selection committee operate without "outside interference" and also suggests that appointments to the committee should be through a clear process, approved the the board of governors. Most tellingly, it asks that the chairman's right of veto on selection of players be removed altogether.

The role of the team management also comes under scrutiny, the report suggesting a permanent manager to accompany the side rather than a series-by-series appointment as is the case currently. The incumbent, Intikhab Alam, makes in fact regular appearances through the report; the PTT questions the workload of a man who is the national team manager, the chairman of the cricket committee, director game development as well as a governing board member.

Interestingly, the report also notes the growing influence of the board's legal advisor Taffazul Rizvi in cricket matters. No judgment is made, however, on a man who has been closely involved in a number of issues to afflict Pakistan over the last 18 months; "The PCB has very strong reliance on its external legal counsel, Mr Taffazul Rizvi, who is central to all major strategic and management decisions."

The PTT also suggests that the number of centrally contracted players be reduced, though here it is out of date; currently the PCB has 20 players on central contracts and no stipend category anymore, and not the 45 players and 15 receiving a stipend the report states.

It also raises, with little context, the type of balls being used in domestic cricket. "A specific cricket issue raised with the PTT on several occasions was the quality of the balls used in domestic cricket, being an inferior grade to those used at international level. This situation, which prevails for financial reasons, provides an insight into either the financial constraints facing the PCB or inappropriate prioritisation....PCB should prioritise the use of international-standard balls in the top division of its multi-day and one-day men's competitions."

The absence of Indo-Pak cricket, the report said, is hurting the sport. "The absence of the traditional bilateral series between Pakistan and India from the international cricket calendar is denying millions of cricket loving fans across the world from enjoying an iconic series. It is also hurting the sport, particularly in Pakistan and the PTT sees no reason why this great sporting rivalry should not be restored as soon as possible, even if on neutral soil." However, little else is said on how international cricket can be revived in Pakistan, which was one of the main tasks of the PTT.

The recommendations are not believed to be binding on the PCB so they are under no compulsion to implement them. The board will send back observations on the report to the ICC, but what happens beyond that is unclear. Incidentally, Zimbabwe accepted and implemented all recommendations in an earlier ICC task team report on problems in the game there.