Former captain hits out August 17, 2004

'I blame the PCB as much as Rameez' - Asif Iqbal

Wisden Cricinfo staff



Asif Iqbal wonders what made Rameez's passion for the game disappear into thin air © Getty Images

Asif Iqbal, the former Pakistan captain, has lashed out at the Pakistan Cricket Board for its inept handling of Rameez Raja, and feels that it was a situation that was "bound to implode". A few days back, Rameez had resigned as the chief executive officer of the PCB, citing increasing media commitments as the reason for his decision.

Writing in The News about this imbroglio, Asif blamed the PCB as much as Rameez. "If the PCB was professionally handled, which it almost never has been, Rameez would never have been allowed to be in this position," he said. He cited an example of Rameez figuring in an advertisement for the main sponsor of the PCB (Pepsi) while "the pretty showboys of Pakistan cricket, like Shoaib Akhtar, sat and sipped the refreshing drink in the shadow of the pavilion". Asif felt that such instances made for absurd viewing and came close to bringing the PCB into disrepute.

Asif was also critical of the PCB for allowing Rameez to provide his services on an honorary basis. "That an organisation which is earning millions of dollars, hiring foreign experts at exorbitant fees and reportedly paying consultants at the mind-boggling rate of Rs7000 per hour [US$120 approx], has to make do with the services of someone who agrees to handle the most important portfolio in the organisation on a honorary basis is rubbish of the most unadulterated variety.

"The suggestion that the PCB cannot afford one [a professional administrator] is laughable; the suggestion that there was no conflict of interest with the pivotal official of the board being a paid employee of a bank and a television company which directly holds the rights for Pakistan cricket, borders on high comedy; and the results of denying such obvious truths are now before us."

Asif was also puzzled by the sudden change in Rameez's attitude regarding his dual role, both as a chief executive of the PCB and as a TV commentator. "Barely a day before Rameez submitted his 'verbal resignation', Shaharyar Khan had said that Rameez's TV commitments did not hinder the working of the board in any way. A few weeks ago, in the face of almost incessant questioning about his dual role, Rameez had said that cricket was his passion and that is why he never charged the board for his services as CEO.

"What made Rameez's passion for the game disappear into thin air within a matter of weeks? How come he suddenly realised that he could not do justice to both jobs when for years he has denied this very allegation?"

Asif strongly believed that the letter from the Senate Committee, which was handed over to Rameez, had triggered his decision to resign barely 48 hours later. He also commented on the grim situation at the moment and said that, "The PCB's dignity, and the dignity of the office of the CEO has been badly tarnished."