Miandad aims to revive association cricket
Pakistan's domestic cricket is likely to undergo yet more structural changes, with the emphasis moving once again back from regions to departments and private organisations. Javed Miandad, the PCB's director general, has said more private companies and MNCs will be given affiliation by the board to raise first-class teams, in a bid to replicate the domestic formula that Pakistan's national side prospered from in the 70s and 80s.
"MNCs and banks will have an open invitation from the board to raise good teams and take part in our first-class cricket," Miandad told Cricinfo. "They will be encouraged to raise Under-19 teams, put in development schemes and so on."
Pakistan's first-class structure, in recent years, has been centred around regional cricket. The previous two administrations of Shaharyar Khan and Nasim Ashraf were both keen proponents of regional-based cricket and departments and banks, in their scheme of things, were to be slowly sidelined. This is a vision favoured by, among others, Imran Khan.
But others, including Miandad, Rashid Latif and Sarfraz Nawaz, have long argued that given Pakistan's relatively poor economic health, organisations such as Habib Bank and PIA are crucial for cricket, because they offer a livelihood to poor, uneducated but talented cricketers.
This season's structure, Miandad said, will remain the same and the changes will only come after the plan has been vetted and approved by the various stakeholders: as such there is not set timeline for when these changes will occur.
"This is like going back to Abdul Hafeez Kardar's original plan for domestic cricket," Miandad said, referring to the first captain of Pakistan and one of its most influential board heads, who first invited institutions to play domestically in the early 70s. "That vision served Pakistan well and between 1983 and 1996 in particular, when we had this set-up, Pakistan really prospered," Miandad said.
Region-based teams, such as Karachi and Lahore, or Sind and Punjab (in the Pentangular), will not, however, be sidelined completely. Instead, they will be given greater autonomy to run their own affairs, a decentralisation in a sense of the administration of cricket in the country. One charge against previous board administrations has been that they have controlled regional associations far too much and become embroiled in their politics.
"We are saying to regional associations, take control of your cricket and handle your affairs and run it. Karachi, Lahore they should all take more responsibility and run cricket," Miandad said. "Recently, the board has been giving them money - which is fine - but regions have taken it and not done as much with it as possible. These associations need to find players, bring them up from the grassroots and hand them to Pakistan cricket. The PCB will help you but you have to do the work yourself."
The plan, Miandad said, needs time. "We had two set-ups before this which tried regional cricket and it hasn't really worked. We have to look at this and we need time."