Najam Sethi named PCB's interim chairman
Najam Sethi, a senior journalist and former caretaker chief minister of Punjab, has been named the interim chairman of the PCB by the government of Pakistan. Zaka Ashraf, who was elected as chairman in the first week of May, was suspended from the post by the Islamabad High Court on May 28 due to questions raised over legality of the election.
"I have been asked by the prime minister [Nawaz Sharif] to fill in, in the PCB role, for an interim period," Sethi told reporters in Lahore. "My immediate task will be to cover the ICC meeting and facilitate the selection committee for the selection of the squad for the West Indies tour."
The Islamabad High Court had later upheld Ashraf's suspension and ordered the Pakistan inter-provincial coordination committee to name an interim chairman to represent the board at the ICC's annual general meeting in England, which is scheduled for June 25 to 29.
Sethi will take over as chairman with immediate effect - from Monday. He will leave for London, for the ICC meeting, on Tuesday with PCB COO Subhan Ahmed. Regarding the meeting, Sethi said: "I understand a lot of work has been done already and I only have to facilitate and follow up on the recommendations on various pending issues."
The Pakistan board was facing a minor crisis following the court's ruling, as the PCB constitution allows its chairman near-absolute powers, making it almost a one-man show. Under the PCB constitution, the board chairman is also the chief executive officer and every major decision needs his approval. Chief among the board's issues, was the selection of Pakistan's squad for the upcoming tour of the West Indies; squads require the chairman's approval.
"My job is to resolve all the problems of the cricket board in a transparent manner, and then whatever the issues are will be sorted out amicably with the court," Sethi said. "We've heard there are problems of indiscipline, corruption … but we don't know what it is like inside [the board]. We will try to make a strong team and boost their morale."
Ashraf was elected under the new PCB constitution that replaced the system of appointing the PCB chairman by the patron of the board, the president of Pakistan. It was the first election of a PCB chairman, but the process was conducted without any prior announcement, the board revealing Ashraf's appointment through a press release.
Ashraf was one of two candidates - the other being former Lahore Stock Exchange chairman Aftab Ahmad Khan - recommended by the patron and then interviewed by the nomination committee. The committee then unanimously recommended Ashraf for the chairman's post, before the board of governors unanimously endorsed him.
As per the new constitution, the board of governors was restructured to include ten members - five regional representatives on the basis of rotation, and five representatives of service organisations and departments - with voting rights. Of the ten, PCB was able to appoint nine, all of whom voted in favour of Ashraf's nomination. However, there was no representation from Punjab, Pakistan's largest province with 60% of country's population, while two new regions without any first-class team - Larkana and Dera Murad Jamali - were represented on the board.
Umar Farooq is ESPNcricinfo's Pakistan correspondent. He tweets here