Pakistan news June 24, 2013

Sethi aims to sort out PCB crisis

The PCB's interim chairman Najam Sethi has outlined an ambitious plan of action, including trying to get the ICC to reconsider the ban on Mohammad Amir. His short-term target, he said, would be to sort out the internal dissensions that have riven the board.

Sethi will leave for London on Wednesday to attend the ICC's annual conference from June 25 to 29.

"He (Amir) is a talented cricketer," Sethi told a press conference in Lahore. "I will request the ICC that since as he has served two and a half years of his ban, and was also jailed, to reduce his ban."

Sethi took office today and was briefed about the crisis in the PCB surrounding the suspension of Zaka Ashraf as chairman, which was affecting the team's tour of the West Indies in July, and causing delays in the annual budget. He met the selection committee and was also briefed on the financial status of the board.

"I need some time to understand the problems," Sethi said. "It was my first meeting (with the selectors) and have told them that there will be no interference from my side in selection. But, I will definitely ask questions. If my questions are hard, they have to think about it. Meanwhile, they have been given the task of selecting the ODI and T20 teams for the West Indies tour."

The PCB has been under crisis over the last month when five top regional associations - Lahore, Karachi, Multan, Faisalabad and Sialkot - revolted against Ashraf, alleging a fallacious electoral process. The five associations were dismissed by the PCB and not included in the board of governors. However, there was no representation in the board of governors from Punjab, Pakistan's largest province with 60% of country's population. The PCB instead tagged four regions - Larkana, Dera Murad Jamali, Peshawar and Islamabad in the board. The fifth was supposed to be Sialkot (part of Punjab), but since the region was disputed, it wasn't included in the board.

The dispute deepened when a writ petition was filed against the PCB's new constitution and the process of electing the chairman. The Islamabad High Court, in its first hearing, suspended Ashraf's incumbency and ordered an acting chairman to follow the PCB's day to day functioning.

"I need some time to understand the problems but the court did not suspend the constitution at all so things can move on," he said. "I am an acting chairman, and my responsibility is to resolve the problems, conduct fair and transparent elections."

Ashraf's top priority was to revive international cricket in Pakistan. However, Sethi said the chances of a revival are unrealistic unless the security situation improves in the country. "It is the matter of the national security establishment to enhance the security, but given the situation in the country, it is difficult. If terrorism continues in Pakistan, no matter how many speeches I make abroad…only if our house is in order will guests come."

Following Pakistan's poor showing in the Champions Trophy, Sethi promised accountability over any failings of the national team. Pakistan was the first team to exit the tournament after losing all three group games, to West Indies, South Africa and India.

"Although I was in charge when the team was selected for the Champions Trophy, I have asked for the report. I want to stress that in future, the captain, coach, vice-captain and the selection committee will be held accountable in case the team fails in any event."

Umar Farooq is ESPNcricinfo's Pakistan correspondent. He tweets here