A new cricketing committee will be given wide-ranging powers to oversee the state of all aspects of Pakistan cricket. It will be chaired by Mohsin Khan, and includes among its members Wasim Akram, Misbah-ul-Haq and Urooj Mumtaz. Three other former cricketers - Mudassar Nazar, Zakir Khan and Haroon Rasheed - will provide functional and administrative assistance to the committee as it carries out its work.
The committee, while not allocated any decision-making power, has been handed a wide remit and will meet thrice in a year. PCB chairman Ehsan Mani went so far as to say there was "nothing that happens in Pakistan cricket that this committee cannot look at". Subhan Ahmed, the board's chief operating officer, said the committee will evaluate and make recommendations on the state of pitches and balls used in domestic cricket. Further duties include overseeing grade-level and women's cricket and meeting with the head coach at least three times a year to "assess their performance and understand what their plans and goals are and guide the PCB in these aspects". It will also oversee the performance of the national selectors and national coaches.
A key power invested in the committee will be the authority to appoint members to the selection committee, but Ahmed insisted it wouldn't be allowed to interfere in day-to-day selection matters. "The selection committee will continue to function independently from this cricket committee. They have separate roles to perform. The cricket committee has been given a remit to independently oversee various aspects."
Mohsin promised that the committee would function "without any favouritism". "I would like to thank chairman Mani for the opportunity," he said. "The chairman told me he wanted to form a committee that included some of the best cricketers in Pakistan's history, and you can see that in the presence of Wasim, Misbah and Urooj Mumtaz. We will all work together on issues ranging from domestic cricket to international cricket, be it about selection, captain or coaches. We will make all our decisions on merit, without any favouritism. That is my goal, and I'm glad the chairman has given me such a fine team to work with."
Wasim Akram also thanked Mani, and said the main idea was to find the best way to help Pakistan cricket. "People have often asked me why I haven't got involved in coaching, especially with my experience of the past 8-10 years. But it's about finding the best way to improve Pakistan cricket, which involves improving the first-class structure. It won't happen overnight, but with the experience of all of us, we can make a difference."
Urooj Mumtaz, the only female cricketer on the panel, said she was honoured Mani had "considered her worthy" of the appointment. "I can easily say I've been there from the inception of women's cricket in Pakistan," she said. "I feel I have a lot to offer, with how much women's cricket I've played and watched. I've been the captain and a selector for the team at various times. We can make significant improvements to women's cricket because there's a great scope for improvement in that department. We want to become a force to be reckoned with, and the upcoming women's World T20 - the first standalone women's World T20 - signifies it's time for us to leave our mark on the game."
The most recently retired player to be part of the committee, Misbah-ul-Haq, who is still active in the domestic circuit, said he felt he understood the problems facing domestic cricket. "It's a good opportunity for all of us to share our ideas and make suggestions to the board. There's a great need for improvement."
Misbah had shared video footage of squalid dressing rooms at the LCCA ground in Lahore during the first round of the Quaid-e-Azam trophy this year, sparking nation-wide criticism. It triggered a wider conversation about the need to invest in the first-class game, for which Misbah has been an ardent spokesman for several years.
"The first-class cricketers are the only ones we have that will go on to represent Pakistan at international level. So we need to provide them with the requisite facilities and make domestic cricket competitive, otherwise you can never improve the standard of cricket in your country.
"That I am still playing enables me to get a first-hand account of the current problems facing first-class cricketers. This speeds up the implementation process, because you don't need to ask anyone else about the realities on the ground. We want to have a significantly improved domestic system by the time the next Quaid-e-Azam trophy season rolls around."
It was telling most of the talk about the functioning of the committee concerned first-class cricket, the plight of which has begun to receive increasing attention over the past few years. It may be suggestive of the area most of the committee's attention will be devoted to. The problems range anywhere from substandard pitches and the wrong types of balls used to poorly thought-out schedules that see the Quaid-e-Azam trophy pushed to the margins of the cricketing season in Pakistan. This year, the tournament began on September 1 in searing heat, the earliest it has begun since 1969.
As ever with Pakistan cricket, there are motifs of a power struggle in the background. Exactly what the committee will discuss with the head coach - who they must meet at least three times a year - is not yet clear, but what is obvious is some bridges will have to be built if those discussions are to be productive. Just last week, the committee's chair Mohsin Khan was contemptuously withering in his assessment of head coach Mickey Arthur, calling him a "stupid donkey". Whether he can offer more constructive advice than that, or indeed whether Arthur and his coaches are willing to take it on board, will be fascinating subplots to watch out for over the coming months.