A schism within the PCB Board of Governors erupted in Quetta today, leading to five BoG members demanding the removal of PCB Managing Director Wasim Khan, and walking out of the meeting, forcing its adjournment. The 53rd meeting of the PCB BoG, notable for being the first to be held in Quetta, was attended by eight of its ten members.
Fve of them - Shahraiz Rokri from Lahore, Noman Butt from Sialkot, Shah Dost from Quetta, Kabir Khan from Fata and KRL's Ayaz Butt - presented a resolution not initially on the agenda of the meeting. It listed six demands they wanted the BoG to adopt, most notably the appointment of Wasim to be declared null and void, terming the position unconstitutional. The resolution also called for the rejection of any move to abolish departments and regions in domestic cricket, and the setting up of a domestic cricket restructuring committee within the next 10 days, comprising all four members of the four regions.
A PCB statement said, "The meeting was then adjourned for a brief period pursuant to five members attempting to table a resolution, which was not part of the agenda. The PCB Chairman had proposed any business other than the agenda could be considered under Any Other Items at the end of the meeting. However, the Khan Research Laboratory (KRL) and the four regional representatives refused to return to complete the meeting."
PCB chairman Ehsan Mani, who, along with Asad Ali Khan and Ex-Officio Akbar Durrani, was the only remaining BoG member present, declared himself "hugely disappointed", warning that Pakistan cricket must not "get derailed by personal agendas".
"I was looking forward to an interactive, productive and constructive discussion, which was aimed at taking Pakistan cricket forward. Yesterday, we called on the honourable Chief Minister of Balochistan and engaged in fruitful and enlightening discussions to promote cricket in Balochistan. It is, therefore, particularly disappointing that the representative from Balochistan also refused to return for the BoG meeting."
The abandonment of the meeting poses a potential broader problem for the PCB. One of the items on the agenda was the approval of audited accounts for 2017-18 to be sent to the ICC, which form the basis of the ICC releasing Pakistan's share of revenue for the year. That, ESPNcricinfo understands, amounts to USD 5 million, and with the failure to approve the release of audited accounts, that funding could be delayed. The threat of a delay isn't acute for now though if divisions linger on, it could become pressing. At least part of that money would be spent on regional cricket associations, some of whom walked out of the meeting.
Board officials expressed frustration at the demand to oust Wasim, whose arrival was seen as something of a coup for the board, particularly since he had been asked by the ECB to apply for a similar position.
In October, the BoG approved the creation of the position of managing director, aimed at separating the positions of chief executive and chairman. Under the current PCB set-up, the chairman is also its chief executive, which was seen as a conflict of interest. However, a separate position for chief executive requires a constitutional amendment, and on that basis, the BoG approved the search for a managing director, who would assume the role of chief executive once the position was created. It was then the PCB began shortlisting candidates for the position, finally settling on Wasim.
The saga has an unmistakeable realpolitik whiff. The current prime minister and patron of the board Imran Khan has been vocal about his intentions to downgrade and, if possible, completely eliminate departments in domestic cricket. It was notable that a guarantee against that was the first item on the proposals the five dissenting members moved. Just three weeks ago, Imran Khan had given short shrift to a new model the PCB proposed that still aimed to retain departments in domestic cricket, insisting they had no role in the game.
Mani and Imran Khan are scheduled to meet later this week to discuss issues related to the infrastructure development of the Pindi cricket stadium, which is owned by the province of Punjab rather than the PCB. With the ground being looked at as a potential venue for the next edition of the PSL, its dereliction was a cause for urgent concern. However, with half the BoG membership rejecting the patron's explicit demands with respect to departmental involvement in the domestic game, it seems hard to believe that will not be a key item of discussion when the pair meet.