PCB chief plans reserve team to globalise game

He's a man in a hurry

Sunil K. Vaidya
He's a man in a hurry. The Pakistan Cricket Board's new chief Mujeebur Rehman Khan is determined to accomplish the task entrusted to him by the country's President and Prime Minister. "I have been asked to make Pakistan the best team in the world," Mujeebur told Gulf News yesterday. He believes the post-World Cup depression is over. "We are on the right track."
The PCB Chairman, in Dubai for the International Cricket Council meeting said the root of the problem was that earlier, officials never supported the players. "The players were on one side and the board on the other," he said. "Luckily, I am of the players' age, I can relate with them, therefore all's smooth sailing now."
"The team is not for the board; the board is for the team," Mujeebur believes. He has tripled the salaries of the players. They are being insured and paid "big bonuses." Mujeebur is unfazed by the criticism in the wake of his single-handed running of the board. "I don't care. I am doing my job sincerely. In a short time I have achieved results."
The PCB has set up cricket academies around the country. Hanif Mohammed is in charge. "Pakistan is full of talent that needs to be channelised; the boys need opportunities and the right environment. These academies will provide that."
At one stage the Pakistan team was divided into two camps, the accusers and the accused. Aamir Sohail and Wasim Akram were on either side of the fence but the two were brought together in Canada by the PCB. "We did it with love and affection, we provided support that they didn't get earlier from the board," said Mujeebur.
He revealed that the PCB had created a reserve Pakistan team comprising the 'fringe' players. "They will be paid by the board, for domestic as well international participation. There will be a coach, and physio too."
The National Stadium in Karachi will become the second floodlit venue, after the Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore. Mujeebur said that the PCB has started a nation wide inter-school tournament. A schools team will tour England. "The English board has agreed to the annual schools tour," he said.
Mujeebur is keen to send the reserve team to Bangladesh and other countries to help in the ICC bid to globalise the game. "The 'big brothers' in the region have not really helped Bangladesh with exchange of tours, but things will change soon," said Mujeebur, who recently took over as the Asian Cricket Council Chairman. He stressed that Bangladesh would get a direct entry into the Asia Cup.
On the PCB's conditions for taking part in CBFS-organised tournaments, Mujeebur said: "I do my homework well." He was referring to the demand to raise guarantee money. He pointed out that the CBFS is supporting PCB's academy.
Mujeebur had suspended skipper Wasim Akram, Salim Malik and Ijaz Ahmed (all three accused of match-fixing) but before Pakistan's first tournament this season, he not only recalled Wasim Akram but made him the captain.
"I first removed Wasim because I wanted to put things in order. Later I realised Wasim had so much cricket in him that Pakistan can only benefit," Mujeebur said. "I have no hang ups. I discuss, I do what's good for the nation's cricket. No one should be penalised for nothing. I needed a good player, a good captain, so I recalled Wasim," he said.

Contributed by The Gulf News (https://www.gulf-news.co.ae/)