Ramiz Raja vows to 'reset Pakistan cricket's compass' after becoming PCB chairman

He didn't give any indication about the futures of captain Babar Azam and CEO Wasim Khan

Umar Farooq
Umar Farooq
Ramiz Raja speaks at a press conference after being unveiled as the new PCB chairman  •  PCB

Ramiz Raja speaks at a press conference after being unveiled as the new PCB chairman  •  PCB

On his first day in office, newly elected PCB chairman Ramiz Raja pledged to "reset the direction" of Pakistan cricket, hinting at an overhaul of the mindset of Pakistan cricket across the board.
He was elected unopposed as chairman earlier today, becoming the fourth former Test cricketer to hold the position. After meeting with officials at the PCB, Ramiz made his first media appearance as chairman, an hour-long press conference at the Bob Woolmer indoor complex at the High Performance centre in Lahore. He met Moin Khan and Aaqib Javed, thanking them for attending, before launching into an impassioned speech about his desire to see Pakistan cricket back at the top table.
He made frequent references to Pakistan's now legendary 1992 World Cup campaign, one in which both he and Imran Khan, the man who appointed him, played a part. Ever since his nomination, he has been actively working alongside the board, deeply involved in every aspect of the PCB's affairs, and he touched upon several themes during his media address.
"Cricket is my constituency, it's my subject," said Ramiz. "My vision is clear cut, I had been thinking that whenever I get an opportunity I will reset it. The compass needs to be reset. There are long-term goals and a few short-term goals, but whatever those are, one thing is pretty simple; the cricket board's performance is related to the team's performance. It goes all the way down to the age-group cricket. The infrastructure below, and the work at grassroots level is a reflection on the team performance. There is a need to work on several tiers, and on every tier the direction needs to be reset.
"When I say resetting the direction, it means coaching has to be revisited too. Our coaching isn't effectively targeted. If today I need three wristspinners and four openers, we won't have such options available right now. We have a very big population and yet you are not seeing outstanding talent emerge, which means we are making mistakes that we have to mend. It's really important to work on the coaching aspect and age-group cricket. Our club and school cricket is nonexistent so we need massive improvements there."
A notable theme of Ramiz's press conference was his reluctance to throw his weight behind current Pakistan captain Babar Azam, or even the PCB CEO Wasim Khan. He instead pointed out that he hadn't even had the chance to know Babar well enough to take a call on his future.
"It's too early for me to assess him. It's important for me to know him better," said Ramiz. "It's similarly important for me to understand the role. You (as captain) tend to make many demands, some good but others which you need to make a persuasive case for. I did a couple of sessions with him and told him that if you don't have 400 autograph hunters outside the academy then the whole objective to play cricket has failed. I want a leadership like the one I played under in my era. My expectations for Babar are the same as I had with Imran Khan."
He also refused to be drawn on Wasim Khan's future. "The matter of the PCB Chief Executive Wasim Khan is an internal matter of PCB. I will not disclose what decision will be taken regarding extension of tenure of PCB CEO."
Over the last three years, the PCB has also remodelled the domestic circuit, reducing the number of teams from 16 to six, and getting rid of departments altogether. Presently, all six associations have nominated board members. Ramiz emphasised the goal was to make them self-sufficient and revive club and school cricket. He said he had no wish to change the model implemented on the wishes of Imran Khan with six domestic teams, but wanted to focus instead on increasing the quality of each of those sides.
He also increased the monthly salaries of each of the 192 first-class cricketers in the system by PRK 100,000 (approximately USD 600).
"There is uncertainty among first-class cricketers in the new system," Ramiz said. "Whether it's how long they will be playing, for how long they will be paid, what they need to get improve and how their performances will be evaluated. I have spoken with the Pakistan team and have discussed the model. We clearly know that Pakistan cricket has a fearless and aggressive approach in our DNA. We are unpredictable, hence, we are watchable as well because on a given day we can do anything. I have countless wishes for Pakistan cricket but all of them will remain wishes until we don't work on our technique and skills."

Umar Farooq is ESPNcricinfo's Pakistan correspondent