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Wasim Khan steps down as PCB CEO four months before contract ends

PCB chairman Ramiz Raja has called in the board of directors for a meeting on Wednesday afternoon to take up the matter

Umar Farooq
Umar Farooq
Wasim Khan had begun his stint as PCB CEO in 2019  •  Getty Images

Wasim Khan had begun his stint as PCB CEO in 2019  •  Getty Images

Wasim Khan, the PCB CEO, has resigned from his position four months before the end of his contract, the third big exit since the arrival of Ramiz Raja as the new chairman of the board. Wasim follows the departures earlier this month of head coach Misbah-ul-Haq and bowling coach Waqar Younis, both of whom left after Ramiz's formal appointment.
"When I arrived in 2019, there was a real need to build relationships and restore and enhance the global image and reputation of the PCB and Pakistan cricket," Wasim said in a statement. "With decisive and strategic decision-making, particularly during the Covid-19 pandemic, we succeeded in earning the goodwill and respect of the global cricketing family, which I am hopeful will lead to increased international cricket being hosted in Pakistan in future.
"With a five-year strategy in place, new domestic structure in its third season and the investment in women's cricket in an upward direction, I feel it is the right time to move on and reunite with my young family. They have sacrificed a lot so that I could fulfill my dreams of contributing to Pakistan cricket, which will always remain very close to my heart."
Wasim's departure continues a period of uncertainty for Pakistan, with the new chairman starting to settle down, and the pullouts of New Zealand and England. That has affected Pakistan's on-field preparations for the T20 World Cup; without the New Zealand and England T20Is, Pakistan will have played one out of the 12 games they had scheduled in the run-up to the event.
Wasim had four months left on his current contract, though he had been verbally offered another three-year term by Ramiz's predecessor, Ehsan Mani. He was, however, thought to be undecided about whether he wanted to take that up, primarily because he was unsure how secure his role would be should Mani move on. Ramiz's arrival has brought with it considerable change already, not least in his more hands-on steering of the board than Mani's.
Ramiz has been the more prominent face of the PCB's response to the fallout from the tour cancellations and has held multiple meetings with players of the men's national team, as well as PSL franchises. Wasim is also believed to not have had any input in the appointments of Matthew Hayden and Vernon Philander on to Pakistan's coaching staff - all situations and decisions in which a board CEO would ordinarily play a role.
All this would've been a drastic change to the role Wasim had been in over since early 2019. Though the revamp of Pakistan's domestic cricket was forced upon the board by the Prime Minister Imran Khan, Wasim was tasked with its implementation. He oversaw a difficult dismantling of the previous mix of departmental and regional cricket by implementing the provincial-team model - difficult because, in the shrinking of the player pool, a large number of first-class cricketers were overnight in danger of being bundled out of their careers and livelihood.
But, by revamping the PCB's domestic cricket department and combining it with National Cricket Academies and turning it into a high-performance centre, more roles were created for some of the more established and senior first-class cricketers. Positions were also found for other players in the second XI sides of provincial teams as well as in newly-built city associations.
Wasim was also a key figure in improving Pakistan's status as a venue that is safe and welcoming for touring teams. But for the Covid-19 pandemic, Pakistan would have staged two entire PSLs in the country and under his tenure, there was also the return of Test cricket to the country. It could be argued that the groundwork for these developments was laid by the board administration before Wasim's arrival, but the key move under him was that the PCB was not luring teams to visit by paying them extra money.
Wasim's personal relationship with key figures, especially in England, was instrumental in convincing teams to tour Pakistan. But, with New Zealand and England both pulling out - and with Wasim so closely associated in ensuring that Pakistan visited England in their time of need and in convincing players to undergo especially tough isolation in New Zealand - the fallout is bound to have reflected poorly on the progress he had made.
Though his role was often curtailed by events and factors beyond his control, Wasim was the first CEO to be operating under a new board constitution in which the role actually had some influence. Previously, board chairmen have been all-powerful but under this constitution, the CEO held more say in the day-to-day management of board affairs.
The chairman, as is becoming clear with Ramiz, still holds considerable power, but more at policy level. The chairman, according to the constitution, holds no final say in the selection of national teams for any series or event or has the power of naming a captain and vice-captain, with the CEO overseeing that responsibility and the chairman only allowed the final say, for which the chairman will be briefed by the CEO.
But PCB will not name a replacement - permanent or interim - for Wasim at the moment. His departure is not expected to impact any operational matters and all signs point towards Ramiz, as chairman, taking on more of the role.

Umar Farooq is ESPNcricinfo's Pakistan correspondent