The newly appointed managing director of the PCB – Wasim Khan has displayed his optimism and vision towards improving the foundation of cricket in Pakistan, right from the grass root level.
"I think there are three or four areas on which I will be judged," he said. "The first is restructuring domestic cricket in Pakistan, the second is seeing a return of more high-profile fixtures - particularly international fixtures - to the country and the third is rationalising the headcount at the PCB. Those are some of my main areas of focus."
“We all want to professionalize and improve the game," he says. "I know that with people involved of that caliber, I will have the support to take tough decisions if necessary. I wouldn't have taken the job if I didn't have those people around me. I'm confident we can together improve the perception of the PCB around the world."
Pakistan as a cricketing nation has endured a lot ever since the terror attacks on tthe Sri Lankan players nearly a decade ago, which left eight civilians dead and six members of the Sri Lankan team injured. The havoc eventually lead to other nations backing out from bilateral series’ that were scheduled to take place in Pakistan, even to this date. But Khan believes that a lot has changed over the course of time.
"A lot of the problem is a perception issue," he said. "I think some people expect Lahore to be a dusty and dry city where people live in ruins and there are security issues on a daily basis. It's obviously nothing like that. It has a café culture. It has all the shops and restaurants you would expect to see in any major international city and it has been largely incident free for a while now.
“Yes, there are challenges. But we have seen incidents in London and Paris, too, and few people have suggested we stop playing sport as a consequence."
Wasim Khan is will try persuading Cricket Australia (CA) to play a few games in Pakistan, and is willing to hear them out about what their worries and concerns are, so they could come out with the best possible solution for it, which will also be beneficial for the passionate cricket fans present in Pakistan.
"I need to sit down with other boards and ask them: where are the gaps in our plans that worry you?” he said. "What can we do to assure you? What do we need to persuade you to come back? I want to hear what concerns they have and find a way of meeting them.
"We have international stadiums. We have a great passion for the game. If we can get more foreign players coming to Pakistan more often, hopefully we can normalise playing in the country again.”
Though there hasn’t been much cricketing action in Pakistan, International Cricket has returned to an extent with a World XI and West Indies side participating in a T20I series in recent times. The Pakistan Super League (PSL) has also had a few matches held at home, and is likely to increase in number, as stated by Khan.
"As things stand, there will be eight games in the next PSL played in Pakistan. We hope the number of foreign players coming to Pakistan will gradually increase and they will pass on their positive experiences to their team-mates.”
Another change which Wasim would love to bring to cricket as a whole is by improving relations between PCB and BCCI, whose problems run further deep into the ground than just two cricket governing bodies filing lawsuits at each other. The political influence between the two bordering countires has lead to higher fortification, which Wasim Khan looks to uplift with more and more cricket between India and Pakistan.
"I want to sit down with my counterpart at the BCCI and see if I can improve that relationship," he said. "But the complications go far beyond cricket and will require changes in thinking. I'd like to see Pakistan players welcomed into the IPL, though. That would be a big step."
"My friends noticed that, when I talked about the Pakistan role, I was much more animated and excited," Wasim said. "I knew they were both great opportunities. But the chance to make a positive contribution to Pakistan was overwhelming. It's my passion. It's been my passion for years," Wasim Khan added.
About the Author
Comes from the United Arab Emirates, is a sports junkie and a journalist, who has been following cricket as well as football since childhood. Played cricket in academies, school, and university levels. A fanatic follower of one of Europe's biggest ever football clubs - Manchester United.