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The sudden political developments over the past one month in the country have lead to uncertainity in Ramiz Raja’s office as well. PCB’s chairman: Ramiz Raja is speculated to be replaced with former PCB Chairman Najam Sethi who previously occupied the space in 2017 and is a close ally of the newly elected Prime Minister of Pakistan.
A look at Najam Sethi’s PCB tenure
Sethi, a journalist by profession and a former caretaker chief minister of Punjab joined PCB in 2013 as an interim chairman. He temporarily replaced Zaka Ashraf who took back his position once all allegations were cleared by the court. In 2014 he was formally inducted as one of the members of the Board of Governors (BoG) of the cricket board by the then Prime Minister of Pakistan Nawaz Sharif. The analyst’s final stint in PCB came in the year 2017 when he was unanimously elected as the chairman of the board.
It wasn’t surprising that Najam Sethi’s tenure was characterized by inconsistencies. A person who hadn’t any knowledge of cricket was suddenly governing the sports board and to top it off, being a product of nepotism himself, his rule was marked by his allies and close friends occupying the most important seats in the organization. He gave the board an overhaul that did not go too well in the country’s favour.
Despite all the critique that gets thrown his way, Sethi will always stand out for being the launchpad of Pakistan’s own brand of league cricket. The Pakistan Super League (PSL) was introduced in 2016 by his efforts and it wouldn’t be wrong to say that it completely changed the direction of cricket in Pakistan. It came at a time when Pakistan Cricket was deeply falling into desolation and it provided a new hope not for the game but for the cricket fans in Pakistan.
The former chairman’s efforts to bring cricket back into the country slowly began to give fruit when in 2017 the final of PSL’s second edition was played in Lahore and in the next year even the play-offs made their way back.
Politics in Cricket?
The year 2018 saw the last of Najam Sethi. His five-year tenure was brought to an end when the country elected Imran Khan as the 22nd Prime Minister of Pakistan. It is not a hidden fact that Khan and Sethi were never on the same page, especially after the former accused him of helping his political rival and Najam Sethi’s ally, Nawaz Sharif in rigging the 2013 elections. He resigned immediately after Imran Khan took the oath and was imminent replaced by the well experienced Ehsan Mani who had served the International Cricket Council as the President.
The Possible Return of Sethi
After Ehsan Mani’s tenure ended in 2021, Imran Khan had elected Ramiz Raja, the former cricket and an immaculate commentator as the chairman of PCB. But now with Khan’s ouster as the PM, things have taken a sharp turn. His rivals are back in the game and it is being speculated that their former confederates will be occupying the seats once again which means the journalist will most probably back to his previous job. If history repeats itself, Sethi will have nothing to lose this time.
What does the Future of PCB look like?
Under the current leadership, it wouldn’t be wrong to say that PCB is going on the right track with the recently concluded PSL 7 and the Australia tour that provided non-stop entertainment but generated billions in profit. With Ramiz Raja’s policy of improving cricket at the grassroots level, improving the state of pitches and making PSL bigger and better, the game is only going to grow. Just recently, Raja announced a pathway cricket program that will groom 100 kids from humble backgrounds through international coaches, monthly stipend and free education which will ensure that Pakistan cricket never runs out of quality players.
But a change in the leadership would mean almost none of these things becoming a reality as seen previously. With the new regime already cancelling out the previous government’s developmental projects, there is no guarantee the aforementioned plans will be executed.
Nonetheless, there have been no official announcements regarding a change in the board’s chairmanship despite the many rumours floating around about Raja’s resignation and Najam Sethi’s take over. It is also being said that Ramiz Raja has left the decision up to the new government regarding his fate until which he will continue to occupy the office and engage in routine work.