Jul 23, 2020
Ehsan Mani, the PCB chairman, believes inviting foreign players would make country’s domestic structure more robust and competitive. While it’s still unclear if a new ruling is being worked out, there are existing provisions to invite and register guest players with teams in the circuit.
While financial viability has been seen as a hindrance for teams when it comes to signing overseas talent, there have been a few exceptions over the years. In 2011-12, 14 Afghanistan players featured for Afghan Cheetahs in the Faysal T20 Cup. Yamin Ahmadzai, the Afghanistan fast bowler, played five first-class games in Pakistan in 2016-17. Zimbabwe allrounder Sikandar Raza played in the National T20 Cup that same season.
“One of the things we are going to do with our first-class cricket is to encourage one or two overseas players to come and play,” Mani said in a podcast produced by Bridget Osborne and James Willcocks at The Chiswick Calendar. “It is great for our players to be playing with the international players and that’s not going to happen overnight. We are working to take our first-class cricket to a complete different level and have it so competitive and so attractive for overseas players that they wish to be part of it.”
Over the last few years, the PCB have made hosting matches in Pakistan a priority. In the last one year alone, they’ve hosted a PSL season at four venues and two Test sides – Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. An MCC team also toured the country for the first time in 47 years.
“The big stumbling block was a travel advisory,” Mani explained of the challenges they faced earlier. “When you get schools and you get parents looking at that, they get nervous. Now that that’s been dealt with, it’s definitely something certainly that we’ve been we’ve been looking at seriously. Wasim Khan, our chief executive who was with Leicestershire county, has been already in discussion with a couple of counties to see whether they will come. I think people contact is what is so important.
“The MCC has been absolutely brilliant, very supportive of cricket in Pakistan, We’re also very fortunate that we have in Pakistan a high commissioner,Christian Turner, who was Theresa May’s national security adviser. So he understands the dynamics of the country. He understands Pakistan. And he’s been very important, in fact, pivotal in getting the travel advisories to Pakistan changed. And that that has made a big difference.”
Last year, Pakistan overhauled their domestic system and introduced a five-category grade-based system of monthly retainers, apart from the match fees for all 192 players. They also abolished departmental format and brought in just the six provincial teams to streamline the structure.
Presently, there are over 700 staff who are directly employed or contracted by the PCB in different capacities. However, the domestic restructure has meant over 300 players are out of jobs. Mani felt the key was to decentralise power and multiply opportunities for every association,
“As soon as the cricket associations are functional, a lot of these people would be delegated to those six cricket associations,” he said. “These are people like ground staff, curators, coaches, school trainers, people who go to school to give basic coaching. People like that are all on PCB payroll at the moment.
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“And I’m pushing them down into the cricket associations with the clear instructions. There’s a lot of talk about people losing jobs. I’ve worked out that with the six cricket associations. They’re playing cricket with 3000 clubs. We are going to create more jobs for the former players. It’ll take time.
It has started to happen overnight, but in a structured way, you’d want to make sure that every city has coaches for their schools. The city associations themselves will have coaches, coaching staff and everything from training young kids on how to behave on anti-corruption issues and understanding what the game of cricket is about.”
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