2:48 AM ETGeorge DobellSenior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo FacebookTwitterFacebook MessengerPinterestEmailprint
Wasim Khan has emerged as a strong candidate for the new role of Managing Director of the PCB.
Wasim, currently chief executive at Leicestershire County Cricket Club, was invited to consider the position by PCB chairman, Ehsan Mani. He is understood to have made a very favourable impression during interviews in recent days with a possibility that he could be confirmed in the role by the end of the week.
Wasim had also been asked to apply for the role of Managing Director – England Cricket by the ECB management, but it is understood he has expressed a preference for the Pakistan job.
Although Wasim is British-born – he is believed to have been the first British-born Muslim player of Pakistan origin to play county cricket – he has long held a Pakistan passport. If his appointment is confirmed – and parties are in the final stages of discussing terms – he is expected to move, with his wife and children, to Lahore.
While his current county role is relatively low profile, Wasim has long been seen as a key figure in the future of England cricket. A former player – he was part of the Warwickshire squad that won the double in 1995 – he went on to become CEO of the Cricket Foundation where he played a huge role in the expansion of Chance to Shine. He has also sat on the Equality & Human Rights Commission Sports Group, The Prince’s Trust Cricket Group, the board of Sport England and was recently named in the Parliamentary Review Muslim 100 Power List. In an English system desperate to find a way to connect with its Asian communities, he has long been seen as a future CEO of the ECB.
A Pakistan role will bring a vastly different set of challenges. Among the high-priority items on his to-do list are likely to be a reorganisation of the domestic system, and this will be an especially thorny issue. Imran Khan, former captain and now the country’s prime minister – and by default, the cricket board’s patron – has long been a strong advocate of a domestic structure based on regional sides alone.
That stance is likely to be taken up in some form at board level – Mani is known to believe that a purely regional model might not work in Pakistan, where the population is far bigger than countries such as Australia (whose small domestic Shield structure Imran is a fan of).
Early indications suggest a structure with eight regional teams, either city-based or province-based. That could have implications for the departmental sides – such as HBL, WAPDA, PIA and SSGC – who have, for over 40 years, been the backbone of the domestic circuit. It is these banks and airlines and gas companies that employ cricketers on monthly salaries, and these organisations – and not the regional sides – who have long been at the forefront of the game’s professionalisation.
Repeated moves to remove or sideline them have been strongly resisted by players, and administrators and will face similar obstacles if it happens again, but the idea presently under consideration is to make departments sponsor regional teams and to reduce teams in the domestic circuit by up to 30% in the name of quality. One of the board’s aims will be to make regions financially self sufficient and run without PCB funding. Presently, the PCB spends over PKR 600 million per year on domestic cricket. There are currently 16 teams on the domestic circuit playing in the Quaid e Azam trophy, with eight regional and eight department teams.
Wasim is also expected to work on an exchange or initiative system to help Pakistan players develop their game by representing county and state teams as overseas players. He may also be expected to reduce the headcount at the PCB – some estimates suggest they currently employ in the region of 900 people across the country (albeit, the vast majority of these will be contract-based jobs in stadiums the PCB owns across the country, with a much smaller list of permanent staff employed at headquarters in Gaddafi Stadium, Lahore).
Inevitably, he will also be charged with bringing regular international cricket back to Pakistan. While that will not be easy he will hope his excellent relationship with ECB officials will help to that end. As a long-time supporter of the PCA (the Professional Cricketer’s’ Association; the players’ union in England and Wales) he may also look to introduce a players’ union for Pakistan cricketers. Given how often that has been attempted – without success – and the often disputatious nature of players with the board, this will be no mean feat either.
Ultimately, whoever gets the role – and Wasim is a clear favourite at this stage – it seems it may be changed to a CEO position once the PCB Board pass constitutional changes to Mani’s role, which has him currently as chairman and CEO.