Calcutta, April 26: The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) is firm on ensuring that its sport-is-bigger-than-the-players message, conveyed unambiguously immediately after the World Cup, isn’t lost on anybody.
“For us, that’s a priority. In the past, there have been occasions when the PCB was dictated to by some players. Now, that won’t happen,” insisted former captain Rameez Raja, who has just taken over as chief executive.
Speaking to The Telegraph from his Lahore residence, he added: “The biggest problems, after all, arise when the big names begin to believe they are bigger than cricket. It’s a situation which ought never to be encouraged.”
Prompted by the failure to even make the Super Six, in the World Cup, wholesale changes — including the sidelining of Wasim Akram — have already been effected. In time, though, the PCB could have a rethink.
In fact, talking about the seniors, Rameez said: “As Akram has chosen to spend the summer with Hampshire, I’m not sure where he stands (technically) vis-à-vis the PCB. Waqar (Younis) has declared he wishes to continue, so, let’s see…
“Among batsmen, Saeed Anwar must definitely work on his fitness… The door, of course, hasn’t been shut. Inzy (Inzamam-ul Haq), I believe, has two-three years left…”
Reflecting on Pakistan’s (four-nation) Sharjah Cup win, he observed: “We did well, yes, but the victory doesn’t mean too much besides being a good start for the new captain (Rashid Latif) and coach (Javed Miandad)… The real test will be when South Africa arrive later this year — that’s when some experience will be required.
“Indeed, our next engagement (tri-series in Sri Lanka) will also be more demanding. We did beat Sri Lanka in Sharjah, but New Zealand spearhead Shane Bond is a very different proposition.”
According to Rameez, improving domestic cricket and marketing it professionally is also a priority. Having served as development committee chairman, he is familiar with the areas that need immediate attention.
Understandably, Rameez is “very keen” about quickly reviving bilateral ties with India, but would like flexibility from this side.
“All along, we have been willing to take that extra step — including foregoing the chance to stage the Asia Cup — but India’s stand hasn’t changed. It’s this rigidness which has upset the public in Pakistan… Surely, we need a gesture from India,” he pointed out.
[At his first Media conference, Thursday, Rameez indicated the PCB would reconsider its Asia Cup-decision if there was some ‘movement’ from India. Pakistan, it may be recalled, have withdrawn from the August 10-28 tournament, scheduled to be hosted (out of turn) by Sri Lanka.]
Significantly, the newest chief executive won’t be accepting even a token remuneration. “This was a pre-condition and the chairman (Lt General Tauqir Zia) agreed,” Rameez revealed.
Regarded as hot property on the circuit, time permitting, he will continue with TV assignments.
Incidentally, Sri Lanka (Anura Tennekoon) and New Zealand (Martin Snedden) are the other Test-playing nations to have a former International as chief executive.
Rameez, by the way, is the second International — after Majid Khan, also a former captain — to wear the chief executive’s hat in Pakistan.