Ramiz Raja is out.
Najam Sethi is again in charge of the Pakistan Cricket Board.
Monkeys are flying and the Brontosaurus is roaming earth again. Or so the anti-Najam Sethi camp would have you believe.
People put in charge of certain positions should have some level of expertise in the mentioned field, and cricket should be no different. Ideally, It should be ex-cricketers or if not then, then at least people who have some sort of administrative experience in the sport.
Ramiz Raja ticks all possible boxes. Ex cricketer, world cup winner, even captain for a period, and then Pakistan’s best-known export to the world of English cricket commentary.
Najam Sethi on the other hand has never played first-class let alone international cricket. There is no record of him as a player, in any capacity whatsoever. His field for the last many decades has been journalism, and he is one of Pakistan’s most experienced political analysts.
Both Ramiz Raja and Najam Sethi have exchanged barbs ever since the former was let go from his position as PCB chairman, but this hardly comes as a surprise. Legal battles with likely ensue, with a further war of words from both sides the only guarantee.
Both of them obviously come with different political leanings. Ramiz Raja is as pro-Imran Khan and PTI as they come. Najam Sethi, as much as he may deny it, has his sympathies squarely in the PML-N and Nawaz Sharif camp.
I personally liked Ramiz Raja’s time at the helm. The Pakistan Junior League was a great initiative. The men’s team reached the finals of the Asia and T20 world cup, with a strong semi-final showing in the previous T20 world cup. Our players also won the ICC T20 player of the year, ODI player of the year, and Men’s player of the year awards, all with Ramiz Raja around, although it can be argued that he only took over towards the end of the year when they won these awards.
Najam Sethi’s time, was equally good, if not better. He played a key role in initiating the return of international cricket to Pakistan after almost a decade in isolation. Furthermore, he played a role in the appointment of Sarfaraz Ahmed and Mickey Arthur as captain and coach respectively, which won the team the 2017 champions trophy. Last, but certainly not least, Najam Sethi was instrumental in the initial days of PSL. First in setting it up, and then ensuring that the final takes place in Pakistan.
Both sides claim credit for a lot and also blame the other one for a lot too. In the middle of all this finger-pointing and mud-slinging, there lies Cricket.
There is no denying that Pakistan’s test results off late, have been nothing short of shambolic. That too at home, where the team is expected to come out as winners. The white ball side of things has been functioning well, however, any cricketing purist will rightly point out that test cricket is where it is at. Najam Sethi has fixed problems in Pakistani cricket before, and the ones fixed back then, were arguably bigger. The current set of players is arguably among the most exciting we have seen in a long time and all they are missing is likely some fine-tuning and a more aggressive approach.
The need of the hour is not wholesale changes and certainly not fixing what isn’t broken. But more importantly, the bigger need is for Najam Sethi and Ramiz Raja to put their egos aside and focus on cricket, not personal ambitions. There is an ODI world cup scheduled for 2023 along with the Asia Cup and a crucial series away to Australia. It would be a tragedy if this current set of players don’t win major trophies and only end up wallowing in the what-could-have-been.