Besides statements, what else the current set-up in the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) has done so far in their tenure, spread over a year to date? Does PCB plan something before making statements? The current situation reads the same old script.
The revival of international cricket was important in the country but the foundation was laid by former PCB chairman. Ehsan Mani, Wasim Khan, and the team have just followed those footsteps to bring in more international events in the country. Playing cricket at home is a positive sign but what about other matters?
The decision to shrink domestic cricket backfired on the PCB as they lacked proper planning regarding how to manage the things in order to maintain balance. They instantly decided to close departments without framing a back-up plan for those cricketers, officials who were thrown out. Nobody cared, how difficult it became for talented cricketers to support their families by doing odd jobs?
Apart from that, the PCB made just statements for making the infrastructure better but the results remained naught. The story tells the same situation as it was in the past, with no development at a lower level to generate ample opportunities for budding cricketers.
In an interview with ARY Sports during Pakistan-Sri Lanka second Test at National Stadium Karachi (NSK), Pakistan’s former Test cricketer and current renowned commentator Ramiz Raja revealed that Lahore, a city of over 12.5 million population, has only four grounds at club level where players can wear spikes.
“There is a need to revamp club cricket too along with the revival of international cricket, domestic cricket, and other stuff,” Ramiz said. “I came to know that Lahore has only four grounds where cricketers at club level can play wearing spikes. I don’t know about Karachi, but the situation in Islamabad and Rawalpindi is also the same,” the cricketer-turned-commentator added.
In this regard, when this correspondent, contacted officials at the club/interschool level in Karachi, one of the biggest hubs of producing cricketers for Pakistan, comes to know about the worsening situation in the metropolis.
The former joint-secretary of the Karachi City Cricket Association (KCCA) told ARY Sports that since August 2019, no cricket activity has taken place in the city at a lower level. “There is no cricket since August this year so how can we talk about infrastructure. The situation is getting worse but no one is there to listen to the problems of young cricketers,” he said.
The former KCCA official added that the PCB has revamped the domestic structure without any proper planning which links towards managing the game at lower tier in different cities.
“The PCB stated to convert Zones into city cricket association but so far nothing happened. We have asked them often since August to at least deploy an interim governing body to keep things going but I think nothing is going to happen even in the next few months,” the official spoke on condition of anonymity.
The former Test cricketer Javed Miandad bashed the authorities for handling matters just for the sake of personal interests. “School and club level cricket is the basics. You can’t groom players without it. I know the situation here in Karachi, in fact in other cities too where there is no proper infrastructure to facilitate emerging cricketers,” Miandad said.
The legendary batsman advised the PCB for taking measures as soon as possible to make the situation possible to nurture young talent. “The PCB should contact different schools, colleges, and universities to conduct several cricket tournaments at various levels. Such things are need of the hour, without it nothing is possible to be changed,” he concluded.
On the other hand, plenty of grounds in Karachi have been turned into trash spots where once cricket was played. Lack of maintenance and concentration lead to such worsening conditions in the city.
A renowned cricket organizer and coach addressed this issue and appealed to the PCB to take steps as soon as possible. “I have been conducting cricket tournaments for years now but such a situation is a barrier in conducting cricket activities fluently. The condition has become worse and if still, no one gets attention over here, the condition can get more alarming,” he said.
Still, things can be controlled if the PCB looks beyond personal interests. Only reviving cricket won’t be enough to get rid of other problems, cricket infrastructre at lower-tier awaits PCB’s attention.