Never compromise on integrity, avoid tainted people, Shaharyar advises successor

LAHORE: Pakistan Cricket Board’s outgoing chairman Shah­aryar Mohammad Khan on Saturday said his advice for the next chairman will be to keep the ‘ship’ steady, not to compromise on integrity in his decisions and steer clear of tainted people.

Shaharyar completed his three-year tenure as PCB chief on Aug 4 but will continue ceremonially till the handing over of charge to the next chairman on Aug 9.

Speaking to Dawn in an exclusive interview here on Saturday, he said: “Though no name for the next chairman has been announced as yet, I would like to advise my successor to keep the ship steady and not comprise on integrity at any cost. People will criticise you over selection and so many other things, but take every decision based on integrity and not pick any tainted person.

“I sacked a few such people working in different departments at the PCB, including in the marketing division, who compromised on integrity and they are obviously angry with me. But money is not bigger than integrity and even if you earn less by keeping your integrity intact, it will surely pay you later,” said Shaharyar.

About his three-year tenure as chairman PCB, Shaharyar said there were failures as well as successes during the period.

“The biggest failure for me is to not restore the bilateral series between Pakistan and India. In my last tenure [2004-2006], I had succeeded in restoring it and we played thrice with our neighbours,” he recalled. “I did my best this time too and also faced a lot of criticism for it as critics termed it ‘begging’. But it was not begging, we were just trying to force the BCCI to fulfil the commitment it had made with us through the MoUs signed with Najam Sethi in 2014.

“In my last tenure, I still remember how friendly the cricketers of both the countries were. The Indian cricketers were quite happy over visiting Pakistan and players like (Rahul) Dravid, (Javagal) Srinath, (Anil) Kumble and Harbhajhan Singh had made good friends with many Pakistan players,” he said.

Commenting on the successes in his tenure, Shaharyar said: “For me the biggest success in my current tenure is that Pakistan became No.1 team in Test cricket, though it retained the title for little time, and winning the ICC Champions Trophy in England last month. Besides that, the successful holding of the Pakistan Super League (PSL) and its final in Lahore were also the prominent achievements for which the credit goes to Sethi.

“The end of the Big Three formula in the ICC is also a significant feat, for which Shashank Manohar [ICC head] as well as the boards of England and Australia deserve alot of credit ” he said. “Both the PSL and end of the Big Three have substantially increased PCB’s income as the financial position of the Board is quite stable now and there is no fear of bankruptcy,” he said.

“The first audit of the PSL has been completed and second one is in the progress and we are hoping for more profits as compared to the first one. The way the sixth team of Sultan Multan is sold out was much encouraging and all credit to Sethi as he did hard work very dynamically and solved every problem and I have all appreciation for him as well as BoGs has for him,” he said.

“We are also expecting to host the ICC World XI in the month of September, and are waiting for a security clearance from the Punjab government. I hope the visit of the ICC XI will play a big role in ending international cricket drought in Pakistan,” he added.

When reminded that in his previous tenure, he had quickly removed celebrated cricketer Javed Miandad as head coach to bring in Bob Woolmer but gave Waqar Younis a longer run this time and only removed him when he bitterly failed in the two World Cups (in 2015 and 2016), Shaharyar said: “Waqar was a good coach but he was not too successful with limited-overs cricket. And his relations with some important players were also not good. I will not name anyone, but they were uncomfortable with each other.

“After the disastrous results in the two World Cups, the public pressure mounted on PCB and with the consultation of BoGs we decided to hire Mickey Arthur and the decision paid off.

“I have had detailed conversations with the players and they highly regard Arthur as coach although he is a strict man. Arthur also has great belief in the skills of his team management like trainer Grant Luden, batting coach Grant Flower and bowling coach Azhar Mahmood,” he said.

Asked if the decision to bring in Inzamam-ul-Haq as chief selector was a difficult one since he had dubbed Inzamam ‘a disaster for Pakistan cricket’ in the past, Shaharyar denied holding any grudges against the burly batsman but clarified what he had written in his book about Inzamam was based on the player’s decision to boycott the Oval Test proceedings in 2006.

“The decision of bringing in Inzamam as chief selector has definitely paid off,” he said. “Inzamam knows his cricket and his attitude is excellent. The appointment of Mudassar Nazar as NCA head also proved a good one since he is a visionary cricketer who introduced Under-13 cricket,” Shaharyar said.

“I think it was Inzamam’s deep insight into cricketing affairs that he chose pacer Mohammad Abbas for the West Indies tour and then judiciously selected Rumman Raees for the ICC Champions Trophy which proved instrumental for Pakistan in the crucial victory in the semi-final against England,” admitted the chairman.

On a question regarding the PCB not holding befitting farewells for legendary players like Misbah-ul-Haq, Younis Khan and all-rounder Shahid Afridi after their retirements from international cricket, Shaharyar said he had definite plans to honour them during an international match in Pakistan and added that it is very much in the pipeline. “Hopefully, the next PCB chairman will hold a reception for them in near future,” he said.

“They all have big contributions in Pakistan cricket and Misbah has a lion’s share of it. He was passionate, never panicking or losing his cool and he always carried himself in a dignified manner which also reflected in the Pakistan team as no major controversy happened during his tenure as captain,” said Shaharyar. “We toured New Zealand, England and Australia under Misbah and though we lost matches, all the cricket boards appreciated the attitude and discipline of the Pakistan team,” he disclosed.

“Misbah has a big role in giving stability and dignity to the Pakistan team. Younis, too, was a very dynamic man and his big quality was that he always helped junior and senior players. Afridi is a star player and may be a double-star. His relations with me were also good. Yes the end of Afridi’s career was not on a happy note because of his below-par performances, both as bowler and as batsman but he served the nation well,” he observed.

To a question, Shaharyar said Sarfraz Ahmed was appointed captain for all three formats because he had a great cricketing mind and not just because he had won the ICC Champions Trophy. “We observed him closely and found him to be a man of crisis and good captain which he had proved in the PSL too, leading Quetta Gladiators well,” said Shaharyar.

“His colleagues have great respect for him. Arthur (head coach) had already told me that Sarfraz has a fantastic cricketing brain and same were the views of Inzamam and many others. I sincerely hope making him captain for all formats will prove to be a correct decision,” he said.

When quizzed about the fixing menace still infesting Pakistan cricket, Shaharyar said: “No, match-fixing is almost impossible to happen these days but yes, it is hard to curb spot-fixing. The bookies have many sources as now they have involved Nasir Jamshed for spot-fixing in the PSL. Hopefully, the PCB tribunal will announce exemplary punishment to all the players found guilty of fixing in the PSL.”

Asked to comment on the new experience of having a powerful executive committee headed by Sethi, Shaharyar said it was a good one.

“Due to the powerful executive committee, we took many decisions after healthy discussion and on most of the occasions both [Shaharyar and Sethi] were on one page. And when we differed, we sat down to settle the issues amicably,” he said.

Queried about PCB’s not too good relations with three South Asian countries — India, Bangladesh and Afghanistan, Shaharyar said: “It is true but the main reasons behind it is related to politics and not cricket.”

To a question, Shaharyar said that despite making efforts he could not arrange any new neutral venue for Pakistan to play their international matches other than UAE which is proving to be very expensive indeed.

About women’s cricket, the outgoing chairman said it failed to give results and admitted that bringing in Sabih Azhar as head coach in place of Kabir Khan just two months before the start of the Women’s World Cup was a wrong decision. He advised the next PCB chairman to bring quick changes in the women’s cricket set-up.

Shaharyar further said the ICC would soon affiliate the bio-mechanics lab of the PCB as everything is in place now.

“Our bio-mechanics lab in Pakistan has better facilities compared to the other six labs in the cricketing world,” he said.

Published in Dawn, August 6th, 2017

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