Even after a successful PSL there seems to be no hope that six associations will be set up and grassroots cricket can be made operational
Last year when Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) announced a new domestic structure based on Prime Minister Imran Khan’s vision of six regional teams there were claims that this three-layered system will bring professionalism while strengthening the domestic and grassroots level cricket. Departmental cricket was abolished, which left hundreds of cricketers jobless.
While announcing the details of the new structure CEO PCB Wasim Khan stated that PCB organises even the club competitions which are the responsibility of city and provincial associations.
The PCB also claimed that they will form six associations which will possess proper organisational structure, will be financially autonomous and will act as legal entities working within their jurisdictions. Wasim also said that for the first time there will be city and provincial associations organising club, inter- and intra-city cricket and looking after all the internal affairs of cricket in Pakistan.
In my opinion it seems like that the finances remain a huge barrier as tens of millions of rupees would be required to set up the associations and organise club competitions. Even after a great PSL there seems to be no hope that six associations will be set up and grassroots cricket can be made operational.
Informed sources say that PCB is asking departments to sponsor cricket. Why will they sponsor cricket when PCB has thrown out their teams from domestic competitions. Private companies will also not be ready to sponsor cricket unless their demands were met.
The cricket committee meeting led by Iqbal Qasim in February ordered the Director Domestic Cricket Haroon Rasheed to find a window in which a specific tournament for the departments can be organized. According to sources, the tournament might be held in July and August.
Sources further say that if PCB failed to arrange the sponsorships it would be forced to bear the expenses of the city and provincial associations as well grassroots cricket. But for how long can it do so? It can be argued that COVID-19 has halted all the activities. But if the YOYO tests of domestic cricketers can be taken and online conference of national coaches can be organized, the work regarding city and provincial associations can be also be done and all the details related to club cricket can be given.
It’s been almost a year since club competitions were halted. Sadly, the cricketers of under-13 to under-19 levels do not have any platform to prove their skills.
Regional stakeholders say that PCB must understand that the system it has devised requires a strong club structure and no constitution has been given for club cricket.
No doubt that PCB CEO Wasim Khan has taken some positive steps in order to make PCB professional. Among those steps is the exclusion of incompetent officials like Haroon Rasheed, Subhan Ahmed, and Agha Zahid. Bringing international cricket and the entire PSL to Pakistan are also great successes.
But PCB must understand the ongoing situation through which the city associations and the budding players are passing. It should at least give the green signal to city cricket associations so they can arrange club competitions for the youngsters.
It may be noted that in the press conference during Pakistan-Sri Lanka series in December, Wasim said that in two to three months they will officially announce the sponsorship for the associations but it’s been more than four months since then and no such announcement has been made.