Possibilities include Ehsan Mani getting a year’s extension and Ramiz Raja taking charge full-time
Imran Khan, the prime minister of Pakistan – and the PCB’s patron-in-chief – is set to make the decision that will lead to either Ramiz Raja taking over as the next board chairman or Ehsan Mani continuing for second, shorter term.
Khan met his former team-mate Raja, now a prominent broadcaster, on Monday, having identified him as one probable candidate to take over from the incumbent Mani. Mani’s tenure is due to end on August 25, but he could also be given an extension, possibly for a year instead of the usual three years. In either case, it is not a direct appointment as such: Khan will nominate two names (in this case likely to be Mani and Raja) to the PCB’s board of governors, who will then elect the chairman.
Former Pakistan captain Khan had initially reached out to Raja, also a former PCB chief executive, to give him names of potential candidates, in line with his apparent preference for an ex-cricketer to be at the helm. But, in the absence of other obvious candidate, he is believed to have told Raja to consider himself for the post.
“I did meet with the PM and presented him with a roadmap for how Pakistan cricket can go forward,” Raja shared with ESPNcricinfo. “It was a cricket-centric discussion on the problems Pakistan cricket is facing and what possible steps can be taken to improve the overall performance. I am glad he called me up and heard me out. He is concerned about the state of cricket overall and is open to discussion.
“Pakistan has been extremely inconsistent and, let’s be fair, that the ranking in each format reflects that Pakistan cannot make it into the final of tournaments. The only chance they have is to play the semi-final in T20 format while considering the ODI and Test format it’s hard for them to go past the pool stage. So I have updated him on things on the cricketing front. We had a productive meeting and it is now his call on how to proceed.”
Mani met Khan earlier in the day, and though he is not keen on the idea of another three-year tenure, it is believed he wants to stay on potentially for another year in order to complete plans and projects. Lead among those would be to take the long-standing negotiations with PSL franchises on a new financial model for the league to a conclusion.
The PSL’s commercial and broadcast rights cycle is also due for renewal and will need careful steering through, with the added complication of an arbitration process with the previous rights holders Blitz that the board is involved in. A number of PSL franchises, however, feel that continuity is essential for the advance of the league and they worry a change at the top will disrupt the proceedings.
On the international front, Mani is thought to be keen to cement the return of cricket to Pakistan by bidding for multiple ICC events in the next tournament cycle, as sole hosts and co-hosts. Though the return of international cricket to Pakistan had begun under the previous administration, Mani and his CEO Wasim Khan have built on those gains with full international home seasons for the first time in a decade. One-and-a-half of the last two PSL seasons have been played in Pakistan (the half season this year was relocated to the UAE because of the Covid-19 pandemic).
New Zealand and England are scheduled to tour later this year, for the first time in nearly 18 and 15 years respectively; early next year, as part of the same home season, Australia are due to visit for the first time in what will be 23 years.
Though there is no indication on when a decision would be taken, Khan is expected to put forward his two nominations by August 25. After that, the board of governors will hold a vote to pick the chairman.
With inputs from Osman Samiuddin
Umar Farooq is ESPNcricinfo’s Pakistan correspondent