Najam Sethi: Who needs cricketing knowledge to head the PCB?

Published: June 27, 2013

A very capable and seasoned pair of hands was needed to steer the ship back into steady waters. PHOTO: AFP

It seems that the trend of political interference in the selection of the head of the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) continues with Najam Sethi’s appointment by the current government, despite the ICC’s continued efforts to put an end to it.

The ICC knows it’s futile to expect anything else, but it has to go through the motions and fulfil the formalities, much like parents when going out and leaving their kids unsupervised implore them not to stay up and watch TV too late.

After the disastrous performance by the players in the Champions Trophy, there was more scrutiny on the PCB than ever before.

With a deteriorating infrastructure that was failing to produce quality cricketing talent, mired in controversies and allegations of nepotism and sexual misconduct, a very capable and seasoned pair of hands was needed to steer the ship back into steady waters.

And that is why the current government went with Najam Sethi, a senior journalist with no prior experience in cricketing matters whatsoever.

Obviously this news was met with bewilderment by the uninitiated, confused as to how and why such a decision was made. Even our journalists seemed to be at a loss for words.

Others seemed to imply that something more nefarious in nature might be going on.

Leave it to some people to try to stir the pot on every occasion. Couldn’t it just be possible that Najam Sethi is trying to boost his CV for a dream job he has been coveting?

Whatever the case may be, in taking up the sought-after position of (Interim) PCB Chief, soon after his tenure as Caretaker Chief Minister, Najam Sethi has shown that formal qualifications and substantial work experience in a related capacity are completely unnecessary for high level positions.

The haters need to cut Sethi some slack. What he might lack in competency or experience can be made up by enthusiasm.

As Hansel, in his immortal words in the film Zoolander says,

“I care desperately about what I do. Do I know what product I’m selling? No. Do I know what I’m doing today? No. But I’m here, and I’m gonna give it my best shot.”

News about his lack of cricketing knowledge has also been largely overblown.

After all, like he explained at the press conference, he watched cricket religiously when Imran Khan was playing, and he also used to play as an opening batsman when he was in school.

And he proved he had tremendous insight into the game through his editorials in The Friday Times. An alleged copy of one of them, dated March 5, 1992, is doing the rounds on the internet, in which he lambasts Imran Khan for trying to keep in the limelight to raise funds for his hospital and playing only for himself, which Najam Sethi muses, will lead to the downfall of the team in the 1992 world cup. He also argued that Imran Khan had no place in the team as a bowler.

Of course, Pakistan went on to win the World Cup. Simpletons might laugh at Najam Sethi, but those that know better know that it was Sethi’s advice that motivated Imran Khan to lead the team to victory.

Besides, I ask you, with a team that is criticised for fielding players for their name value or connections rather than based on merit, who better to fix that culture than Najam Sethi?

After he is done saving the PCB for a grateful nation, here are five other voids that he can fill. While it might seem that he isn’t remotely qualified for any of these slots, we should brush that aside as mere semantics.

–          Najam Sethi can go on tour with Led Zeppelin as their new vocalist.

–          Najam Sethi can replace Christian Bale in the reboot of the Batman series.

–          Najam Sethi can be appointed as Chief of Police (I’m sure he has also played cops and robbers when he was a kid.)

–          Najam Sethi can become Interim Afghanistan prime minister.

–          Najam Sethi can become the first Pakistani astronaut on the moon.

What are other jobs that you think Najam Sethi can be appointed to carry out?

Read more by Mani here or follow him on Twitter @BallerinaAngry

Mani Khawaja

Mani Khawaja

A journalist and musician with an MBA from the University of Sunderland. He tweets @manikhawaja88 (

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Noman Ansari

    Also, Najam Sethi can go watch the film Ghalib, so that at least one Pakistani can answer the eternal question and say, “Haan yaar, meh nay Ghalib film dekh lee. Theek thee.” Recommend

  • Pernia

    Interesting read.The end bullet points made my day!Recommend

  • Noman Ansari

    Loved your blog btw. Hilarious.

    Najam Sethi can become the first
    Pakistani astronaut on the moon.

    With his own gravitational pull, that would be problematic. Recommend

  • aaaaa

    This is just another i-love-pti article pretending to be about something else. Two of your tweets are from PTI ppl and one is from Mubashir Luqman. Then there’s yourself, a pti fan boy, justifying everything they do, no matter what it is. You’d have to be quite desperate to have to involve Luqman to prove your point. Did you already forget his ‘interview’ with Malik Riaz? His credibility is less than zero. You’re not helping your cause by publishing his tweets.

    I neither support nor oppose Sethi’s appointment in the PCB. But first of all, its interim. That means he’s holding the fort until they get a proper person to replace him, like Majid Khan. And second of all, the job of the CEO/PM/Chairman/whatever is delegation. Appoint the right people to the right places and let them do their job. Which is precisely what Sethi did as caretaker CM Punjab. He’s not going to be conducting any training sessions, you know what i mean? You don’t need to be a genius to figure it out. Now ofcourse, you (and luqman) would rather live in your own imagined world where its pti vs the rest of the world, and your poor old pti would have definitely swept the election if there was zero rigging. Actually i take that back, Luqman is only interested in who pays him the highest, and if it happens to be Pasha Tehreek e insaaf then so be it.

    ET has been regularly criticized for bashing IK at every opportunity. Perhaps thats why they publish your love letters to PTI. Can’t think of any other reason.Recommend

  • http://Morocco Ahmad Hashmi

    Najem Sethis can be the next Nawaz Sharif, both are NS by the way.Recommend

  • @aaaaa

    Delusional much? There is no way anyone can justify Sethi’s appointment, pro pti or anti pti. Have all the managers died in Pakistan that a journalist without an iota of cricket knowledge had to be appointed to the post?Recommend

  • http://kolkata antanu

    pakis are good at hypocricy.Recommend

  • Asjad

    Well one thing is for sure Inzimam will not become the coach and the team will not be seen observing prayers infront of the world…Plus my point is NOT Najam Sethi or Zaka Asharaf…its the process..why a government change translate into change in PCB…Recommend

  • Najam sethi

    Well, let me tell you an aapas ki baat , this is a fruit of my friendship with * Zardari*Recommend

  • @Najam Sethi

    Sir, would love to see you as Batman, although realistically more suited towards playing Penguin :DRecommend

  • aaaaa

    @ @aaaaa:

    I never justified his appointment. In fact i specifically stated that i am indifferent to it. You should read/learn to read before making assumptions with no basis in reality.

    Would you consider Javed Miandad as experienced in cricket? He is currently Director General PCB. Pakistan’s latest (non)performance was losing every match in the Champions Trophy. Meanwhile, hes out buying a new car costing 5 million rupees.. Such wonders the experienced Miandad is pulling off no?Recommend

  • @aaaaa

    And who appointed Miandad for that role? Another political appointee.Recommend

  • Assam

    He could sing eyes to eyes soon :DRecommend

  • Muneeb

    Hold on guys…..would u also be surprised if you see me (muneeb aka munna) as skipper of the cricket team?Recommend

  • salman

    Najam Sethi can become PS to Maryam Nawaz..Recommend

  • Randomstranger


    “pakis are good at hypocricy”

    ET moderators, may I ask how his comment got approved when you have a history of rejecting my perfectly valid comments?

    P.S: Oh, and it’s “hypocrisy” and not “hypocricy”. Perhaps the “straightforward” Indians didn’t teach you any respect or proper human speech.Recommend

  • Aamer

    Its a diabolical appointment. Najam Sethi has no knowledge of the game and no understanding of intricate cricketing issues. Recommend

  • Savail

    We need to understand that cricket boards are corporate entities and in most civilized countries are headed by management professionals i.e. Corporate Chief Executives. The current CEOs for instance of enterprises including England and Australia are not professional cricketers. NS runs a chain of book stores in a few cities, and a weekly paper, The Friday Times and has served on several corporate boards. I am sure and I hope that he is will do a stellar job.Recommend

  • Shakir Lakhani

    He was originally going to be made our ambassador to the U.S. I strongly advise him to go back to writing and appearing on Geo as a news analyst, at which he’s very good. Recommend

  • mmanna888

    Name Nationality Term
    1. Lord Cowdrey England 1989–1993*
    2. Sir Clyde Walcott West Indies 1993–1997*
    3. Jagmohan Dalmiya India 1997–2000
    4. Malcolm Gray Australia 2000–2003
    5. Ehsan Mani Pakistan 2003–2006
    6. Percy Sonn South Africa 2006–2007
    7. Ray Mali South Africa 2007–2008
    8. David Morgan England 2008–2010
    9. Sharad Pawar India 2010–2012
    10. Alan Isaac New Zealand 2012–2014

    List of ICC Presidents. Check out how many are test cricketers or have played cricket at all.Recommend

  • OK

    Its ok to make him chairman if there are not more suitable people. However, clearly there appear to be more suitable people. Who knows…he might even end up doing a better job than the more suitable people. But as the press releases and Najam Sethi himself state: he is only the chairman on an interim basis. Interim usually means 3-6 months…so the question you need to ask yourself is why would they pick someone who does not understand the domestic setup and board/PCB issues to run the PCB for a few months? By the time he gets up to speed his gig will be over.

    Oh, actually he is the most suitable candidate to facilitate free and fair elections…againRecommend

  • waseem sarwar

    but still the question is, why him? They could have asked Subhan Ahmad, who is the next to Zaka Ashraf, to do the interim job. BTW according to your logic, Hamza Shahbaz is the nest PCB head. :)Recommend

  • Faiza

    NS runs book shops and a magazine. Does that make him well equipped to run an engineering company for instance? No and neither does it make him equipped to run PCB. Sports management is a specialised business and one NS has no clue about. A person of his intellect should have read the PCB constitution and he would know that it’s an unconstitutional appointment. Alas, he is also one of those who believes in law only if it suits him.Recommend

  • Faiza

    By your logic me and my father also qualify as we have also played no Test cricket. So why NS and why not me? What was the criteria except the one favoured by PML ie nepotism, and cronyism. Any transparent process followed? Recommend

  • aaaaa


    He’s not offering logic, he’s offering facts. Unimpeahable, incontrovertible facts. Jack the Ripper could also have led the ECB. I hope that sounds as stupid to you as it does to me, since the statement is designed to prove the absurdity of your point.
    And, btw, Ijaz Butt ran shoe stores (Servis) and the PCB made a profit under him, at a time when nobody played cricket in Pakistan. Sure he sucked because of his interference in cricketing matters, but finances were good under him, which is one main jobs of a CEO i.e keep his company out of the red. And he did that pretty well.Recommend

  • @aaaaa:
    Your logic, like all closet PML-N fans, is beyond normal people’s understanding. The fact that you are trying to justify your statement by citing Ijaz Butt, under whose tenure Pakistan completely lost its ability to host any cricket and has been largely cited as a disaster is laughable.Recommend

  • @mmanna888:
    and how many of them were journalists without any clue about cricketing affairs or management? and how many of them had been appointed caretaker chief minister without merit before that and had been accused of favourable treatment towards the incoming government?Recommend

  • aaaaa


    im not a closet PMLN voter. i stated it pretty clearly where it was relevant or for purposes of full disclosure. the authors whole point about lack of experience rests on one editorial 2 decades ago with sethi predicting that pakistan would probably not win, but hey – ‘IK MADE THEM WIN!! So what do you know sethi sahaab? See i proved you have no experience.’ Plus see the authors previous articles. Two of them say the same thing: Please stop bashing PTI. the point of the blog is about experience. i was responding to that. did you miss the bit where i was talking specifically about finances? and the bit where I said overall he was pretty bad? or did you just skip over that bit because it went against the rant you intent on typing? and i stand by my original statement. you might want to refer to that. i never said i supported his appointment. and if the IHC invalidates him, he should (and will, given past record) leave. end of story. For the record, I want Majid Khan to become Chairman PCB, but that doesn’t mean experience is mandatory. Javed Miandad is Director PCB after all. What has he accomplished?Recommend

  • Grammar Police

    @aaa They publish Mani’s love letters because they are very enjoyable to read :DRecommend

  • Captain Obvious

    P.S. This is now on Cricinfo! Maybe they wanted to publish his love letters to the PTI as well LOLRecommend

  • Anonymous

    Why do you have to involve that interview in it and how can you be soo sure he wanted to be involved in it He is very patriotic in Khara journalist in Journalism he has the guts to say everything on every ones face but still you think of him as an idiot !!Recommend

  • Dr Shabir Ahmed

    I dont know why people are criricising credible and cabable person like Najam Sethi.I know some dirty and malafide people like Mubashar Luqman are critisiing him because they are dirty and jealous to him.other are innocent dont know this capable person.I think he fulfill criteria for PCB chairman.He is honest,capable,and credible man.It is not necessary that PCB chairman would be cricketer bu should be sensible person like him who can appoint technichal and honest a care taker CM see his honest appointments also promoted cultural things are exceptional and Supreme court appreciate his appointments.Whole world know him as a respected person.I think it is a great oppurtunity for us to take advantage of his cediblityand capablity to start Cricket again in Pakistan.He is a gift for PAKISTAN.Recommend

  • Right

    @aaaa Why even bring up PTI in the first instance has me very confused. Go home manRecommend

  • Naveed

    @aaaaa: apart from the PTI bias, wouldn’t it have made common sense to promote someone from within the board, to hold the fort until a permanent replacement was found? This was an unnecessary controversial decision by PM Nawaz and was bound to stoke fires. Recommend

  • Mohammed Ahmed

    Najam Sethi may have no very good knowledge of the game of cricket but he has outstanding diplomatic skills and we are seeing him trying his level best to get our
    fast bowler Mohammed Aamer back into International Cricket. What more one can
    expect from a caretaker.Recommend