If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it: If you think Wasim Akram should replace Najam Sethi, think again!

Published: August 2, 2018
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Wasim Akram is as good as you can get when it comes to understanding the game, but being the PCB chief requires administrative skills.

The verdict is out and the nation has spoken – Naya Pakistan is on its way, and the bandwagon of rejected politicians isn’t going to stop it. This ‘new’ Pakistan comes with a lot of new promises as well, but as the saying goes, ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’. Severe challenges lie ahead for Imran Khan, particularly the economy. Axing Najam Sethi from his job as the Chairman of the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB), as the rumours suggest, would simply open up another wound that is unwarranted.

Wasim Akram, the rumoured replacement, isn’t a weak candidate by any means. He enjoys love from the masses and in the cricket community for his legendary career. In any other part of the world, Akram’s services would have been utilised immediately after his retirement, but of course we are different. The most we wanted out of a genius like Akram was to conduct temporary trials at the PCB headquarters, or host a Ramazan transmission with little meaning and a lot of glamour.

I am not sure if new talent was ever discovered through the futile attempts by the PCB, but we sure did waste our opportunity to make the most out of arguably one of the best bowlers in the history of the game. However, the past is over and Naya Pakistan is the future. Bringing Akram in as the head of the PCB is not a necessity at this stage, considering Sethi is running the PCB more fluently than ever.

PCB chairmanship is a new ball game altogether. Akram is as good as you can get when it comes to understanding the game, but being the PCB chief requires administrative skills. History tells us that cricket players haven’t left us with fond memories whenever they got involved in administrative jobs in the PCB. Only time will tell if this is a wise move, but for now, Sethi should be clearing his desk because him being sacked seems imminent.

Sethi has a tainted past – as evidenced by the ongoing investigation against him – in which he could have dirtied his hands one way or another. After all, he enjoyed a close relationship with the Sharif family which has two of its members behind bars already, with more expected to crash the party at Adiala jail later. However, if we believe in the laws set in our Constitution, then Sethi, like anyone else, is innocent until proven guilty.

Despite my personal dislike of him, I was the first to write about the appreciation he deserves for his performance as the PCB Chairman. It wasn’t a favour to him; good work in the best interest for the nation will always have my support.

Sethi was the first chairman who seemed to understand what his title demands from him. He focused his energy on the bigger picture, rather than interfering in others’ work. From giving full autonomy to the selection committee and to Mickey Arthur, to taking on full responsibility for converting the dream of Pakistan Super League (PSL) into a reality, Sethi proved his mettle early on, but he didn’t stop at that. After all, bringing cricket home was critical for Pakistan.

International teams had been offering nothing but prayers when it came to playing cricket in Pakistan. But who would know better than Sethi that money talks! Those who didn’t feel safe playing cricket in Pakistan later had a sudden change of heart with some easy cash up for grabs. It may sound like a cheap tactic, but Sethi did what works best in today’s society. Teams like Zimbabwe, West Indies, Sri Lanka as well as the World XI group toured Pakistan, but Sethi wasn’t done yet. Next up on his list was PCB’s relationship with the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI).

The BCCI had only one way of dealing with other boards outside the ‘Big Three’, and it revolved around making promises that can be broken when need be. Sethi cared little about the International Cricket Council’s (ICC) favourite child, and went on to file a case against the BCCI. This action needed the highest level of political acumen, and who better than Sethi for the job. Before he gets sacked, let the fact that he forced ICC to move the Asia Cup from India to the UAE sink in.

I have no doubt that Sethi has done remarkably well within the resources available. The man who brought cricket home, is being sent packing himself. It’s sad that his downfall would not be due to a lack of performance, but rather his love for dirty political games.

They say if you play with fire then be willing to get burnt. Sethi ignited the fire when he made it a habit to practice yellow journalism on his TV show called Apas Ki Baat. He left the show once a conflict of interest occurred between his PCB position and doing a political show on TV. However, by the time he left, the damage had been done and enemies had been created. His TV show seemed more of a consultancy session for Nawaz Sharif than anything else.

When PSL first came to Lahore, Sethi couldn’t help but show his political loyalty by kissing praises to the Punjab government amidst chants of “Go Nawaz Go”. It was an ugly moment to witness, but that moment perhaps best describes Sethi’s story. He did everything right, but once a political appointment, always a political appointment.

Sethi does not deserve to be removed, but in all honesty, he went out calling for it. He chose this fight with Imran, and only he will pay the price. However, in this unfortunate political battle between Sethi and Imran, if Sethi ends up getting sacked, it is Pakistan cricket and its fans who are most likely to be the losers.

Hamza Junaid

Hamza Junaid

The author is an avid cricket follower and plays for a team called Gladiators based in New York. He tweets as @hamza_junaid1 (twitter.com/hamza_junaid1)

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

  • James Caan

    Najam Sethi being a political appointee of Nawaz Sharif should have shown loyalty to his leader who is languishing in Adiala jail….RESIGN & GO !!!Recommend

  • En em

    whilst Najam Sethi brought cricket back home and the PSL – the PCB should be more than being a thank you gift for relatives and friends. Considering we still have a very weak cricket infrastructure and some may also argue luck has flown in the direction of the National team winning ….there is still more to be done…..which needs passion along with administrative skills …..Recommend

  • Hamza Junaid

    If anything is proved against Sethi then he sure will join them but until that happens he innocent and should be allowed to continue working.Recommend

  • Hamza Junaid

    I completely agree with you that PCB head position should not be a Thank You gift. However, Imran Khan should change the process to be the PCB head in the future. Not Najam Sethi who is performing better than any chairman before.Recommend

  • Patwari

    Anybody remember “…36 punctures…” that was Najmol Sethi’s
    phone call to his master, the Darbari from Lahore, during 2013
    elections? [Doing some shady political fixing for his patron Nawaz.]
    When you are a political appointee, and got your job as a ‘political
    payback’, then it’s time to leave, when your patron, the Nihari Man
    is sitting in jail, along with his mealy mouthed daughter and extremists
    supporting son in law. Adios and goodbye, Najmol.
    Chairmanship of PCB is not a lifetime tenure.
    There are other, very competent men, who can do this job.Recommend

  • Usman Rehmatullah

    As much as I hate Najam Sethi, I think he did a good job. If I was Imran Khan I would leave him to finish his tenure and than replace him with Wasim Akram or whoever fits the job…Recommend

  • Mirwais Burhan Bhat

    PSL was proposed almost 10 years ago, what in the world are you even talking about? It’s hiliarious to see these Anglo Pakistani elites covering up an defending their own breed like hyenas. Najam Sethi did some good, but a guy like Wasim Akram who actually played the sport would be better to the helm of PCB.

    And while we’re on this discussion. Where’s the National Stadium roof which PCB claimed would be done before Eid? Where’s the Islamabad Cricket Stadium which still hasn’t even seen a shovel in the ground? Where are the international matches? Where are the much needed revamping of First Class Cricket and eliminating department teams.

    PCB, like PFF and PHF, are all run by incompetence. All three should be completely cleared out of these old men and replaced with former players and people who actually know how to bat, kick a ball or shoot a ball.Recommend

  • Waqas

    Nice article. I totally agree with you Najam Sethi is doing is very good and should not be sacked.Recommend

  • Sharmeen Aziz

    Its strange that based on speculation we can make a news article but also a detail analysis on the report as well, we need to relax a little bit.Recommend

  • Ghessan

    well well well, isn’t it too much of it? It seems the whole is just a praise elongated and elongated stretch to the limits. it is better for him to resign himself and “NO” this is not a political revenge if he is fired. He has his past telling the whole story. And all those tweets seems his own campaign of him being good. It is not that he is the only being to run PCB. What, when he is no more, will it be run spiritually. I don’t buy this.Recommend

  • Israr Khan

    Hey Hamza :) … i disagree with most of the twittes and most of the analysis here … wasim has great leadership quality and if he desires so should be made the pcb head for sure, he will bring his personal PR his austrailain Indian English links and get the teams to visit Pakistan, ppl in these boards and players will trust him as he himself has been a player… yes he is a Pakistan yet he is also a father a player and a family man so his worlds will be taken seriously, how can a player perform in stress who knows better than him… if i have pick between him and sethi its WASIM all the way….
    Now lets talk about Najam sethi… IK in his speech spoke about merit and end of corruption. Sethi is an insult to merit and a feed to corruption. The man has no personality and wherever he has gone he has brought shame to PCB.
    the history of him being removed and reinstated clearly showed he was not on merit and ppp wanted their man who again was not fit for purpose … PCB SHOULD NOT ONLY BE RUN BY CRICKETERS .. Okay yes i accept that so who can be part of PCB … good administrators , good ambassadors, team players, organized and honest ppl … SETHI IS NONE OF THIS … at best a STOOGE OF NAWAZ … he is a political person who should not be the head of pcb as he is always going to fav nawaz his master …. for me the choice is simple. Sethi should be replaced by good ex cricketer.. but most imp for any person to head pcb is someone who has passion for cricket and loves cricket more than anything.. SETHI JUST LOVES THE MONEY THIS JOB PAYS HIM…Recommend

  • Israr Khan

    hmm he is a liar and a dishonest person, plus he does not fit on merit,has no skills to make him pcb chairman, his fault or not he should not be sitting at this key position he does not deserve it… look at it this way … a person who is dual nationality holder is made president of Pakistan… law says a dual national cannot be president of Pakistan, however before that morally mr president should not be the president himself … sethi violated the basic law of morality and then on live TV @ dunya news 1-2 years ago he lied says Shehriyar’s wife BCCI chairman’s wife are talking as link between the two boards / chairmen…. even kamran khan went like .. FOR GOD’S SAKE SETHI SAAB … this is the kinda personality this man has this is the kinda character this man is… a liar a dishonest person and NOT FIT FOR PURPOSE…Recommend

  • Parvez

    The head of the PCB has over the last few decades always been a political appointment ….. a cushy job awarded for favors done. Having said that ….yes I think Waseen Akram would not be a good choice for the post because it requires 80% diplomatic and negotiating skill with a 20% understanding of the game.Recommend

  • Manzoor Ahmed

    Why are you imposing your views whether its broke or not. Najam Sethi is a political appointee by a na ahal ex pm for his services he rendered in caretaker setup. Wasim Akram contribution to Pakistan cricket speaks volumes of why he should be in charge of PCB. There are many options like Javed Miandad and many cricketers who have bought great name to this country. ICC didn’t select Najam Sethi because they don’t accept political touts to lead their council.Recommend

  • Amir

    Stop the effing speculations please. Spare us. Talk when it ACTUALLY
    happensRecommend

  • aisha

    Please stop jumping the gun!!! Stop speculating. Nothing has happened as yet.Recommend

  • Patwari

    Correct. Agree with you. Nothing so far.Recommend

  • Hamza Junaid

    @mirwaisburhanbhat:disqus
    Yes isn’t it funny that PSL was proposed 10 years ago yet it only lived on a piece of paper. Maybe that should tell you something that proposing ideas are very different from being able to implement them. I can sit and give 10 more ideas. lets create a Pakistan Basketball League, Golf League this league that league. The point is that being able to make the logistics work is the real deal which none of his his previous PCB chairmen were able to do. Had they been competent enough PSL would have launched around the same time as IPL.

    And while we are on this discussion, It’s funny we complain about national stadium room and Islamabad Stadium while the previous chairmen had given up on even trying to bring teams to Pakistan. But of course national stadium room is a far more serious problem.

    PCB has incompetence. There is no doubt about that. But has it been far better than before? Yes, it has. Changes should be brought where it’s needed. Najam Sethi is not the problem, other incompetent personnel in PCB need to be filtered out.

    Thanks for sharing your opinion and please learn to respect others.Recommend

  • Hamza Junaid

    Lets hope if he is to be replaced then someone equally or more competent than him takes his place.Recommend

  • Hamza Junaid

    I agree. Its a speculation especially regarding Wasim Akram.Recommend

  • Hamza Junaid

    He hasn’t been extra ordinary but I feel he has done a good enough job to continue. Thanks for tuning in Ghessan. Hopefully he will be replaced with a equally or even more competent person.Recommend

  • Hamza Junaid

    Hi Israr! Great to hear from you again! I agree with most of what you have said to be honest and as I said in the end that he deserves to be sacked for being a Stooge of Nawaz as you put it. However, if I ignore his political past then all I am trying to say is that he has done a good job so far. At least far better than previous PCB heads.

    You are right Wasim Akram has good connections but teams arn’t going to tour because Wasim Akram said so. They all fear for their lives and Wasim Akram is not a security expert. Convincing foreign teams is a uphill task and a lot depends the internal security situation. Hopefully things will improve and its perfectly fine for you to disagree with me.

    At least your feedback is constructive and worth debating :) Some good points you raised there.Recommend

  • Hamza Junaid

    Agreed with you Parvez. If anything, the process to select the PCB head should be changed not Najam Sethi so in future the chairman comes through a non-political process.Recommend

  • Hamza Junaid

    Manzoor you are right that the process to bring in a PCB chairman is incorrect. It should not be be a political appointee. So therefore lets fix the process but Najam Sethi has done good work. Why should he be punished? Either way I hope for PCB to continue the good work.Recommend

  • Hamza Junaid

    Its true nothing has happened yet. This is just an opinion piece on rumors circulating. Can’t say much about Wasim Akram but Najam Sethi is most likely to be sacked.Recommend

  • Hamza Junaid

    Agreed 100% . That was precisely my opinion as well. I personally don’t like Najam Sethi but he did a good job so let him complete his tenure.Recommend

  • Hamza Junaid

    Thanks Waqas. It seems however people are not willing to forgive his political past and that makes sense. Seems like he will have to leave.Recommend

  • Patwari

    Everyone has a right to their opinion, no matter how flawed or brilliant.
    They can express them too. It’s called freedom of expression.Recommend

  • UJ

    Why are Pakistanis obsessed with personalities? If Sethi did good, then his successor would also do good if proper systems are in place.Recommend

  • Hamza Junaid

    @UJ the answer is simple. Proper systems are not in place.Recommend

  • munsoor rahmaan

    Isn’t his post an elected post where the board elects its own chairman. I think its high time that head of state stop interfering in established structures. The PCB is an independent body yes under the PM of pakistan who can appoint an observer in the body or use his executive powers for chairman appointment but i do not think that systems should run on ad-hocismRecommend

  • Naseer

    Sethi is corrupt!!! Kick him out! Period!Recommend

  • Hamza Junaid

    Agreed. The flaws in the system need to be improved so that it runs independently and has nothing to do with the political party in power.Recommend

  • Hamza Junaid

    If he is corrupt then shouldn’t he be taken to court and put behind bars? Kicking him out should not be enough If you are so certain that he is corrupt. He should be taken out by filing a case against him with evidence otherwise no need to make false claims. I support PTI too but good work should be appreciated, we are all Pakistanis at the end of the day.Recommend