Lahore: PCB chairman Ehsan Mani on Wednesday said that the board is keen on convincing one or two foreign players to play first-class cricket in Pakistan.
Mani in a podcast with Peter Oborne and Richard Heller said that the move is aimed at improving the domestic circuit in Pakistan. “One of the things we are going to do with our first-class cricket is to encourage one or two overseas players to come and play,” he said.
“It is great for our players to be playing with the international players and that’s not going to happen overnight. We are working to take our first-class cricket to a complete different level and have it so competitive and so attractive for overseas players that they wish and keen to be part of it,” said Mani.
“I realised what happening was that the players, who played for the departments in first-class cricket, went and played Grade-II cricket for the regions. So, they were blocking the pathway for youngsters, who come through Grade-II cricket into the first-class game.
“The system was totally whopped. When I looked at the averages and first innings scores of our teams in the first-class matches, the first innings scores was one of the lowest in the world, lower than Zimbabwe. So, I knew something was not right. I concluded that we needed to have quality and quantity without cutting back on the opportunities for the youngsters to play cricket and working their way up if they are good enough.
“So we have set-up six Cricket Associations with hundred cities playing cricket among them, 16 to 17 cities per Cricket Association. Under them we will have somewhere around three and a half or four thousand cricket clubs. We produce cricketers in Pakistan in spite of a system not because of the system so we have got to make the system where we capture the best and give every youngster an opportunity to work his way up through a proper structured pathway.
“There’s a lot of talk about people losing jobs in Pakistan. I have worked out that six Cricket Associations with a hundred cities playing cricket with 3,000 clubs, we are going to create more jobs for former players. It is going to take time and it is not going to happen overnight,” he added.
Again the question of India-Pakistan billateral series surfaced, and Mani said that though he is keen on it, he is not going to run after it.
“I have taken the view, and I have let it be known to the BCCI, that we are always there to play, but we are not going to be running after them. It is their call, when they are ready to play, we will be willing to play.”