Ehsan Mani will finally take over as Chairman PCB after formal elections and approval of PCB Board of Governors on September 4. The Chairman PCB is the most talked about person in the country after the Prime Minister.
Mani is probably the best choice in the present situation as the PM is himself the best cricketing brain ever produced by Pakistan.
People may have different opinions about Mani’s predecessor, but besides many lows, the initiation of Pakistan Premier League and bringing international cricket to Pakistan are accomplishments for which Najam Sethi will be remembered.
Mani is not a novice in cricket administration. Having been the ICC chief Mani is likely to add tremendous value to PCB in near future.
Telling Mani and the Prime Minister about managing cricket and the boardroom politics will be a folly that no one should commit. Having served in PCB for a while and seen the organisation from inside, I, however, take this opportunity to suggest a few things.
The PCB headquarters is located in the lofty Gaddafi stadium. I noticed that most of the CEOs are sucked in by the grandeur of the building and don’t bother much to address the employees of the board.
They create a parallel system of obtaining information from their trustees, who mostly provide biased opinions and misguide the king for the sake of their own survival. Dany Crum, one of the most celebrated NBA coaches, in his wonderful book “Leading with the Heart” states that if any CEO wants improvement in his organisation the best man who can tell him what to do is the office boy who cleans his desk in the morning.
Thus Mani’s first and foremost priority should be to put the house in order by infusing confidence in the employees of the board. It is the employees who are the backbone of the organisation and if they feel unprotected they will hardly deliver.
The second challenge comes from the ex-cricketers. Any person that has remained associated with the sport wants to be acknowledged and respected. Mostly the chairman remains preoccupied due to commitments and can’t find much time to engage with ex-players, who feel neglected and seek media support to register their voice.
I always emphasised the importance of establishing The Cricket Hall of Fame in PCB headquarters. This will serve two immediate purposes. The first and foremost is the preservation of Pakistan’s rich cricket heritage for the generations to come. It will also satisfy the urge of the former cricketers to be recognised.
Empathy is the key word that drives modern organisations. Cricket image has been largely tarnished due to match- and spot- fixing allegations. PCB needs to transform this image. This can be easily done by establishing an endowment fund by the name of “Cricket Aid” in which donations shall come from cricket players, sponsors and the cricket board to raise the seed capital of proposed fund.
The fund should be utilised to extend support those former cricketers who are in need. This would help PCB change its image from a profit-generating sports business entity to a modern business enterprise where human resource development gets priority.
Women and disabled cricket development remains a comparatively ignored area. More importance to this area and aligning its objectives professionally with United Nation’s Sports for Development programme can win a lot of international attention, support and acclamation for PCB.
The fifth suggestion is the establishment of National Summer Cricket Academy at any suitable place in KP or northern areas with all modern training facilities. This will not only help the players in attaining better fitness through high altitude training, and practice opportunity in Europe-like conditions but will also help in promoting cricket tourism in the far flung areas of Pakistan.
The PCB needs to revive the Colts programme and this is not possible until school, college and university leagues are organised in Pakistan. Such a programme has the potential to provide educated cricketers to Pakistan.
The development of cricket infrastructure requires immediate attention. I am of the opinion that PCB can easily overcome the financial hurdle by inviting corporates to invest in cricket infrastructure development. All over the world corporates are investing in sports infrastructure such as NFL Levi’s Stadium, Gillette’s Stadium of New England Patriots. I hope Mani will try to have a stadium constructed in Islamabad.
PCB can earn a lot of respect from cricket fans if more respect is extended to the common man coming to the stadium to watch a match after purchasing the ticket. The three major issues which are faced by the viewers are purchase of match tickets both on line and through banks, seating in the stadium and the facilities available.
I fully understand the protocol pressures on PCB, but there is nothing wrong if the seats in first six rows in all enclosures are numbered and are sold at higher rates. Everywhere in the world the VIPs are adjusted as per protocol but the best seats are always sold to generate better gate money.
The PCB souvenir shops in all major cricket centers of the country would also generate tremendous brand loyalty for PCB. The amounts generated should be deposited into Cricket Aid Fund of PCB.
I know there must be many other pressing issues bothering the mind of the Chairman, but the measures that I have suggested are easily doable, and the chairman who gets them executed will leave a legacy that would always be cherished.