LAHORE: Former Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chairman Ramiz Raja has said that the mindset influenced by India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party has taken over the Indian cricket board which is trying to create hurdles for Pakistan internationally.

While speaking during an event at the Government College University (GCU), Ramiz Raja said the International Cricket Council (ICC) is influenced by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) because most of its revenue comes from India. “I took the stance for the country when India tried to pressurise Pakistan to shift this year’s Asia Cup to a neutral venue despite the Asian Cricket Council’s (ACC) decision to give hosting rights to Pakistan,” he said. “I had said that Pakistan will not go to India for the ICC World Cup if the neighbouring country pulls out of the Asia Cup in Pakistan.”

He said he had focused on growth and consistency during his 1.5-year tenure as PCB chief, adding that overthrowing an existing set-up by bulldozing the constitution is unfair. He added that the Indian cricket team, with a billion-dollar cricket industry was unable to make it to the finals of the T20 World Cup but Pakistan did.

The former PCB chief also spoke out against the change of PCB’s constitution, saying talent is wasted when excellence and continuity are blocked. He added that such radical changes in the PCB and the system would demoralise young players, adding that the restoration of PCB’s 2014 Constitution has brought Pakistan cricket to a dark age.

Raja alleged that the new set-up promised to provide jobs; however, they have fired over 150 coaches. He also rejected the notion that cricketers are not good administrators and said that cricket affairs should be run by cricketers and be kept out of politics.

Highlighting the importance of education in finding the right path in life, Raja emphasized that education helped him stay away from match-fixing. “Don't let technology consume you. Make time for sports and physical activity, it will pay off in the long run. It would be an injustice to this magnificent campus if you neglect sports while studying here at the Government College Lahore,” he said.

When asked by a student about his plans for the PCB should he be given the opportunity to lead again; he responded by highlighting his commitment to the welfare of cricketers. He disclosed that he intends to establish a cricket foundation that will support and develop young talent, and will make Pakistan a top-performing team in the world of Test cricket.

Talking about Shan Masood's appointment as vice-captain of the one-day team for the New Zealand series, Raja said that a player whose place in the playing eleven was not secure was named Babar Azam's deputy, adding that such tempering would only cause pressure on the team.

Regarding wicket-keeper batsman Sarfaraz Ahmed's benching during his era, he said that Sarfaraz was always part of the Test setup, but the playing eleven was always picked by the coach and captain.

The Government College University Lahore conferred its Lifetime Achievement Award upon Ramiz Raja at a ceremony. The award recognizes alumni who have made outstanding contributions in their field and is one of the highest honours GCU bestows. Raja expressed gratitude towards GCU for recognizing him with this prestigious award and called it a great honour.

Vice Chancellor, Prof. Asghar Zaidi, commended Ramiz Raja for his outstanding contributions to the field of cricket. He believed that recognizing and honoring the achievements of alumni can help inspire current students and encourage them to strive for excellence in their own pursuits. He revealed the plans for Rs. 400 million projects to construct a specialized hostel for elite athletes at GCU Lahore. The hostel will feature state-of-the-art amenities such as accommodation, training facilities and recreational areas, providing the athletes with a comprehensive environment to excel in their sports.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2023

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