‘Our cricket has reached the lowest ground’, says Najam Sethi

Image courtesy of: The Hindu

Sethi is doing everything in his power to revive international cricket in Pakistan

Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) interim chairman Najam Sethi has admitted that the country’s “cricket has reached the lowest ground” due to their recent string of defeats and controversies.

During the recently concluded Champions Trophy, Pakistan were unable to win any of their matches and nor were they capable of making 200 runs or batting out their allotted 50 overs.

Also, four of their cricketers – Salman Butt, Mohammad Asif, Mohammad Amir and Danish Kaneria, were found guilty of and banned by the International Cricket Council (ICC) for match-fixing.

However, their corruption problems don’t stop with the players as one of their umpires, Nadeem Ghauri, was recently banned for corruption, while internationally acclaimed umpire, Asaf Rauf is also under investigation by Mumbai police for having played a part in the recent Indian Premier League (IPL) match-fixing scandal.

As if this were not enough, even the PCB have experienced their fair share of trouble as chairman Zaka Ashraf was suspended by the Islamabad High Court due to a “dubious” election.

To make matters even worse, Pakistan have not hosted an international match or series since March 2009 after the Sri Lankan national team were ambushed by armed militants, which left six of their players injured.

“Our cricket has reached the lowest ground,” Sethi said. “We are not winning matches. We are facing allegations of cheating with our players and an umpire being banned, and teams are refusing to tour, so we need to address all that.”

Sethi, whose top priority is to bring international cricket back to the shores of Pakistan, noted that he was currently talking to a number of cricket boards to try and organise a tour.

“Every country needs assurances on security, and until and unless we give them those they will not tour,” he said. “I have talked to the England and West Indies boards regarding [them] sending unofficial teams, so that we can make a beginning. I have assured the ICC and other countries that a new government has taken over and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is determined to root out terrorism. Based on that they agreed to review our situation, provided things really improve.

“The maximum we can do is ask the ICC to review [the situation] after one year, but they demand assurances and demonstrable progress.”

Sethi is also looking into getting Amir’s five-year ban relaxed and has already urged the ICC to allow him to use the PCB’s training facilities.

“I have discussed Amir’s ban with my colleagues in the PCB and we will soon hire a foreign lawyer in the UK to look at ways to get at least 20% relief for Amir,” Sethi said. “I stressed that the international community needed to review his case and I am hopeful that Amir will get the relaxation.”

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