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PCB chief claims to have crushed player power

LAHORE, May 11: Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chairman Ijaz Butt has claimed player power has been completely eradicated from the national side while asserting that financial position of the board has also improved despite being forced to play several home series at neutral venues in the last couple of years.

“Let me assure you that player power, though present in the past, does not exist in the national team at the moment as I have taken strict actions to eradicate it,” the PCB chairman claimed in an interview with Dawn on Wednesday.

“To crush player power, I penalised even prominent players like Younis Khan, Shahid Afridi, Shoaib Malik and Kamran Akmal without showing any reluctance which in the past had damaged the team spirit,” he said.

He said the main reasons behind player power was some senior players’ attitude as they were not ready to give chance to juniors and wanted their domination but the PCB introduced a fair number of new players in the side and took strict actions against undisciplined seniors.

He said in the past Afridi and Younis had also developed differences but he had made it clear to them that they would be dropped if they did not mend their ways.

When asked whether indiscipline still existed in the board as during the ongoing West Indies tour, chief selector Mohsin Khan threatened to resign while limited-overs captain Afridi criticised head coach Waqar Younis, Ijaz said he had already taken prompt action by sending a show-cause notice to Afridi whereas Mohsin was prevented from holding news conference in Karachi.

Had Mohsin held the news conference, he would have to face the consequences, the PCB chief added.

Asked it had been reported that coach Waqar and captain Afridi exchanged heated words over the selection of some players, the chairman said he was waiting for manager Intikhab Alam’s report before deciding to take any action.

“An undisciplined person, whether he is an official or player, will face punishment at the end of the tour,” he said.

He admitted though the existing system under which the selectors had to choose 15 players and the tour selection committee had to pick the playing eleven had some flaws, it suited Pakistan.

Asked Cricket Australia’s selection committee names the playing XI and even decides the batting order that helps it hold anyone responsible in case of a defeat, the PCB chairman said only CA had been practising it and was adamant that it did not suit Pakistan.

He said one of the solutions to this problem was a strong head of the tour selection committee.

To a question, Ijaz admitted that on some occasions he had differed with the selectors and he had asked them to review the selection of some players.

“And whenever the selectors refused to review the selection, I used my constitutional power and made the changes,” he stated.

Asked what were the major achievements of his almost three-year tenure as PCB chief, Ijaz said the board’s reserves had increased to Rs3.2 billion.

“We achieved this despite playing our home series at neutral venues,” he said. “The PCB was financially weak with the reserves of Rs1.6 billion when I took over the charge and it owed over Rs1 billion to different parties.”

He claimed PCB’s financial position would further improve if the Indian team visits Pakistan.

“A meeting in this regard is going to be held in June and as Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has given a green signal for this tour I am quite hopeful for it,” he said.

“The tour can be possible this year if we decide to split it into two phases, one-day and T20 at any neutral venue and Test matches in Pakistan,” he remarked.

He admitted that some senators had pressurised him to release payments to the contractor who was renovating the Gaddafi Stadium.

Ijaz said the total claim of the party was Rs180 million which was fake and after thorough investigation it was revealed that the total amount was Rs8.4 million.

The PCB has so far paid him Rs3.4 million.

Asked had he taken any action against the responsible officials, he disclosed the cases were lying before NAB and the Public Accounts Committee.

The chairman said Pakistan won the World Twenty20 in 2009, besides reaching the semi-finals of the 2009 Champions Trophy, the 2010 World Twenty20 and the 2011 World Cup under his tenure.

He said a fair number of domestic matches were being played and the PCB had also awarded the central contracts to the best 20 players of each region.

But asked many top performers of the domestic cricket were disappointed for not being selected, he dispelled the impression and said though the selectors could not give chances to all top performers, between eight to 10 had been introduced.