Why fans should not enjoy India-Pakistan match: PCB chairman Ramiz Raja

Handpicked by his captain and now Prime Minister Imran Khan to run Pakistan cricket about six months ago, Ramiz Raja has done an eventful job. The win against India in the T20 World Cup, New Zealand's last-minute pull-out, the successful hosting of the PSL and the much-awaited tour of Australia - were not a dull moment for the PCB chairman. This week, Raja tried his most ambitious pitch at the ICC Board Meeting, an annual four-nation Twenty20 tournament involving Pakistan, India, Australia and England. Since the BCCI is not interested in supporting the PCB proposal, Raja is not worried even if he faces a difficult task. In his chat with Sandeep Dwivedi, the former Pakistan captain talked about building cricket resources and becoming self-reliant.


There are many positive aspects in Pakistan cricket since you took charge. A standout thing that you enjoy the most?

I am afraid that Pakistan will have to beat India in the (T20) World Cup. It was the effect of a wave on the mood of a fan. We saw something good happen after that moment, because the fans started believing in Pakistan cricket. That was kind of a turning point.

You got Australia to Pakistan, the New Zealand tour was the unfortunate bit. The big question now is a series against India, which hinges on many factors. What’s the plan ahead?

Whenever I talk about India and Pakistan, it’s not always as the chairman of a Cricket Board. But it’s the cricketer that comes out. And as a cricketer, I’ll say that politics can be set aside because why should the fans not enjoy India-Pakistan games. The numbers and the figures are there for everyone to see why it is still the best competition in the world. And the idea of a Four-Nation series (PCB is to purpose an annual T20 series involving India, Pakistan, England and Australia at ICC this week) stems from that very fact. And somehow, we’ve got to make it happen. And if not now, when? Because there are three ex-cricketers representing the Board. (Sourav Ganguly – India, Raja – Pakistan and Martin Snedden – New Zealand).

And I am not taking this forward as the PCB chairman, I am taking this idea forward as a member of the ICC board. It's not us versus them, it's us versus us. The latest great idea was the T20 World Cup, which was held in 2007. So nothing new has come up since the 2007 event, and here's a chance. This thing happens in rugby, so we have a precedent.

I just hope we see this concept as a cricket concept, not a political concept.

Whenever there is talk of India-Pakistan cricket, the BCCI says their hands are tied and it is the government's decision. So how can this idea work?

I hope the BCCI will take this idea back to the political arena and talk to the authorities about cricket. It's as simple as that. Let's not forget that I have the same kind of stress. The situation is no different than that horrible or terrible. I am taking this liberty without any government intervention in the interest of the game just to promote an idea like my own. If I could do that, I could get a shut-up call, I don't know. The point is, I'm going to take it anyway because as a cricketer I believe it should be.

Is it okay for your government to visit Pakistan or visit India or Pakistan or play in two neutral venues?

Obviously, we will ask for directions, we will cross the bridge in time. It will be just speculation now.

Over the years, it has been noticed that whenever India-Pakistan will play at a neutral venue, as much noise as we see in the stands, European football says. Do you think administrators should inform the government?

When was the last fight in the corridor? Never, never, never. It's just that they blocked a great way to communicate with people, which frustrated me.

What about IPL-PSL comparison and one-upmanship? Do you think PSL is better than IPL or vice versa?

IPL was wrong from the beginning - let's see if people go to play IPL. The bottom line is that we want to be competitive, and we want to create a product that is as huge as the IPL. There is nothing wrong with that because then we have to work hard to move from the draft to the auction model. It has started to happen, we have got a very strong, strong and energetic cricket economy. I know for a fact that we have to work very hard to get it in the auction module, but there is no harm in trying. I'm not a fence-sitter. I am trying my best to take this thing to an auction model next year but it has nothing to do with competing in the IPL. We need to be proud of our own model and make it bigger.

What is the obstacle of Indian government for Pakistan in organizing ICC event?

I don't even think about it. Not really annoying because what has happened is that Pakistan cricket is worth watching, there is a lot of interest from domestic spectators and whatever it is, Pakistan cricket is going to grow. It has international and domestic bibles and, inshaAllah, it is going to be the warmest, best season of all time. There is a lot of trust and confidence in fans, teams and products. From that point of view, I am completely relieved.

So, it doesn't really bother you that you can't host the Asia Cup if India is not allowed to travel to Pakistan.

It's not really. I mean, I don't even think about it, it doesn't bother me at all.

Like diplomacy, is there a backdoor discussion between India and Pakistan in cricket? Did you pick up the phone and talk to each other informally?

We talked about this at the last meeting of the ICC and obviously, there are political hurdles that both sides need to clear. But there is a lot of friendship and goodwill. This is actually a good start.

So, Sourav Ganguly and you can have heart to heart?

Yes. Yes, we are talking about the game, personal talent, the scope of India-Pakistan, what are the barriers. Can we overcome them? Quite simply, nothing official.

So, Pakistan has to fight its own war, there you are alone

This is why I want to promote the wealth of Pakistan cricket, to be self-reliant, not to be dependent. When you are alone, it is a great feeling when you try to build a property and live like yourself.

It gives you a lot of confidence, you are very proud of what you are trying to achieve without any help. That's where we are. So women have PSL in February, InshaAllah. It is going to be under-19 PSL. There is a lot of traction here and in fact we are self-sufficient.

Since you joined we have been seeing a new image of Pakistan cricket. PCB's social media is much more active. During the T20 World Cup, your players met unofficially with Australian cricketers in this video post to explain what Pakistan is. How important are these things in this day and age and what are your efforts to promote cricket as a soft power?

This is very important because you need to understand each other's mentality. Unfortunately, the world is divided into tribes. One tribe does not want to understand another tribe and so we have them versus their condition. To clear this perception, it is important to reach out to other tribes and try to explain things. I think these individual leagues have come a long way in determining this. But I also feel at the international level, country vs. country, it's so important that we take care of each other because at the end of the day, it's a tough game on the field but off the field, we can do a lot. Good thing. .

I am proud of the way Pakistan has handled itself on and off the field against Australia during and after the World Cup. The series was played in a great atmosphere, great friendship was seen between the two teams.

Australian journalists were roaming around without security, brawling on social media. Social media is alive and kicking in Pakistan. Our digital team has done a great job. The message is gone and it has worked to promote our image.

Are these things reflected in the PCB balance sheet? What are the T20 World Cup and PSL numbers?

Absolutely. Yes, record performance during PSL. The tour of Australia was also very fruitful. Also, we are getting new companies to sign up for Pathway Cricket, which is my dream project. Thus, 100 children will be cared for by the best coaches in the world, under the auspices of an organization These children will be given a stipend every month, then they will be given free education. So instead of one Babar Azam, all I am trying to do is create 3 or 4 Babar Azam. One of the reasons for the catastrophe in Pakistan cricket is the lack of support and I think that's where we lack consistency. Pathway cricket is about creating a support system.

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