LAHORE - Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chairman Najam Sethi has lashed out at the previous managers of the cricket board over financial losses.

Sethi said this during a discussion on ‘Cricket in Pakistan’ held under the auspices of the Centre for Governance and Policy of the Information Technology University (ITU) Punjab here on Friday. He said the efforts were exerted on two fronts - improving the management and the game itself.

He recalled the long path he took to clean up the organisation that was previously rooted in corruption, lethargy, and bureaucratic red tape, and the diplomacy with which PCB convinced foreign players to play on Pakistani grounds during the World XI. “The managerial problems played havoc in the PCB as nothing was done to get the corers of dues from various defaulters while five-story ‘Cricket House’ building on Jail Road had three floor vacant, which could have generated revenue.

“The criminal negligence closed Ghari Khuda Bux and Bugti Stadiums and pathetic situation of Karachi Stadium was being renovated at a cost of Rs 1.5 billion and the Lahore Cricket Academy could not be completed for three years, the biometric lab equipment remained packed, which has now been installed at LUMS being the sixth operational Biomechanical Lab in the world while around 200 political appointees including Musharaf era were expelled and Rs 100 million were saved,” he added.

The PCB chief said that the cricket board was going to honor its national heroes Misbah-ul-Haq, Younus Khan and Shahid Afridi on September 14. “The PCB is always willing to appreciate those, who play out their heart to earn laurels for the country at international level. These cricketers have done a lot for Pakistan and its cricket and they deserve to be honoured by the board.”

Elucidating the efforts undertaken for the revival of international cricket in Pakistan, Sethi said after the tour of World XI, the teams of Sri Lankan and West Indies are ready to visit and play in Pakistan. “Gradually, we will bring full-fledge international cricket in Pakistan and not only Lahore, other cities will also host the international matches. Next year, Karachi is going to host two double headers four PSL matches scheduled in February and March,” he added. He hoped that India has to abide by the rules drawn in the contract with ICC and to honor it.

Speaking on the occasion, Peter Oborne, who is author of ‘Wounded Tiger: A History of Cricket in Pakistan’ said: “The explosion of talents in the rural areas of Pakistan reinvented the game of cricket while since inception of Pakistan, cricket remained at top with the performance of legendary Fazal Mehmood. In a country driven by ethnic, religious and regional violence, cricket has served as a massive uniting force for Pakistanis.”

Recalling the successes of Pakistan, Oborne said it was Pakistan, who sent South Africa out of cricket and whitewashed India, Australia and New Zealand and produced genius after genius. “Over the years, the game has moulded Pakistan’s national identity, and PCB’s efforts to revitalize the sport have been monumental.

Lauding the PCB’s work, Oborne said: “Cricket has always been a symbol of independence in Pakistan, and keeping up the game was a remarkable achievement by the PCB. I hope soon international Test matches will also come to Pakistan next year.”