ISLAMABAD - Typical to its culture of strengthening the failures, Pakistan Cricket Board is all set to revamp, rather damage, the players-production factory - domestic cricket - by going on the pathway, which has never been practiced in any other country merging regions with departments.

The plans envisage subjugation of elected associations by the departments, thus, decimating the role of associations to the level that their say in the first class cricket would be evaporated.

Chairman PCB Task Force on Domestic Cricket Restructuring, Lt Gen (R) Muzammil Hussain had already cancelled departments/regions heads meeting twice, he had convened and has now set 14th of this month to conduct the long-awaited meeting. “Hybrid Domestic Cricket”, that is Lt Gen (R) Muzammil Hussain, called in the meetings he chaired over last two-three months. He used the word “Hybrid” to explain or elaborate the mix or merger of regions and departments that would effectively reduce first class teams from 16 to mere 8 in all.

Reports emanating from the PCB headquarters suggest that the plan is almost ready and lying on the desk of Director Domestic Cricket Operations Haroon Rashid, now his 8th assignment within the PCB set up since he joined the organisation in an official capacity and is a proven stunning failure on all these assignments.

Before giving final touches or securing the consent of the key stakeholders, little dilatory tactics have been adopted by putting off consultative meeting with the regional heads twice in late February 2019, the Task Force had interacted with the representatives of the departments and found no outcome but “more cribbing” all around.

The department’s representatives squarely rejected the proposed plan primarily for two broad-based reasons, though they were not shared the blueprint of the damning Domestic Restructuring Plan. The plan was kept away from them for the sake of holding another strategic meeting before approving the same.

The two broad-based reasons for which this plan was rejected by the departments are: firstly, taking away exclusive right from the departments to field their own first class teams under the name and banner of the respective departments; secondly, merging them with the regions would ignite more problems, rather solving any, with start of tug of war likely to be started between the two over the matter of who would call shots in the merged set up.

The departmental representatives feel that they would also become victim of the power-tussle and a kind of bickering to be the hallmark of new experience in the name of merger, however, in sharp contrast to their hidden fears the Task Force and its members are hatching a conspiracy to write premature obituary of the regions from the first class cricket. The subjugation or occupation of regions by departments is designed carefully in following terms: 1) the merged region-department entity will be headed by the departmental representative, 2) the representation on the PCB BoGs or under new constitution Board of Directors (BoDs) will be from the departmental representative of the merged entity and finally the players of a merged region-department will be hired by the concerned department with no role of the regions. The departments will form the first class team, appoint its officials and would also take the cake of half equity money poured out by the PCB in the merged region-department entity.

Cynics say that this whole hidden game plan is well-devised in a way to keep it secret and induct it in the new PCB constitution and its enforcement through writ of the government as at that point the regions or any anti elements would be left with no option but to beat their chests with no redresser in the sight.

This strategic plan has many inbuilt structural flaws, which would decide its fate if someone properly present its case to Prime Minister Imran Khan, a legendry cricketer. The flaws in the so-called secret strategic domestic restructuring plan are: The prime minister has expressed his desire to say goodbye to departments and strengthen elected associations but the thinking and working of the Task Force tells the different story either because of their vested interest or their try to dodge the prime minister and capture-all mindset; the regions will have no role in the reformed first class cricket but to watch all this from outside the fence; the sway of elected associations would be reduced to only Grade-II cricket, junior cricket, school, club cricket etc.

Pakistan has undergone many systems of domestic cricket since 1950 but on the outlook of it the one being finalised by the Task Force with Haroon Rashid authoring it would be the worst one if it is approved by the PCB.

It goes without saying that for the production of quality cricketers and having a qualitative domestic structure the role of associations is the key. The new plan will have no community support to say the least, though the prime minister’s emphatic emphasis is on getting the new domestic system backed by community support that can only be achieved by recognising the role of the elected associations.

It is hoped that in the best interest of cricket, the PM will not sanctioned any such recommendations and have mercy on thousands of budding cricketers, who earn bread and butter for their families through departments and regions. Already lot of cricketers had badly suffered due to PCB’s confused stance as holding Quiad-e-Azam Trophy and One Day cup matches without any gaps had cost number of players contracts in England and other countries where they could earn few extra bucks for their families. If the proposed plan goes ahead, youth will badly suffer and Pakistan cricket is already facing lot of problems, it will further add to players’ miseries.