LAHORE - Pakistan cricket is always in the limelight and in the news for all the right and wrong reasons. Over the years, bashing the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) has become a favourite pastime of our esteemed selected media houses and a bunch of former ‘sagacious’ cricketers.

This ‘hatred’ against the present PCB officials, who are somehow appointed by the PCB patron, may be, against their wishes, knows no boundaries. The ongoing mischievous campaign against PCB chairman Shaharyar Khan in general and PCB executive committee chairman Najam Sethi in particular, for the last two years, shows that the duo are the ‘biggest villains’ on the Pakistan cricket horizon. And whatever decision they take is ‘against the interest’ of Pakistan cricket , in fact the duo have ‘ruined’ and are ‘ruining’ and Pakistan cricket beyond repair.

It is really interesting to see these so called opinion makers, including some former cricketers, with their own agendas, are hosting shows, giving lectures, statements and even writing columns on ethics and morality and advocating that the duo should retire or leave the board immediately. This is now really hilarious. May be they consider themselves saints who have never committed any errors, mistakes and blunders in their entire lives or may be they are the pure souls descended straight from heavens. Everyone is entitled to have his or her own opinion. At the same time one should also look into the mirror and judge his or her own conduct, personality and character before giving a damning verdict against others.

Sethi, a renowned journalist, publisher, TV personality, former Marxist, strong administrator and big cricket buff, takes great care in what he says. A political animal to the core, extremely well-read and articulate, Sethi comes across as a man with a ready and vivid set of examples to put forward his point of view, successfully cultivating a reputation of being a rational and neutral observer. His intentions are always clear. What makes Sethi famous as well as ‘notorious’ is the fact that almost ninety percent of the predictions made by Sethi have come true with his well-reasoned analysis! This perhaps has never been digested by his rivals. In venomous attacks on Sethi in the social media and on websites, his bitter rivals accuse him of many things which are beyond comprehension. But Sethi's status as a force on mainstream electronic media remains intact.

Since joining the PCB, Sethi is trying to modernise Pakistan cricket to bring it at par with international standards. His biggest achievements, of course, are cutting a deal with India to lay series with Pakistan (though India backed out), involving former Pakistan super stars like Wasim Akram, Moin Khan, Ramiz Raja and Inzamamul Haq for betterment of Pakistan cricket , and above all, successful hosting of the Pakistan Super League. The idea of Pakistan’s own T20 league emerged during the regime of Dr Nasim Ashraf, who served as the chairman of the PCB between 2007 and 2008. The league was mainly inspired from the now defunct Indian Cricket League (ICL), and the successful Indian Premier League (IPL). However, the idea never materialised. The next chairman, Ijaz Butt, pulled out every hefty project from the system and shelved it, including the T20 league. But a year later, the following chairman, Zaka Ashraf, revived the project by announcing a lucrative business model. However, Zaka also failed to materialise it. It took Sethi nearly five months to blow life into the project. With PCB chairman Shaharyar taking a backseat, the project was left exclusively to Sethi, who successfully conducted it in the United Arab Emirates. Despite harsh criticism and hurdles, Sethi was able to deliver the biggest and most exciting product in Pakistan’s history. The PSL, apart from giving the country’s domestic game a shot in the arm, has made the nation feel good about itself again. It has done more to capture our attention than the seven decades of domestic cricket that preceded it. This is no small achievement.

Sethi confesses that he is a simple fan of cricket and not so well-versed in the technicalities of the game. The Prime Minister, Nawaz Sharif, the PCB patron, took the right decision when he appointed Sethi to cut through the awkward and messy politics of the PCB to once again make it a profitable and well-oiled machine that it once was, especially before foreign teams stopped visiting Pakistan after the 2009 attack on the Sri Lankan squad by extremists. It is not mandatory that the PCB should be run by former cricketers. How many other cricket boards of the world are being managed by cricketers? The PCB needs a strong administrator. And Sethi is not a bad choice, keeping in view his educational and administrative qualifications.

Of course, Sethi's ‘cricket role’ has not gone well with many and generated a new set of critics. Many cricket experts and some former players have accused the Prime Minister of putting a cricketing novice at the head of the board. To be fair, such criticism is sheer jealously on part of the former players, many of whom are very eager to join the PCB bandwagon. This ‘bashing’ hasn’t dented Sethi’s uniqueness as such. He will keep on doing his good work to modernise and take Pakistan cricket forward.