Pakistan Cricket Board chairman Ehsan Mani has backed the national team coach Mickey Arthur and skipper Sarfraz Ahmed despite a poor show in the longest format against New Zealand and recently against South Africa in the first Test and hoped that the young side would develop further.

Talking to Cricingif from South Africa, where he is on tour to reportedly convince Cricket South Africa to play a cricket series in Pakistan this year, Mani said unequivocally backed Sarfraz: “He is the Pakistan captain. I don’t think there is anything further to say on that.”

After the Asia Cup debacle in September where they were defeated twice by India, almost fell to Afghanistan and were eventually knocked out by Bangladesh, Pakistan bounced back against Australia in Test and T20I series. They continued good form in the limited-overs leg of New Zealand series as well but faced defeat in the Tests.

“Pakistan did well against Australia in the Test matches. We should have beaten New Zealand 3-0,” Mani added.

“It’s the collective approach of the players that matters. These things will come good. We’ll have to be patient. This is a young side. It will develop further, no doubt. I have confidence in both Mickey Arthur and Sarfraz.”

Restructuring the PCB

Since becoming the PCB chairman, Mani has vowed to restructure the board management and the overall affairs of the board.

“Under the PCB constitution, the chairman is also the CEO. This is complete nonsense,” said Mani.

“No other cricket board in the world has this as a joint role. The roles of these two persons are totally different. The chairman heads the board. He prepares the policies and statements, which then the management through the chief executive implements.”

Mani was all praises of Wasim Khan, who will be leaving the current post of CEO of Leicestershire county to join the PCB as managing director in February 2019.

“Wasim is an exceptional person. Not only does he know cricket, but he has also played first-class cricket.”

“He has run a county [Leicestershire], and he is involved in the ECB at a lot of different levels. He has cricket and administration experience right across the board. And with an educational background in business, we are very fortunate that someone like him is prepared to come forward, be prepared to give up everything in England, take a salary cut and come to Pakistan.”

As was the case with the previous managements, the case of domestic cricket is expected to be a major aspect of the reforms. Mani didn’t delve into the details but asserted to make the whole structure competitive. “We want all current stakeholders, including the departments and their players to be involved. We are working on a model, which has two senior members of the departments, including Lt Gen (retd) Muzammil Hussain, chairman WAPDA, and a representative from KRL. We have also got regions involved in this task force.

“The ultimate objective is to have a structure that is competitive. There is no point in having 32 teams playing cricket at the highest level – the first-class and the tier under that – and not being able to produce the cricketers we need. Our grassroots cricket has been neglected. The PCB today has to run school cricket, club cricket and district cricket. This is not a sustainable model. It’s the regions who have to take charge and run this. The departments already have management skills. We are all going to work together to produce cricketers for Pakistan in a sustainable way.”

Over the past few seasons, the PCB has come under criticism over umpiring, sub-standard pitches, and the scheduling of the domestic season but hardly anything has changed. But Mani is hopeful that once the things are in place, there will be accountability at every level.

“If you have your systems in place properly, if you have your structure, there will be automatic accountability. What you have at the moment is a very ad hoc system.”

BCCI-PCB legal dispute

Commenting on the recent BCCI-PCB dispute, which the ICC ruled in favour of the former and also asked the latter to pay 60 per cent of the legal fee incurred by the Indian board, Mani was pragmatic.

“The PCB took legal advice, and it was quite favourable for them. They acted on it in good faith; I do not doubt. But it doesn’t help in future relations when one member is effectively suing another member. How do you move forward from there and leave it behind? It is a matter of building bridges and moving forward.

“Three highly respected arbitrators looked at the case, and they took a view which did not help Pakistan, which is unfortunate. We are obviously disappointed with the decision, but we have to move on.”