Ramiz Raja speaks during a press conference in Lahore on Monday. Courtesy PCB
Tariq Butt, Correspondent / AP
Former captain and renowned commentator Ramiz Raja on Monday became the new chairman of the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) after being elected unanimously and unopposed.
A special meeting of the PCB's Board of Governors was held at the National High Performance Centre in Lahore to elect the cricketing body's 36th chairman, a PCB statement said.
Supreme Court former judge Justice (retd) Sheikh Azmat Saeed conducted the election and presided over the special meeting.
The 59-year-old Raja is the only fourth former Pakistan international cricketer to head the cricket board. Abdul Hafeez Kardar, Javed Burki and Ijaz Butt are the others. "I am thankful to all of you for electing me as the PCB chairman and look forward to working with you to ensure Pakistan cricket continues to thrive and grow stronger, both on and off-the-field," Raja was quoted as telling the other board members in the PCB release.
"One of my key focuses will be to help introduce in the Pakistan men’s cricket team the same culture, mindset, attitude and approach that once made Pakistan one of the most feared cricket playing nations. As an organisation, we all need to get behind the national team and provide them the desired assistance and support so that they can produce that brand of cricket, which the fans also expect from them each time they step on to the field of play.
"Obviously, as a former cricketer, my other priority will be to look into the welfare of our past and present cricketers. The game has and will always be about the cricketers and, as such, they deserve more recognition and respect from their parent institution,” Raja said.
He replaces Ehsan Mani, who completed his three-year tenure last month. Raja and Asad Ali Khan were the two nominees of PCB’s patron-in-chief Prime Minister Imran Khan.
Last month, Imran Khan, in his role as patron of the PCB, nominated Raja to the governing board. He was unanimously elected during a meeting in Lahore.
Imran and Raja were teammates on the 1992 World Cup squad that beat England in the final.
Raja scored 2,833 runs in 57 test matches and 5,841 runs in 198 ODIs before quitting in 1997. He also served as chief executive of the PCB but established his name more when he took up commentary and became the "voice of Pakistan.”
Raja's first goal is to see Pakistan beat India in its opening T20 World Cup game on Oct. 24. Pakistan has never beaten India in a World Cup game, either in the 50-over or T20 format, losing all six matches.
"It’s a show-stopper, there’s no doubt about that,” Raja said about the India game. "When I talked to the cricket team I told them that this time we have to turn the tables.”
Raja backed the Pakistan team announced for the T20 World Cup in which experienced opening batsman Fakhar Zaman and leg-spinner Usman Qadir were not named in a 15-member squad but will travel with the team as reserves.
"The national side has the potential to win the World Cup and we need to back the side selected for the global event,” he said. "Pakistan cricket’s DNA consists of fearlessness, and we need to define a proper model and provide clarity to achieve desired results.”
Raja also backed the domestic cricket structure in which only six teams participate in first-class tournaments. He also announced an increase of Rs100,000 ($600) a month in the contracts of 192 domestic cricketers. "It is our duty to care for our cricketers and continue to take measures which strengthen our system,” he said.
"This will also play a role in ending any uncertainty surrounding the current cricket structure. The welfare of present and former cricketers is paramount to me.”
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