Wasim Khan, the PCB chief executive, has admitted he is undecided about his future in the position beyond his initial term.
While there is more than a year to run on Wasim’s original three-year contract – it is due to expire in February 2022 – and talks have begun on a new deal, he has asked for time before committing.
PCB chairman Ehsan Mani is understood to have suggested another three-year deal, but Wasim has said he is considering all term options. He will provide an answer in February 2021.
Taking on the role at a turbulent time, Wasim has enjoyed some success in improving Pakistan’s status as a venue that is safe and welcoming for touring teams.
On his watch, this year’s PSL has been played at home in its entirety for the first time, while Test cricket has also returned to the country. His personal relationship with key figures at other boards is understood to have been instrumental in this progress, with South Africa due to tour in January 2021 and Australia and England due to follow in 2022.
Hopes also remain high of a short T20 tour by England to Karachi in January 2021, with a couple of first-class counties – Warwickshire and Leicestershire – exploring the possibility of pre-season tours to the country in the coming years. Zimbabwe are currently in Pakistan playing six limited-overs games.
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But there has also been controversy. There have, for example, been radical changes to the domestic structure – changes foisted upon the administration by the Prime Minister and board patron, Imran Khan – which has reduced the number of teams and resulted in the unemployment of a considerable number of players and coaches.
The cull has proven unpopular with players who have, in many cases, seen reductions in their earnings. Recently, Misbah-ul-Haq, Mohammad Hafeez and Azhar Ali met with the Prime Minister to ask for a change, a request that was summarily dismissed.
That, as well as a few other board decisions – coupled with a transitionary period in terms of results off the field – has led to some very vocal criticism, focused on Wasim. Plenty of it has revolved around him being an “outsider” with no knowledge of Pakistan culture, as well as his salary.
Wasim was born in the UK – he became the first UK-born Muslim of Pakistan origin to play county cricket – to a father who had been born in Pakistan-administered Kashmir.
While Wasim describes himself as “relaxed” about such criticism from a personal perspective, he is sensitive to the impact it has had on his family. In particular, he was concerned by the derogatory comments about him that his children have had to hear, partly as a result of which his family have moved back to the their home in Birmingham.
“It’s been an eye-opening experience,” Wasim told ESPNcricinfo. “The encouraging thing is that the overwhelming majority of people have been very supportive and understand what we are trying to achieve and that there had to be change.
“But there has been a vocal minority that have made life more difficult than it needed to be. Clearly, I have to make a decision that is right for Pakistan cricket but also my family. But it does feel as if we’ve made great progress and I would like to see the job through.
“With a year remaining on my contract, the chairman has spoken with me and begun a discussion offering me an extension up to three years. I haven’t decided yet about anything. This is a big decision, I don’t have a straight answer to this. I have to think through and have to speak to my family about it.
“I am thoroughly enjoying my job and have achieved a lot,” he added. “There is a five-year strategic plan and Mani saab wants me to execute it. There is a lot of work we have started that needs to be executed. We are about to start working on our 2023 FTP cycle and that will be a major task going forward. We are also going to bid for ICC events so there is an exciting time ahead and I want to consider an extension, but I am not sure about how many years.”
The situation is complicated by uncertainty over the future of Mani. The PCB chairman’s tenure is due to end in September 2021 and though he could be appointed for another term, it isn’t certain that he wants to, although he has not confirmed this.
There’s been talk of Wasim Akram, who remains close to Imran Khan, as one potential option – Akram is a member of the board’s cricket committee but is also generally busy with a number of broadcast and commercial commitments. With chief executive and chairman required to work together closely, the identify of Mani’s replacement – if one is required – may colour Wasim Khan’s decision.
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