ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan on Wednesday reiterated that the revamped domestic cricket structure will help produce high quality talent in the country which will excel at the international level to take Pakistan cricket to great heights. He also approved of the PTV Sports’ new satellite broadcast deal with the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) which was signed for three years on the occasion.
The PM — who is also the patron in chief of the PCB — was speaking at a press conference here and said that the new domestic cricket structure which is based on regional set up and comprises reduced number of teams (six), will produce world class players and predicted that Pakistani will have a much-improved and different team in the next World Cup.
Earlier, the PM met head coach-cum-chief selector Misbah-ul-Haq, senior all-rounder Mohammad Hafeez and Test captain Azhar Ali over the issue of revival of departments in domestic cricket.
The trio, however, failed to convince the PM who reportedly did not give much weight to their arguments and told them clearly that the new system is in the best interest of country’s cricket.
PCB signs lucrative 3-year broadcasting deal with PTV
In response to criticism over abolishment of the departmental teams, Imran said: “These are teething problems [in the new system]. Whenever new reforms are introduced, such problems arise but the results will be fruitful.”
He said that he had a 40-year wish to change the cricketing system to bring it at par with other countries, but a handful of people with vested interests were against changing the old system which backfired badly.
The PM emphasized that tough competitions always produce best players and with raised standards and introduction of merit, the country will soon be ruling the cricketing world, like Australia, which is world’s most successful team due to their great domestic structure.
The cricketer turned politician, further said that Pakistan is blessed with tremendous cricketing talent which has is no match anywhere in the world. “Despite the haphazard domestic system of decades, somany Pakistani players directly qualified from the clubs to become Test cricketers which testament to the abundance of talent here,” said the PM.
“How talented they were and how much talent country had,” he said and added that there is no such example anywhere in the world. The premier said that he had always argued, if structure of Pakistani cricket is changed, then Pakistan could become unbeatable.
It is relevant to note here, PCB last year amended its constitution to abolish the role of departmental teams from domestic cricket. Under the amended constitution, only six regional teams- Sindh, Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtunkha, Northern, Central Punjab and Southern Punjab — are eligible to participate in Quaid-i-Azam Trophy, the country’s premier first-class event.
Earlier, in his speech at the agreement signing ceremony of the PTV-PCB broadcasting deal, the premier lamented that PTV — which used to be known for its high class productions — could not make much progress for a long long time. He, however, said that with the signing of this new deal with PCB, the state run PTV could do well in the future.
The deal agreement was signed by PCB Chief Executive Wasim Khan and Managing Director PTV Aamer Manzoor.
“The PCB today signed a satellite broadcast deal for broadcast in Pakistan with PTV Sports and a further agreement to secure cable distribution with I-Media Communication Services,” said the press release issued by the PCB after the ceremony. It said that the broadcast deal will be for the 2020-2023 cycle.
The broadcasting arrangement is structured to provide for increasing revenues over the term of the cycle and PCB expects to earn in excess of US$200 million over the next three years.
PCB chairman Ehsan Mani speaking at the occasion thanked the patron for his unwavering support to PCB and the efforts of the Minister for Information Shibli Faraz, Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Information retired Lt General Asim Bajwa and MD PTV in getting the broadcasting arrangement finalised as well as their efforts in the uplift of PTV Sports.
According to the PCB, the broadcast agreement is for Pakistan only while PCB will be soon finalising the grant of its broadcast rights for international territoriesseparately as well as launch a new structure for its digital media rights.
Under the arrangement all Pakistan team’s home series and series involving women’s cricket and junior teams will be broadcast live on PTV Sports.
The PCB said that also for the first time all the major domestic tournaments, including the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy, National T-20 Cup, One-day Pakistan Cup and the National U-19 One-day and National U-19 three-day tournaments, will be broadcast live on PTV Sports and distributed across Pakistan on cable networks.
The PCB further added that for the first time in almost three decades, the broadcasting rights of PCB have been granted exclusively to a Pakistani broadcaster and that too the national broadcaster. “This will maximise the opportunity for cricket fans in Pakistan to watch good competitive cricket almost throughout the year and follow the top cricketers and teams they support in the domestic season,” read the PCB statement.
It said that PCB plans to invest Rs15 billion over the next three years on men and women domestic cricket, including upgrading of stadiums and infrastructure, building provincial academies and centres of excellence, employment of over 100 former cricketers as coaches and managers for the city cricket associations, restarting inter-university cricket, investment in grass roots cricket and improving players’ earning and welfare.