Organisers, cricketers question PCB’s plan to charge clubs

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LAHORE: Cricketers and some club organisers including former Test cricketer Shafqat Rana and Azhar Zaidi have expressed their reservations over the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) plan of increasing the expenditure budget of the clubs organisers under its new constitution of 2019.

Shafqat in his earlier statement had said that he would close down his club in protest against PCB’s new policy for the clubs. In response to that, PCB’s Director of National High Performance Centre Nadeem Khan tried to clarify on Friday in a presser by saying that the PCB would not earn a single rupee from the club organisers as all the funds (approximately around Rs 23 crores) to be collected through the club registration and by holding elections of the clubs, will be returned back to the respective city cricket association which are yet to be formed.

However, Shafqat commenting on Nadeem’s response, said on Saturday: “They (PCB) must not charge club cricket. They should leave it up to the City Associations to charge them or not charge them at all and the PCB must withdraw these heavy registration fees and any other charges from an interested candidate contesting the elections of the club.”

He said the PCB, after keeping the grassroots cricket (club, city, regional, departmental) unattended for the last two years, had already damaged it and now its new model constitution for the clubs would further damage it.

Azhar Zaidi, head of P&T Gymkhana Club and a prominent cricket organiser, said that club cricket is the real nursery at the grassroots level and has produced many star cricketers for Pakistan team.

“I have been associated with club cricket for the last 50 years. Any cricketer, who appears in any trials at the PCB or at any other level, is trained by clubs. So it is the basic unit. Many cricketers who are sitting in the PCB have also been produced by one club or another.

“I am running P&T Gymkhana and anybody is most welcome to go and ask the boys what I am charging from them. We are serving the cricketers with no interest and producing the players for the PCB,” he argued.

“A few days ago, I met Nadeem Khan and asked him that since he knows everything about the importance of club cricket, it should be promoted. Yes, the PCB can surely point out the bogus clubs in business and those who are charging players extra money and ban them, but it should also help out generously those who are serving Pakistan cricket without personal interest,” he said.

“Every club pays from its own to book ground, provide lunch and to bear other expenses for playing any match or to run the nets so the expenditures are raising every day and the PCB should come out with a suitable policy to reduce the burden on the club cricket,” Azhar said.

Hafiz Shahbaz, the organiser of Gold Star Club, said the shutdown on club cricket for the last two years had already caused a great deal of damage to cricket as many cricketers have not returned to join the club. “The PCB should provide maximum facilities to club cricketers,” said Hafiz. “It is a simple theory that if the expenditure of a club increases the organiser either will increase the burden on cricketers or he will go to search for a short-cut, which will damage the cricket.”

Moreover, many club cricketers namely Kashif Ali, Ali Hussain, M Navid, Mir Saeed and Tayyab Tahir also expressed their reservations over the new policy of the PCB about club cricket and said the Board should come out with a generous plan to help out clubs as already two years had been wasted of the club cricket.

They said since many cricketers had also lost their jobs in different departments after the PCB disaffiliated them, the game now had less attraction for cricketers.