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Ramiz Raja, the right man to bring back Pakistan's cricket glory

rituraj@khaleejtimes.com Filed on August 31, 2021
Ramiz Raja's reputation as a man of integrity started to shine through when he was made the PCB CEO at the turn of the century. (Twitter)

Raja is a one of a kind former cricketer who had shown his credentials as an administrator long before he decided to hang up his boots


How well do you know Ramiz Raja, the man who’s set to become the new Pakistan Cricket Board chairman on September 13? The T20 generation might bring you the image of the suave Pakistani cricket commentator who travels around the world, delivering sharp, witty and dispassionate analysis of the game on your TV screens as well as his YouTube channel, Ramiz Speaks.

The aficionados might recall the final catch he famously took at the Melbourne Cricket Ground in the 1992 World Cup finale to spark widespread celebrations in Pakistan as well as his two centuries in that tournament.

But if you ask Tariq Saeed, a prominent Pakistani cricket broadcaster who was recently in Abu Dhabi to commentate on the Pakistan Super League (PSL), Raja is a one of a kind former cricketer who had shown his credentials as an administrator long before he decided to hang up his boots.

“Ramiz had helped establish the Allied Bank first-class cricket team while he was still an international player. He actually became a head of sports even while playing international cricket. He got players like Aqib Javed, Rashid Latif and he also helped build their hockey team. He got players like Naveed Alam (1994 World Cup winner) to play in that hockey team,” Saeed told Khaleej Times, while dissecting the former Pakistan captain’s ability to lead the country’s cricket board.

“I think he can bring about a very positive change in Pakistan cricket. He is very experienced. And, you know, he will be only the second Pakistan captain after Abdul Hafeez Kardar to lead Pakistan’s cricket board as a full-time chairman. Javed Burki (a former captain) was the chairman of the ad-hoc committee. So it’s a historic moment in Pakistan cricket.”

While the business of Pakistan cricket is often marred by controversy and politics, Raja’s reputation as a man of integrity started to shine through when he was made the PCB CEO at the turn of the century.

“He had a big role in getting the big Ten Sports deal which really helped improve the broadcast quality of home matches in Pakistan cricket. He also brought Bob Woolmer. He was very progressive in that sense,” Saeed recalled.

“Even the NCA (National Cricket Academy), which is now known as the National High-Performance Centre, was the brainchild of Ramiz. He brought in people like Geoffrey Boycott and Greg Chappell for coaching stints at the academy. He had a big role in bringing professional coaches to Pakistan. Not just in terms of players and coaches, Ramiz also helped Aleem Dar and Asad Rauf. Ramiz backed them a lot and eventually, they both became top international umpires.”

Now with Pakistan hoping to bring the top international teams back for high-profile, money-spinning bilateral series, Saeed believes Raja, 59, is the right man to steer the country’s cricket in the right direction.

“It’s great to have a cricketer leading the cricket board. You need educated people for such role and Ramiz, who did MBA during his playing days, fits the bill,” Saeed said.

“I think his biggest advantage is that he knows the cricket politics in Pakistan as well as the international cricket politics. And the other advantage is that age is on his side. At this age, people normally tend to have that fire to deliver. He is energetic and everyone in international cricket boards knows him very well.”

Tauseef Ahmed, Raja’s former Pakistan teammate, agreed with Saeed.

“Ramiz has served the country as a player for 10-15 years and he knows what needs to be done. As you know, after finishing his career, he has become a hugely successful broadcaster, he travels around the world and he has a good relationship with everyone with every cricket board. I think this will really help Pakistan cricket,” said Ahmed, a former national selector whose tenure saw Pakistan’s 2017 ICC Champions Trophy triumph and their rise to the ICC world number one Test ranking.

But Ahmed doesn’t expect any drastic changes under Raja.

“I don’t think there will be big changes immediately after he joins. But I would be keen to see changes in the under 16 and under 19 levels. Change at that level is needed for the health of the game in the country,” he said.

“Look, Ramiz is a strong man, he has been nominated by the Prime Minister (Imran Khan). I am very confident that he will be successful in this job.”

And Qamar Ahmed, an eminent Pakistani cricket writer and a former first-class cricketer, feels Pakistan has found the right man to bring back the glory days.

“Ramiz Raja is an articulate, knowledgeable and educated individual,” Ahmed said. “He has vast experience of the game, he would contribute immensely to uplift the game in Pakistan.”

author

Rituraj Borkakoty

A big fan of the Argentina national football team, Rituraj generally writes on sports. But he deeply cherishes the time he spent with his favourite musician from Assam, India, for an interview. And he loves to bring human interest stories to Khaleej Times readers.





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