Sethi wants Aamir’s ban trimmed down

LAHORE - Acting chairman Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) Najam Sethi on Monday said that he would ask the International Cricket Council (ICC) to trim down a five-year ban against promising fast bowler M Aamir for spot-fixing. 
Sethi is scheduled to attend the ICC board meeting in England later this week where he plans to raise the issue of Aamir's ban. “Aamir is a great star and I will try to make the ICC understand that he is a young cricketer and he has already served two-and-a-half years of his ban," Sethi said while speaking at the press conference held here at the Gaddafi Stadium.
Aamir is banned until September 2015 for bowling deliberate no-balls during a Test match against England in 2010. The left-arm fast bowler pleaded guilty and did not appeal against the ban. Appeals by his teammates, M Asif and Salman Butt were rejected by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).
Sethi, a 65-year-old journalist who was also interim Punjab chief minister during a recent general election campaign, replaced Zaka Ashraf after the latter was suspended on charges of being dubiously elected.
He said soon after taking the responsibility as an acting PCB chief, he received so many calls from his close ones. “While my friends and well wishers were greeting me on becoming PCB acting chief, few of them have also asked me not to forget their sons or relatives while selecting the national team. The good thing about me is that I mostly give deaf ear to such trivial matters and I also told them that I didn’t have any interference in selection of the national team.”
He said Pakistan’s representation in the ICC meeting was necessary and he would soon leave for London with COO Subhan Ahmed while Director Intikhab Alam was already present in London.
Sethi said the squad for the upcoming tour of the West Indies would be announced later this week. Pakistan will play five one-day and two Twenty20 internationals in the Caribbean next month. “I have detailed meeting with selection committee and discussed about the whole scenario. I have asked them to select the team with their own choice. I will not intervene in the selection as the head of the PCB, however, the selection committee, captain, vice captain, manager and coach will have to take credit for a win and responsibility in case of defeat,” he added.
He said the selectors also discussed about finalisation of the U-19 squad for the tri-nation series to be held in England. “The U-19 team will be finalised soon after my return from England after attending the ICC meeting.”
He said efforts would have to be made to explore means of earnings and cut expenses of the PCB. He added the PCB budget for the next year was to be prepared before June 30. Speaking to the PCB Chief Financial Officer (CFO), he requested an overview of last year’s budget expenditure hoping to learn from the past, trim the expenditure where possible and increase revenue streams in the coming year.
“I have discussed the last year’s budget with CFO while Subhan Ahmad has also briefed me about it. We will ponder over what the cricket board has achieved and what is yet to achieve so keeping in mind all these things, we will announce the next budget. It will be our top priority to reduce our expenditures and tight our belts as far as the expenses of the board are concerned.”
The acting PCB chief promised accountability over any failings of the national team following their dismal show in the Champions Trophy where they lost all the three matches. "I want to stress that in future, the captain, coach, vice captain and the selection committee will be held accountable in case, the team fails in any event,” he said.
International cricket has been suspended in Pakistan since militants attacked the Sri Lankan team bus in Lahore in March 2009, forcing the national team to play their home matches on neutral venues.
Sethi said events such as Saturday's killing of 10 foreign climbers in the north made it difficult to bring international cricket back to the country and said this was a task for a permanent chairman.
Justifying his appointment as an acting PCB chairman, Sethi said: “The Prime Minister of Pakistan discussed with me in detail about this post. Before talking about cricket, he was in very serious mood but when we it came to cricket, he became very passionate and asked me to take this responsibility. I was not interested but he convinced me to do as he cliamed that if I was not a Prime Minister then I would surely be a PCB chief. I discussed about my reservations regarding my TV show but I was assured that I would be allowed to continue both simaltaneously, therefore, I agreed to accept?this responsibility. Now, I will try my best to work for the betterment of the PCB.”
 Replying to a question, Sethi said: “If we commit mistake, we will surely accept them. So everyone has to work on merit and purely for the benefit of the board and for the promotion of cricket. Those, who have been serving the board as ghost workers, will either have to work honestly or they will be shown the door.”

Azhar Khan is an accomplished senior sports journalist with extensive experience in the field. He can be reached at Follow him on Twitter at @azharmasood786

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