LAHORE - Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) Chairman Ehsan Mani has said he aims to make the cricket board ‘a more professional organisation’.

“I want to make the PCB into a professional organisation run by professional people. These kind of people will help us run smoothly. This can only help the board. We aim to make the PCB into an organisation that others aspire to follow,” said the PCB chief while addressing the press conference here at the PCB headquarters on Sunday. “

The 73-year-old also talked up the credentials of Wasim Khan, the board’s new managing director. “Wasim was involved in a superb grassroots development initiative in the UK as its CEO,” said Mani. “Thousands of schoolchildren, including girls, were introduced to cricket by Wasim. That is the kind of development that we want to have over here.”

Wasim was superb with Leicester and has commercial knowledge as well, added Mani. “He is a graduate of the Warwick University, which is one of the finest business schools in the world.” Mani also thanked Wasim for accepting the role. “What can be a bigger endorsement for Pakistan cricket that someone like Wasim has joined us,” said Mani. “What we are paying him is much less than what he was making there but he wanted to help cricket here. He is recognised by the UK government and has been rewarded an MBE, so it’s great that someone like that has come to Pakistan to serve.”

Wasim himself revealed that he had taken a paycut to take on the role as its Managing Director. “I have always supported Pakistan. I was in the stands when we won the Champions Trophy in England. I want to This is where my loyalty lies; if I wanted comfort and security then I would have stayed in England but I wanted this challenge.

The new managing director vowed to improve cricket in schools and at the domestic level. “This is not an easy task,” he admitted. “There will be a lot of challenges. The current system is absolutely embedded in our cricket but it not strong. We are looking for a long-term and sustainable solution rather than a short-term one. We want to plan and think before we come up with a solution. Working with the PCB is a privilege for me, not an entitlement.”

Wasim added that he is here for the long haul. “My contract is only for three years but my family is shifting with me to Pakistan,” he said. “I want to be here for much longer than that and help the country.”

There are fears that a lot of cricketers will face the axe as the PCB aims to cut down on the number of teams in the country, with many believing the huge number of teams is hampering competition. However, Mani revealed a plan is being made for such cricketers.

“There is a plan being made for such cricketers, especially the senior ones,” said the board chairman. “The cricketers that won’t make the cut will be kept within the system and in the sport. These cricketers and their knowledge will be used to help improve the domestic system further.”

Wasim promised no short-term solutions and said that time is required. “First we will make a strategy and then we will align the structure with it, rather than making a structure first and then aligning our strategy according to it.”

The PCB managing director said bringing Test-playing teams to the country remains his top priority, as he reiterated the need to revive international cricket here. “We are targetting Test-playing nations. T20 cricket alone cannot achieve the goal of restoring international cricket here,” he said.

About revival of Pakistan-India bilateral cricket series, Wasim said that while the board was trying all it could, it may be time for a new strategy. “It’s a massive challenge. And I don’t think we’re going to see any solutions anytime soon. I think elections are going on in India, so nothing is going to happen in near future. But, we are trying and PCB chairman Ehsan Mani is also trying hard to get them to the table and get this moving but we got to have pride in our country.

“We keep on asking them to play us but let’s create a situation where they ask us to play. I think we need to do that. It’s sad that we are not playing against them but life continues and world goes on. We need to move forward and carry on. We can’t wait forever to play India. Our focus is to develop Pakistan cricket and get our team and players success at international level,” he added.