LONDON - In the end, there wasn’t much of a choice to be made. Presented with two fantastic job opportunities - managing director of the PCB or managing director of England’s men’s teams - Wasim Khan found himself dreaming only about one of them.

The England job paid significantly more. It was probably more straightforward, too. Yes, sorting out England’s centre of excellence in Loughborough may be demanding. But it’s a great deal easier than improving the relationship between the PCB and the BCCI (maybe that should read “between Pakistan and India”) and overseeing a return of high-profile international cricket to Pakistan. The England job didn’t involve his wife giving up her job or his children leaving their schools, either.

But the heart wants what it wants. And the more Wasim thought about his options, the clearer his mind became. “My friends noticed that, when I talked about the Pakistan role, I was much more animated and excited,” Wasim says. “I knew they were both great opportunities. But the chance to make a positive contribution to Pakistan was overwhelming. It’s my passion. It’s been my passion for years.”

So Wasim withdrew from the ECB process after the first round of interviews - he was all but assured of a second interview - and accepted the Pakistan job. While he briefly considered commuting weekly from Birmingham - there are daily flights to Lahore - he concluded it was important to demonstrate his commitment by moving. He will arrive in February, with his wife and two daughters, aged 11 and 9, following at the end of the academic year in July. All are said to be relishing the opportunity. It is, at present, a three-year deal.

Mervyn King, the former governor of the Bank of England, identified leadership skills that saw him installed as CEO of the Cricket Foundation - the organisation that runs the Chance to Shine charity - for the best part of a decade, before he was appointed as Leicestershire’s chief executive in October 2014 - making him the first non-white CEO of a first-class county. He led the club to financial profits in his first three years in charge (though they will declare a loss this year) and oversaw some progress on the pitch.

But then, in September, Wasim emailed Ehsan Mani - whom he had never met - to congratulate him on his appointment as PCB chairman and offer his services. Within days, the pair had met for coffee, which led to an invite to apply for the role of PCB MD (to be changed to CEO following constitutional changes) in the coming weeks. There were 350 applications but, following interviews, Wasim was offered the job.

He might not have accepted, he says, had it not been for his confidence in those around him. He has great faith in Mani and PCB COO, Subhan Ahmed. He is also clearly a staunch supporter of Imran Khan, now the country’s Prime Minister and who endorsed his appointment. “We all want to professionalise and improve the game,” he says. “I know that with people involved of that calibre, I will have the support to take tough decisions if necessary. I wouldn’t have taken the job if I didn’t have those people around me. I’m confident we can together improve the perception of the PCB around the world.”

Imran and Wasim are yet to meet, though. Well, not properly, anyway. “On that 1982 tour, I learned where the team were staying,” Wasim says. “So I blagged a trip with someone I knew who was taking photographs at a dinner and remember going up to Imran, tapping him on the arm and offering a handshake. He looked at me, nodded and turned back to the people he was with.” So Wasim’s passion for the role should not be doubted. But lots of people can offer enthusiasm. If he is to make a success of this position, he will have to turn that into something more tangible. “I think there are three or four areas on which I will be judged,” he says. “The first is restructuring domestic cricket in Pakistan, the second is seeing a return of more high-profile fixtures - particularly international fixtures - to the country and the third is rationalising the headcount at the PCB. Those are some of my main areas of focus.”

Each of them is a mighty undertaking. And in both cutting the headcount of the PCB - currently understood to be around 900 - and restructuring domestic cricket, probably along regional grounds, he is likely to make a significant number of enemies. “I’m not making decisions now,” he says. “I’m not informed enough. But I don’t doubt the contribution of many people and many organisations and I don’t doubt that many of them will continue to play a part in the future. I want us to start with a vision of what we want domestic cricket to achieve. Then, once we have done that, we will decide what areas we need to improve or change in order to deliver that vision. Having a system whereby you move away from cricketers who play for Pakistan to a system which develops and nurtures Pakistan cricketers, is a subtle but important change in thinking. I will start by listening. And we won’t be throwing the baby out with the bathwater. But just because things have always been done in a certain way and just because some attitudes are entrenched does not mean change wouldn’t be beneficial.”

He is positive about bringing more international cricket back to Pakistan. “A lot of the problem is a perception issue,” he says. “I think some people expect Lahore to be a dusty and dry city where people live in ruins and there are security issues on a daily basis. It’s obviously nothing like that. It has a café culture. It has all the shops and restaurants you would expect to see in any major international city and it has been largely incident free for a while now. Yes, there are challenges. But we have seen incidents in London and Paris, too, and few people have suggested we stop playing sport as a consequence.”

A first step will be inviting Australia to play in Pakistan in March. They are currently scheduled to play a five-match ODI series in the UAE but Wasim hopes the conversations that Mani has already started with Australia might persuade them to play at least a couple of games in Pakistan. There is also talk of inviting Leicestershire to come on pre-season - an arrangement that would require sponsorship from the PCB - and a potential tour from an MCC team in the near future. England are next due in late 2022.

“I need to sit down with other boards and ask them: where are the gaps in our plans that worry you?,” he says. “What can we do to assure you? I want to hear what concerns they have and find a way of meeting them. If we can get more foreign players coming to Pakistan more often, hopefully we can normalise playing in the country again.“

As things stand, there will be eight games in the next PSL played in Pakistan. We hope the number of foreign players coming to Pakistan will gradually increase and they will pass on their positive experiences to their team-mates. I want to sit down with my counterpart at the BCCI and see if I can improve that relationship,” he adds. “But the complications go far beyond cricket and will require changes in thinking. I’d like to see Pakistan players welcomed into the IPL, though. That would be a big step.”