The Supreme Court on Wednesday restored Najam Sethi as the country’s cricket chief, four days after he was ousted by a lower court, the latest twist in a legal saga dogging the game.
The court suspended a ruling by the Islamabad High Court on Saturday that had removed Sethi, annulled all decisions made under his management and reinstated Zaka Ashraf to the post. Saturday’s ruling had thrown the appointment of new head coach Waqar Younis, batting coach Grant Flower and spin coach Mushtaq Ahmed, all made under Sethi, into doubt.
Court orders and government decrees have now seen the leadership of the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) change hands between Sethi and Ashraf five times in the past year. The musical chairs have come at a time when cricket’s world governing body is undergoing major changes, leading many to fear Pakistan’s interests are not being properly represented.
In February the government—Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is PCB patron—installed an 11-member committee headed by Sethi to run the board temporarily. The aim was for the committee to draw up changes to the PCB constitution to make it more democratic and hold elections for the post of chairman—and thereby bring an end to the battles in the courts.
This plan was thrown into disarray by Saturday’s ruling but Wednesday’s Supreme Court order means all the decisions taken by Sethi are now valid.
Sethi, a veteran journalist who also served as caretaker chief minister of Punjab before last year’s general elections, insisted had no desire to run the PCB long-term. “I have no interest to keep this post for a long time,” he said. “We have drafted a democratic constitution of the PCB which, as soon as endorsed by the government, will allow us to hold elections of the PCB.”
Sethi has said he wants to hold elections for the board and chairman by June 9.
The chairmanship has been a topic of controversy ever since the cricket board’s inception in 1948. The ruling political party of the day in the cricket-crazy country generally gives the post to one of its supporters.