Pakistan’s cricket board underwent further turmoil on Saturday after the Islamabad High Court suspended a management committee appointed by the prime minister and reinstated Zaka Ashraf as its chief.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had sacked Ashraf on Feb. 10 and appointed a committee chaired by Najam Sethi to oversee cricketing matters. Saturday’s order meant all decisions taken by Sethi are now null and void—including the appointments of head coach Waqar Younis and Zimbabwean batting coach Grant Flower.
It is the third time Ashraf has been reinstated since May last year.
Judge Noorul Haq Qureshi heard around 25 petitions from the employees of the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) who were sacked by Sethi, and read out his decision in the court. Ashraf’s lawyer Karim Kundi said the court decided to revert to the situation of Feb. 10.
“The notification of Feb. 10 has been struck down as null and void as it was illegal, and as natural consequences Ashraf and other board staff who were superseded by the order are reinstated,” said Kundi.
Ashraf hailed Saturday’s decision. “This is a win for Pakistan cricket,” Ashraf told journalists. “I will try to correct the wrong things in Pakistan cricket and do whatever is good for Pakistan cricket.”
Sethi said he was waiting for the court’s written orders. “I am waiting for the court’s orders and it will be up to the government to appeal where they want,” he said. “The instability in the PCB is not good for cricket.”
The Ministry of Inter-Provincial Coordination, which oversees sporting matters in the country, is likely to challenge the decision next week.
The same Islamabad court had suspended Ashraf in May last year, ruling his election “dubious.” Sethi was appointed PCB chairman in June. Ashraf appealed against the decision and was reinstated on Jan. 15 this year, before Sharif again sacked him a month later.
The frequent changes have made Pakistan the laughing stock of international cricket. The Supreme Court earlier this year refrained from taking the case ahead, suggesting that the government has the authority to initiate changes within the PCB.