Which team will win PSL 8?
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In between speeches, television appearances and book signing events, Imran spoke with about amongst other things, the current state of Pakistan cricket, the seemingly never-ending production line of talent and technology in cricket.

By Saj Sadiq (September 22, 2011)
Pakistan's undoubtedly greatest ever cricketer Imran Khan may not directly be involved in cricket, but there is no question that he still casts a keen eye over all matters to do with Pakistan cricket. Despite his continued work and hectic schedule with his political party Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI), the love of cricket still runs strongly in his veins.

The legendary all-rounder and captain of the 1992 World Cup winning team and a veteran of 273 matches for Pakistan is currently in the UK on a whistle stop tour to mark the launch of his book ‘Pakistan: A Personal History’.

In between speeches, television appearances and book signing events, Imran spoke with about amongst other things, the current state of Pakistan cricket, the seemingly never-ending production line of talent and technology in cricket.

Khan has been a long term critic of the current Pakistan Cricket Board administration and launched another stinging attack on those running cricket matters in Pakistan. He also spoke once again of the need for changes in the domestic setup.

"The aim should be to make Pakistan cricket an institution - this is what needs to be done. Cricket in Pakistan is run on an ad-hoc basis and the reason why it's ad-hoc is because the Chairman of the Cricket Board is appointed by the President of Pakistan and the only qualification of the Chairman is that the President of Pakistan likes him. The Chairman is no longer accountable to anyone as long as the team keeps winning. If the team is winning, the Chairman can then claim that he's succeeding and if the team loses then he changes the captain and that is why we get so many frequent changes in captaincy. Pakistan cricket needs to be democratic and it should have elected Associations and no place for sponsors. No sponsors should be able to field their team. This only happens in Pakistan, nowhere else does this happen."

"So this is where the problem starts and what Pakistan cricket needs is to have 6-8 regional teams and it needs to have elected regional cricket Boards and then elect a Chairman who is accountable to the Council and they have a professional chief executive which is basically what happens in Australia and England and other countries, rather than this ridiculous system where they have departments and sponsors like PIA who have representation on the cricket board and are not elected but instead are appointees of the sponsors and so the whole system is distorted. That's why we cannot be consistent and polish our talent and that's why we cannot produce consistently good teams despite the enormous talent in Pakistan."

Controversy never seems to be too far away in Pakistan cricket, with player versus board issues a regular occurrence over the years, especially in recent times with a number of high profile players having run-ins with the Board for one reason or another. Khan though lays the blame firmly at the door of the Pakistan Cricket Board and its dictatorial methods.

"The problems are largely due to the fact that Pakistan cricket is run on an ad-hoc basis, so the Chairman of the Cricket Board basically becomes a dictator and can do all he wants, because he has not really been appointed through any process and has just been appointed by the President and so therefore you have lots of problems when you have flawed decision-making because there is no institution. All you have is one man making all the decisions for the board. Depending on whom he consults, he can make a mess of it. Usually Pakistan Cricket Boards have been dysfunctional."

Waqar Younis is the latest in a long line of coaches who have found the role of coaching the Pakistan cricket team a stressful and difficult assignment. Whilst the Pakistan Cricket Board looks for a worthy successor to Waqar, Imran urged caution in respect of the impact a coach can have on his team.

"I think too much time and effort is spent and wasted on who the coach should be. Coaches basically have very limited ability to help a team and I don't understand this obsession with coaches, because basically Australia was not the best team because of their coach, they were the best team because they were a great team and they had a good domestic cricket structure which kept on throwing up good players and they had a good quality captain."

"If a coach was such a big thing then Zimbabwe or Bangladesh or one of the other weaker teams could just have a good coach and he could transform the team. It cannot work like that. Yes, a captain can play a major role but not a coach. I always find that people do not understand that cricket is perhaps the only game that needs leadership and that needs a captain who needs to be a leader."

"In no other sport other than cricket does a captain have such an important role and they keep on confusing cricket with football. Then you have coaches trying to justify their salaries by having computers and other technical gadgets and trying to look useful. Which coach has really made that much difference? As far as I am concerned, yes a coach who is very bright who understands the game and understands different strategies can help the captain. But more than that if the captain is useless, whatever the coach does, he can't do anything as the coach cannot go on the field and play the game on behalf of the captain. It's the captain who matters, not the coach."

The influence of the Board of Cricket Control of India (BCCI) has raised a few eyebrows amongst former players and several have voiced their concerns on the domination that the BCCI has over world cricket. Responding to a question about the current role of the BCCI in modern day cricket, Khan stated that he wasn't comfortable with one board having so much influence on the running of the game.

"I certainly didn't understand the BCCI's stance on the wonderful system of the referral which I think is a very positive step forward, yet the BCCI vetoed it which I felt was wrong, especially when the majority of cricketers felt it was a great innovation. Yet one board decides to veto it and I don't agree with that. I don't agree with that as I believe in democracy and I don't think that one board should have that much clout, just like in the old days when England and Australia had all the clout."

As a high quality pace bowler, Imran's test career spanned more than 20 years with 362 wickets in 88 test matches at an average of just over 22.81 - statistics that compare with any of the all time great fast bowlers. Given his knowledge of fast bowling, there could be no one better to talk to about cricketing talent in Pakistan and whether this production line of talented cricketers will continue.

"Pakistan probably has more cricketing talent than any other country in the world. Consistently it produces the most talented cricketers. Pakistan's problem is not the lack of talent, it is rather not having a cricket system that polishes this talent.”

Imran's political aspirations have seen him resist the temptation to return to cricket in any capacity, although many cricket lovers around the world still have that hope that one day Imran will be seen at the helm of Pakistan cricket.

However when asked if Pakistan cricket fans will see him involved in Pakistan cricket at some point in the future, the response which will break the hearts of millions around the world was an emphatic, "No!"
Audio Link to full interview: