Pakistan cricket must think outside the box, says Raja

Pakistan cricket legend Ramiz Raja was speaking at World Cricket Connects

Ramiz Raja during the MCC World Cricket committee press conference

By Paul Martin

The future of Pakistani cricket will come from thinking outside the box and doing everything possible to bring back bilateral series against India.

That is the view of Ramiz Raja, the former Pakistan captain, who was also chairman of the Pakistan Cricket Board from 2021 to 2022.

Raja was speaking at World Cricket Connects, an event at Lord’s hosted by the Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) designed for the leading voices in the game to discuss the health of cricket and consider the path required for its future success.

The event brought a range of prominent thinkers in cricket together at Lord’s, with players, coaches, broadcasters, franchise owners and administrators all in attendance.

And for Raja, one of the keys for Pakistan’s future will be to ensure the on-field rivalry with India goes beyond meetings at World Cups, with the teams having last faced off in a bilateral series of white-ball cricket in 2012/13, and in Test cricket five years earlier.

He said: “There was interesting conversation. The best thing was you can vent, you didn’t want to be guarded. There was no politics involved and it came from the heart. It was a very good discussion. We got to know viewpoints of all the people who are the stakeholders, behind the camera, in front of the camera, league owners. It was superb.

“When I was the chairman, I used to tell the team all the time, until or unless you beat India or be competitive against them, the world will not recognise you. That is the landmark.

"They did reasonably well for about a year, year and a half. Then the general turbulence that the country is going through is being reflected in the performance of the team. You want to be in the bubble but at times, the players are just not capable of creating that bubble.

“We’ve got to start from scratch and make it happen again.

“Ex-cricketers need to understand the value of an India-Pakistan contest. Fans should not be missing this spectacle.

“It’s our job to say that let’s put politics to one side and play cricket because it will benefit the world. We need a stronger, positive vibe surrounding the issue. The onus is on Indian ex-cricketers and Pakistani ex-cricketers to make it happen.”

A wide range of topics were discussed at World Cricket Connects, with scheduling, growth, the future of Test cricket and much more on the agenda.

For the latter point, Raja believes that ensuring the red-ball format remains the pinnacle of the sport should be a priority of any scheduling decisions.

He added: “You have got to think outside the box. If I were a Pakistan administrator, I would look at triangulars or having regular Test cricket schedule, because right now what is happening is that Test cricket in Pakistan is at best a filler.

“You should build a Test series and put in a filler in the shape of three 50-over matches or three T20s. What is happening now in most of Asia is you have five T20s and one Test match, or five ODIs and no Test matches.

“Scheduling has a lot to do with why Test cricket is being dealt a severe blow in our part of the world. I would look at a proper Test schedule. Play less, maybe, but play proper Test series so it’s given significance.

“We have not had a bilateral series against India for the last 15-20 years and we have survived. We make decent money from PSL (Pakistan Super League).

“It actually made us stronger because we had to look inwards and get the local sponsorship and the local stakeholders interested in our model. We told the team we do not have a lot of resources so the only way you can become a hit is by winning.”