Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chairman Najam Aziz Sethi on Monday stepped down from his lucrative post after failing to get ‘positive response’ and ‘vote of confidence’ from Prime Minister Imran Khan, the patron of the PCB. Minutes later, the Prime Minister tweeted that he had nominated former International Cricket Council (ICC) president Ehsan Mani as the new chairman. With the arrival of Imran, speculations were rife that this was the end of the road for Sethi as PCB chairman. Primarily because of former World Cup winning captain’s long association with the game and the political bitterness that still exists between Sethi and him. Sethi hinted many a time that he wanted a ‘positive response’ and ‘vote of confidence’ from Imran to continue as head of the PCB. But that never came. Sethi’s resignation was no surprise. It was written all over the wall. It has become more like a tradition that whenever there is a change in the federal government, there is a change in the PCB also. Prime precedents are here of Dr Nasim Ashraf, Ijaz Butt and Zaka Ashraf. Sethi, who was nominated to the PCB Board of Governors by former Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif from 2014-2017 and then again from 2017-2020 by former Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, said he wanted to make way for the new PM to implement his vision for Pakistan cricket. In his resignation, a copy of which is with Daily Times, Sethi said he was elected unanimously “by all ten members of the Board of Governors for a three-year term ending in 2020”. He added: “I believed I have served the cause of cricket diligently.” Furthermore, he threw the ball in Imran’s court by saying: “You have said on many occasions that you have a vision for Pakistan cricket. Therefore, it is only proper that you should assume charge and responsibility for assembling a management team for the PCB that enjoys your full confidence and trust.” Sethi concluded with the words: “In order to facilitate your objectives in the interest of Pakistan cricket, I hereby submit my resignation as chairman of PCB and member of its Board of Governors.”Sethi was appointed PCB chairman for his last, unbroken stint in 2017, but had previously served as PCB chairman in 2013 and 2014. That was a period marred by a power struggle between him and then PCB chairman Zaka Ashraf; the pair swapped positions several times before Sethi finally consolidated his control at the helm of the PCB. Many are of the view that both in the national sphere and the sporting arena the root of our dilemma is the notorious system of patronage and imposed cronies, to the exclusion of merit and professionalism. Under the powerful patron’s benevolent gaze, the pick and choose appointees can survive scandals and failures that would crush an ordinary mortal. When Sethi was given reins of Pakistan cricket, majority was of the view that the sport, which is a binding force, adds to national unity and is the identity of Pakistan globally, would be doomed. Sethi took it as a challenge. He had an opportunity of making an impact — an impact that could transform Pakistan cricket’s promised future into a tangible future. And he was triumphant. The achievements of Sethi and his endeavours to take Pakistan cricket forward have been impressive. Sethi was the de facto ruler in the organisation for much of his predecessor Shaharyar Khan’s tenure, where he served as the head of the PCB executive committee. Most visibly, he also served as the chairman of the Pakistan Super League, Pakistan’s international T20 franchise competition. It is arguably what he’ll most prominently be remembered for, particularly since the competition is also viewed as the gateway towards the return of international cricket to Pakistan. The 2017 PSL final was held in Lahore, and the 18 months since have seen a trickle of matches played in Pakistan’s two major cities, Lahore and Karachi. Sethi hired foreign coach Mickey Arthur under whom the national team won the ICC Champions Trophy in 2017 and shooting up the global rankings to become the number one team in T20 internationals, cricket’s shortest format. Of course, Sethi’s ‘cricket role’ had not gone well with many and generated a new set of critics. To be fair, such criticism was sheer jealousy because that did not dent Sethi’s uniqueness as such. He proved to be a good administrator, having the ability to turn the fortunes of Pakistan cricket around.Published in Daily Times, August 21st 2018.