Karachi: Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan on Wednesday defended his decision to change the domestic cricket structure in the country, insisting that after initial teething problems the new system will produce world-class talent.
Addressing officials of the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB), the Pakistan Television Corporation and information ministry officials, Imran said that Pakistan cricket had only done well because of its immense raw talent despite a poor cricket system.
"I have convinced with great difficulty Misbah, Hafeez and Azhar (who were among the attendees) that the new cricket structure must be allowed to grow and become strong," said Imran, the 1992 World Cup-winning captain.
Head coach and chief selector, Misbah-ul-Haq and senior players, Mohammad Hafeez and Azhar Ali met with the Prime Minister on Wednesday in Islamabad along with PCB Chairman, Ehsan Mani and CEO Wasim Khan to discuss the domestic cricket system.
Misbah, Hafeez and Azhar had requested to meet with the PM. They had earlier said that the new system which has done away with departmental cricket had left many cricketers jobless and was not cut out for the Pakistan cricket culture.
"I told them that every new system had its teething problems and it takes some time but I can assure you once it is established it will ensure the raw talent we have in cricket will come through polished and groomed for international cricket," Imran said.
Under the new domestic cricket structure introduced last year by the PCB on the directives of the PM, only six provincial teams now compete in First-Class cricket and other ODI and T20 tournaments and departmental teams have been scrapped from the system.
Imran said he wants to see Pakistan cricket belong where it should belong once its talent is properly groomed and there is a system to ensure only quality players come forward.
"I am hopeful that we will be able in a position to field a very strong team for the next World Cup and do well in it thanks to this new system," he said.
Imran had said in the past that Pakistan had a domestic cricket system which didn't exist anywhere in the world.
"Despite this system we won because of the immense raw talent we have. Nowhere does a player graduate straight into the national team from junior or club-level cricket."
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A Pakistan that is effectively a banana Republic is not in New Delhi's interest. A stable enemy is far better than one unhinged