New Pakistan cricket chief wants to retain friendly ties with India

October 9th, 2008 - 5:54 pm ICT by IANS  

Karachi, Oct 9 (IANS) Pakistan’s new cricket chief Ijaz Butt wants to ‘retain’ friendly relations with India in a bid to keep the support of the country’s powerful cricket board.India’s importance for the new Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) boss could be gauged from the fact that the first foreign cricket officials whom Butt will be meeting later this month is Shashank Manohar, who took over as the president of Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) last month.

“I have met the new BCCI president and I must say that he is a thorough gentleman,” Butt, a former Test cricketer, told IANS from his hometown Lahore Thursday. “I will be meeting him in Dubai next week on the sidelines of an International Cricket Council (ICC) meeting and hopefully it is going to be a productive meeting,” he stressed.

Butt replaced Nasim Ashraf as the PCB chairman earlier this week. Ashraf, who resigned in August, developed a very close relationship with the Indian cricket board during his two-year stint and took all important decisions after consultations with the BCCI officials.

There are growing fears in the national cricket circles that a series of suicide bombings in the country may force India to reconsider its tour of Pakistan scheduled to start early in January. Most leading teams have avoided coming to Pakistan but so far India has been a regular visitor to the country.

Pakistan has suffered huge losses because of the postponement of Australia’s tour and the Champions Trophy in September and cannot afford to lose the ‘iconic’ home series against India that will include three Tests, five one-day internationals and a Twenty20 game in Jan-Feb next year.

Butt is confident that India will tour Pakistan. “India has been very supportive of Pakistan cricket and I’m sure it will send its team here for what is a very huge series for both countries,” he said.

Butt, 70, admitted that Pakistan cricket is facing huge challenges.

“I’m in the process of devising a strategy to bring Pakistan cricket back on its feet,” he said. “I believe that our cricket needs complete overhauling and that is what I’ll be doing in the coming weeks.”

Butt hinted that he would bring in his own team to run the PCB and also promised to cut down the number of Board employees in a bid to reduce expenses. The PCB currently has over 700 staffers.

Butt said he is unhappy with Pakistan’s inconsistent performance and indicated sweeping changes in the team.

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