Pakistan’s Rauf gets his PCB central contract back


Haris Rauf has had his central contract reinstated with immediate effect, with PCB chairman Mohsin Naqvi admitting the decision to rip up his central contract was wrong. In a significant climbdown for the PCB, Naqvi attributed it all to a misunderstanding, and called Rauf a “star player for Pakistan”.

“I received a letter from Haris Rauf who made his case very nicely,” Naqvi said at a press conference in Lahore. “There was a misunderstanding, and an incorrect decision was taken. His contract has been restored. I was worried about him because he’s injured, and there were concerns about who would facilitate his treatment. We will now have insurance cover that because he’s our star player, and it’s important to take care of him.”

The PCB’s reversal less than six weeks after the announcement that his contract had been terminated, following disciplinary proceedings against Rauf for refusing to be a part of Pakistan’s Test tour to Australia. Then chief selector Wahab Riaz had slammed Rauf for making himself unavailable, saying the fast bowler had hurt Pakistan cricket and gone back on his word – a statement Rauf contests. Pakistan went on to lose that series 3-0. At the time his contract was terminated, the PCB said it had found Rauf’s responses and justifications “unsatisfactory”, and it is not clear what prompted the change of heart.
The decision at the time was controversially made two days out from the start of the PSL. Rauf played four games of the tournament for Lahore Qalandars before he injured his shoulder diving to take a catch, and was ruled out of the remainder of PSL. He is currently recovering from that injury.

Naqvi announced the decision to reinstate his contract with Wahab – Rauf’s strongest critic within the PCB – by his side on a day Wahab’s time as chairman of the PCB’s selection committee ended. Naqvi announced a new selection committee that would not have a chair at all, with Wahab, Mohammad Yousuf, Abdul Razzaq and Asad Shafiq part of a seven-person panel. The other three members of the selection committee will include the national team captain, a coach who is yet to be appointed, and Hassan Cheema, a data analyst who has worked with the PCB since 2023.

“What’s different about this committee is that there will be no chairman of the selection committee, with every member having equal power,” Naqvi said. “They will make a majority decision based around debate and argument to reach satisfactory conclusions. We have looked at every single member of this committee to assess their merits and we are confident that we’ve made the right choices. The chairman should not have any say in the selection of players.”

Pakistan’s as-yet unsuccessful quest for a head coach remains the most significant gap to plug, and Naqvi said he did not have fresh information on that front. He blamed media speculation for Shane Watson’s decision to pull out of the race after the PCB had made him their biggest target, though ESPNcricinfo has learnt there were a number of other factors that played a part in his decision.

“There’s no point speculating in advance about our coaching pursuits because the media can blow things out of proportion. We will make sure we get a dream team of a coaching panel, with a combination of foreign and Pakistani coaches.”

Pakistan’s next engagement is a five-match T20I series against New Zealand in April.


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