New Delhi: After assuming charge as the Pakistan Cricket Board chairman, former Pakistani cricketer Ramiz Raja had some fiery words for those criticising his selection of the team’s T20 World Cup squad.
“Main gaaliyan khane nahi aaya hoon (I am not here to get abused),” he said, adding that an enclosure at the Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore is named after him and his brother Wasim Raja, and that the Pakistani media should respect his future decisions.
That was enough for Pakistanis to unleash a barrage of comments crticising the new PCB chief’s approach to cricket administration.
He has to answer and listen criticism "iss ka baap ka paisa nahi hai" he will get perks and salary from tax payer money #RamizRaja
— Muhammad Shehzad (@Muhammad0386) September 14, 2021
The selection of Pakistan’s 15-man T20 World Cup squad, approved by Raja, has been under scrutiny since last week, especially for its exclusion of top players Shoaib Malik and Sarfaraz Ahmed, captain of the side that won the Champions Trophy in 2017.
An editorial in Pakistani daily The Nation blamed the overall structure of the PCB and its relationship with the government of the day. “Ramiz Raja had taken a more hands-on approach as soon as discussions about Mani’s (Raja’s predecessor) replacement began, owing to the fact that he was PM Imran Khan’s nominee. As the patron-in-chief, he (Khan) has a substantial say in who heads the organisation. Ironically, Imran Khan had always rightfully spoken out against the PM’s power over the PCB, especially after the incident of complete dissolution by Nawaz Sharif,” said the opinion article.
‘Rambo on a roll’
Some Twitter users accused Raja of trying to “destroy” the Pakistan team with “crazy changes”, while others mocked his outburst, saying “Rambo is on a roll”. Raja, a key figure in Pakistan’s World Cup win in 1992, was given the nickname ‘Rambo’ by his teammates which eventually caught on for the rest of his career.
— Hamza Khan (@HamzaKhan259) September 13, 2021
Journalist Naila Inayat shared a clip of Raja’s outburst (which now has over 38,000 views) with a remark: “Now who hurt him?”
Now who hurt him? pic.twitter.com/fmgCNrni4E
— Naila Inayat (@nailainayat) September 13, 2021
Raja was also prodded for including misfiring power-hitters like Asif Ali and Azam Khan. “The most rubbish player Asif Ali managed to stay in the team, either he is favorite of Ramiz Raja or Mhd Wasim. Apart from that there is no reason to keep him in the team (sic),” said Twitter user by the name of Mikhail.
The most rubbish player Asif Ali manage to to stay in the team, either he is favorite of Ramiz Raja or Mhd Wasim. Apart from that there is no reason to keep him in the team. Absolute Kachra.
— Mikail (@Mikail28788515) September 14, 2021
Taking a shot at Raja, who has been handpicked by PM Imran Khan, a user pointed out the similarity between the outfit of the PM and that of the new PCB chief.
— Rizwana Ghazanfar Official (@RizwanaGhazanf1) September 14, 2021
Appearing to have cooled down from his earlier outburst, Raja took to Twitter Tuesday to announce the setting up of a ‘fan forum’ and a regular Q&A session with fans on his YouTube channel.
To all, many thanks for your wishes. Means a lot. To keep communication channels open, I will have Fan Forum with Ramiz, a Q&A live session on RamizSpeaks every week. I promise to be open and transparent during my stint as Chairman PCB. So let’s get cracking!
— Ramiz Raja (@iramizraja) September 13, 2021
But some on social media likened Raja’s plans to Imran Khan’s tall promises before he became the prime minister.
Reminds me of the BS promises that Imran Khan made when he became PM. PM question time etc etc. You lot are a worst of the worst
— Shams Tabrez (@raxaagha85) September 14, 2021
Others accused him of trying to keep his YouTube channel “running”.
cheeky way to keep ur yt channel running
— F (@falahtah) September 13, 2021
— Huzaima Bhatty (@BhattyHuzaima) September 14, 2021
Babar batsman or Babar celebrity?
Reports also emerged last week that Pakistani skipper Babar Azam was reportedly not happy with the squad selection for the T20 World Cup. Quoting unnamed sources, GeoTV reported that after Azam tried to get in touch with Raja to discuss the team selection, a message was sent back that he should focus on cricket rather than which players will be picked or not.
However, the new PCB Chairman said he “did a couple of sessions with him (Babar Azam) and told him that if you don’t have 400 autograph hunters outside the academy then the whole objective to play cricket has failed. I want a leadership like the one I played under in my era. My expectations for Babar are the same as I had with Imran Khan.”
This made some Pakistanis criticise Raja for getting the priorities wrong, asking him if signing autographs is what a cricketer’s focus should be on.
How many matches @ImranKhanPTI have 'won for Pakistan?
— CP (@CompletedPeace) September 14, 2021