Sethi attempts to wriggle away from media war over T-10 League

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In yet another move in the ongoing back and forth between the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) and the Jaang media group, the PCB, on Sunday, issued a response statement to an article published in ‘The News’ regarding the upcoming T10 cricket league in the UAE.

The news item in question was itself a response to an earlier PCB response which had been made regarding the initial story about the T10 league that the paper had run.

 

 

 

The situation comes at a time when PCB Chairman Najam Sethi is already under considerable heat by former cricketers for allowing Pakistan to be such an integral part of the league which many critics are calling detrimental to the future of the games. Players including Zaheer Abbas, Waqar Younis and Aamir Sohail have all raised their voices against the new ten over format that the tournament will use.

The initial news story which had started the entire matter had alleged that the T10 would have dire impacts on Pakistan’s own franchise cricket tournament, the Pakistan Super League (PSL), which will see its third edition in the coming year.

It had gone on to insinuate that an Indian conspiracy was at play citing the presence of one Indian industrialist investor in the league and player Virender Sehwag as proof. The report also leveled accusations against owner of PSL team Karachi Kings and ARY media group boss Salman Iqbal, claiming that he was all in for the destruction of the PSL.

This element has by now elevated the conflict to new heights with traditional enemies ARY and the Jaang group’s Geo at each others’ throats over the conflict.

Meanwhile, Najam Sethi seemed to have reevaluated his own role in the situation and came out with guns blazing against his former employer, Geo News.

When I was in Geo, ARY constantly attacked me for sharing PSL broadcast rights with Geo. Now Geo is attacking me for allowing Pak cricketers to play in a League part-owned by ARY. No matter. I shall always do what is best for PCB, Pak cricketers and fans” he stated in a recent twitter rant.

 

 

 

This was soon followed by his laying the blame at the door of the media saying “One PSL Franchise is media partners with Geo GROUP. Another PSL Franchise is with ARY GROUP. Now ARY has bought a stake in T-10 League. The two warring elephants are trampling PCB and hurting NATIONAL cricket. How sad!”

 

 

 

Despite whatever and however Sethi is handling the situation, one does feel a pang of sadness for the PCB. According to their latest press release, they negotiated hard for the T10 league and have managed to $400,000 NOC contracts for the players as well as a 10% discount on UAE venues used for the PSL next year. Now, they are under attack from former players, international cricket pundits and an entire media group.

Moreover, the PCB seems to be getting a little desperate with their defences. Sethi has been increasingly erratic, and while the official responses have reflected professionalism, the Chairman’s insistence on going after Geo and The News. While they may deserve it in some respects, Sethi’s brash talk makes the defence attempt seem sloppy and, most importantly, worried.

That the PCB seems worried is probably a reflection of reality. After all, why wouldn’t they be? So, at a time like this, support from people like Shahid Afridi and Doctor Numan Niaz is probably the only thing keeping their head above the water. However, with a PSL that plans to host at least five games in Pakistan including the final in Karachi, no risks can be taken and a war between media giants with the PCB and Najam Sethi right in the middle of it is the last thing they need going into 2018.