“Falsifying age to become eligible to participate in age-group cricket is not only an offence but a menace,” says PCB high performance director Nadeem Khan
The PCB has suspended the ongoing National Under-13 and Under-16 tournaments amid concerns over age fraud. The board will now conduct a third round of further bone age verification tests to ensure “only deserving cricketers feature in the relevant age-group competitions”.
These tournaments, which began on January 11 in Karachi and Multan, are part of the PCB Pathways Programme set up by the chairman Ramiz Raja in a bid to streamline the journey for Pakistan cricketers though the ranks. But according to PCB high performance director Nadeem Khan, some of the participants did not match the age requirements. Players found to be overage will be removed from the competition.
“After visual assessment confirmed that some over-age cricketers were participating in the U-13 and U-16 tournaments, suspending the events and conducting fresh bone age tests was absolutely the right thing to do,” Nadeem said in a statement. “The PCB, as the sole governing body of cricket in Pakistan, cannot allow over-age cricketers to take advantage of the flaws in the system and cause demotivation and mental stress to deserving under-age cricketers as well as their parents.
“Falsifying age to become eligible to participate in age-group cricket is not only an offence but a menace that has been plaguing our system. This now needs to be corrected to protect the integrity of the tournaments as well as to stop the exodus of young talented cricketers.”
Concerns about overage cricketers had been conveyed to ESPNcricinfo from the start of the tournament, with several associations believed to be fielding multiple players over the age limit in the U-13 level. One game, at the Karachi City Cricket Association (KCCA), saw a player hit 11 sixes, with one of them clearing the stadium altogether. With the situation becoming untenable, the PCB decided to suspend the matches and impose a more rigorous age-testing system.
Nadeem also said the PCB would look to learn lessons from this incident. “A decision on their [overage players] future participation in PCB-organised events [will be] made. Separately, the PCB will also review its internal processes and try to put in place protocols whereby only cricketers who are genuinely the relevant age get an opportunity to compete in PCB-organised events so that they remain on track to fulfilling their dreams though our pathways programmes.”