In a major development in Pakistan cricket, fast bowler Wahab Riaz has been named as a caretaker Sports Minister in the province of Punjab. Riaz, who is out of action for a long time in International Cricket, will take the oath when he returns to his country. The cricketer is currently taking part in the Bangladesh Premier League.
The caretaker Chief Minister of Punjab, Mohsin Naqvi on Friday confirmed Riaz's appointment. He is expected to hold the position till the until elections of the Punjab Assembly are held in three-four months. The 37-year-old Pakistani pacer is also part of the upcoming Pakistan Super League (PSL) and Riaz has been retained by Peshawar Zalmi. Though there is no official word on his participation in the league, he is expected to play in the Pakistani league.
Pakistan’s Punjab state this month dissolved the local legislature on the advice of the chief minister, an ally of former premier Imran Khan, in a bid to force snap elections. Wahab last played for Pakistan in 2020 and has appeared in 27 Tests, 91 ODIs and 36 T20 internationals. He is the leading wicket-taker in the PSL with 103 wickets. He last featured for his national side in a T20 match in December 2020, when Pakistan faced New Zealand.
In an interview on Friday, the pacer targeted the former administration to be unfair to some senior players. He said that the former selector Muhammad Wasim and former Chairman of the PCB Ramiz Raja were not fair with some of the senior players including him, Shoaib Malik and Sarfaraz Ahmed.
During Pakistan's dismal outing in the group stage of the T20 World Cup 2022, Riaz was among other Pakistani cricketers to target the then-chief selector Wasim. Meanwhile, Wahab is not the first cricketer to join politics. Cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan served as Pakistan's prime minister from August 2018 to April 2022. Pacer Sarfaraz Nawaz was an elected Member of the National Assembly and served as sports minister in the Benazir Bhutto government in the 90s.
(Inputs from PTI)