DUBAI: Pakistan will only sign up for the Test and one-day leagues, agreed to in principle at the International Cricket Council Board meeting last week, if India honour a Memorandum of Understanding to play bilateral matches, Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chairman Najam Sethi said on Monday.

The ICC board meeting in Auckland gave the go-ahead to a nine-team Test league over a period of two years starting at the conclusion of the 2019 World Cup, with each team playing six series on a home-and-away basis, culminating in a World Test League Championship final.

The One-day International league will serve as direct qualification for the ICC World Cup and will be contested by the 12 full members plus the winners of the current ICC World Cricket League Championship.

In the first edition of the league, each side will play four home-and-four away series, each comprising three ODIs, moving to all teams playing each other from the second cycle onwards.

But the burning question regarding the implementation remains how the structure of the leagues will work, without India playing Pakistan.

The scheduling of the league is expected next month, while the draft is likely to be presented for signature in January.

Sethi told wisden.pk that Pakistan would sign only if India honoured a 2014 MoU, according to which both countries were due to play six series between 2014 and 2023, pending clearance from the Indian government.

“Pakistan will sign provided we get bilateral matches with India, no less than those agreed in the MoU of 2014, and without prejudice to our legal position viz MoU in which 24 matches are listed in period until 2023,” said Sethi.

The first of the six series was scheduled for 2015, which the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) did not agree to be played even at a neutral venue, citing no permission from the government.

The BCCI, who were due to host the second series in November-December, have invited Sri Lanka in the same period as strained relations between the two countries do not allow any bilateral cricket to be staged.

With India not playing Pakistan in a Test match since 2007, it is learnt that as a starting point, this series should not be a part of the league but can be incorporated in future when the two countries resume bilateral series.

Pakistan are also taking legal action against India not honouring the MoU. Sethi said the legal case in which PCB are seeking $70 million in compensation will take its course. “We expect to formally file before the ICC Dispute Resolution Committee within the next two or three months,” said the PCB chairman.

The stand-off could not be resolved in a PCB-BCCI meeting — also attended by Shashank Manohar, the ICC chairman — held in England in June. The PCB officials had engaged lawyers in the UK to fight the case.

Under the rules, the ICC will form a three-member committee to hear the case. The decision of the committee will be binding on all parties and cannot be appealed. —wisden.pk

Published in Dawn, October 18th, 2017

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