Pakistan-India cricket

Published November 27, 2017

INDIA’S persistent failure to honour its cricket commitments with Pakistan for a bilateral series could see the Pakistan Cricket Board file a case in the International Cricket Council in January 2018 to settle the long-standing dispute. The PCB is seeking compensation from the BCCI, the Indian cricket board, for not honouring an MoU signed between the two boards in 2014 under which Pakistan and India were to play six bilateral series from 2015 to 2023. Unlike his predecessors, PCB chairman Najam Sethi has pursued the matter and is confident about getting a favourable verdict from the ICC. He recently said that lawyers were giving final shape to the case against the BCCI. The PCB is confident of success; since 2015 it has offered the BCCI multiple options including playing at neutral venues because the Indian government does not want to send the team to Pakistan or to invite the Pakistanis over, for security reasons. The PCB appears to mean business this time as it has allocated $1m for contesting the case in the ICC and other courts if it fails to get a favourable decision.

However, given the Indian government’s propensity to mix politics with sports, and the ICC’s reputation as a toothless tiger in such cases, many here aren’t too optimistic about the PCB’s success. Besides, the ICC’s currently being headed by an Indian, Shashank Manohar, does not help either. Although Mr Manohar, during his tenure as ICC chief, has largely been impartial in matters involving his native country, he has been a bystander in crucial matters such as India’s defiance of the ICC’s future tours programme or its continued refusal to make use of the decision review system. Both apply strictly to all other cricket-playing nations. If the deadlock persists, it would be detrimental for the game since there are few contests in cricket that are as exciting or financially viable as a Pakistan-India match. The stupendous monetary and viewership success of the Champions Trophy final in England last June was just one example of this.

Published in Dawn, November 27th, 2017

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