KARACHI: While the Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) still remains adamant that its national side would only travel to Pakistan for the three-match Twenty20 International series in January over security concerns, the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) has once again asked their counterparts to provide valid reasons for their refusal to play the Test matches here.
A senior PCB official said on Thursday the BCB has been asked to explain the rationale of their reluctance to fulfill their obligation under the ICC Future Tour Programme (FTP).
The PCB has reminded that the series has been on the FTP since December 2018, while on 21 October 2019, the PCB had written to the BCB about the series and shared the draft itinerary, which they only responded in December.
The PCB, in an email on Thursday, has recapped that the Sri Lanka cricket team, which was targeted in March 2009 by the terrorists, had just completed the Test series of an incident-free two-leg tour to Pakistan.
Sri Lanka spent a grand total of 34 days, 17 each across the limited-overs trip — in September/October when they played One-day Internationals in Karachi and the T20 series in Lahore — and the recent Test matches in Rawalpindi and Karachi.
The visitors not only commended the PCB but also praised the Pakistan government for making excellent security arrangements during the landmark tour.
In fact, Sri Lanka Test captain Dimuth Karunaratne, during his media briefings, repeatedly regretted at skipping the ODI leg after being overwhelmed by the security blanket to his team both in Rawalpindi and Karachi.
“We have also offered the BCB that if they have any concerns, they should visit Pakistan and discuss the matter with us so that we are able to convince them and provide better guidance,” a PCB spokesman said, while adding: “The discussions are ongoing and we remain confident that the BCB will review their decision.”
The PCB has further written in the letter that the International Cricket Council (ICC) only sends its officials after reviewing and approving security plans. Since 2017, the PCB said, the game’s governing body had sent five teams of match officials to supervise the international fixtures played in Pakistan.
The BCB stance is quite strange because in recent months it had sent an under-16 national team to Rawalpindi and the women’s side to Lahore after a high-powered visit by their security delegation.
Moreover, the PCB has advised BCB officials to reach out Reg Dickason, the renowned expert on security-related issues who is regularly engaged by the ICC, opinion about the Pakistan security.
Dickason was in Rawalpindi and Multan last month and gave the thumbs up to these cities who will be staging their first matches of the HBL Pakistan Super League in February and March.
The other point that has perplexed the PCB is the BCB’s choice of Islamabad as one of the two venues along with Rawalpindi. The PCB, in its latest communiqué, has asked for clarification while informing their opposite numbers that there was no ICC-accredited venue in Islamabad.
“We received an email from the BCB on Tuesday and today [Thursday] we have responded to them. Obviously, this series is important to both the countries who need Test cricket. Besides, this is also part of the ICC World Test Championship, so the ICC is also a stakeholder n this.
“In the past few years, we have demonstrated to the world that Pakistan is as safe and secure as any other cricket-playing country and we need to know what are the BCB’s reasons for not sending their players for an extended stay.
PCB Chairman Ehsan Mani had last week made it clear that offshore Tests were off the table. This effectively means either Bangladesh will play the Tests in Pakistan or the matter will potentially be referred to the ICC and/or its dispute panel in the scenario of PCB facing legal actions from its commercial and media partners.
Meanwhile, the PCB has said the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) is giving false and misleading impression about Pakistan players being ignored for the ICC-approved T20 games between the Asia XI and World XI in Dhaka on March 16 and 20, under the umbrella of BCB and the Asian Cricket Council (ACC).
The PCB said the matter was discussed at an ACC meeting where the PCB had informed the BCB that they were willing to allow its players as long as the dates were altered to avoid a clash with the HBL Pakistan Super League 2020.
“The T20Is between World XI and Asia XI were scheduled from 16-20 March, while the HBL PSL 2020 is likely to end on 22 March. Since dates of both the series couldn’t be changed, we offered our regrets to the BCB, both verbally and in writing, which they understood and accepted.
“It is unfortunate that the facts were twisted to mislead Pakistan cricket fans and followers,” the spokesman added.
Published in Dawn, December 27th, 2019