No winner in the game of politics
BCCI will take decision after its special general meeting on May 27
By Fatima Shafiq
In a bid to overcome the impasse, Pakistan embraces a hybrid model for the upcoming Asia Cup in September after the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) declines to visit the country. Meanwhile, India places emphasis on securing a written assurance from the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB), ensuring Pakistan's participation in the World Cup 2023 slated for October.
Even though BCCI will take the official decision after its special general meeting on May 27, it is likely they will accept PCB’s proposal according to an Indian publication. India is concerned that Pakistan may boycott the World Cup which it will host this year if they do not allow the Asia Cup to be held in Pakistan. “India should not be looking at a situation where we end up boycotting the Asia Cup and also the World Cup and then India ends up boycotting the Champions Trophy.
There’ll be a huge mess,” said Najam Sethi, the chairman of PCB. Moreover, since the plan has already received approval from the other four participating nations - Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Nepal and Sri Lanka - there is no sense in the BCCI objecting this time.
The hybrid model proposes dividing the tournament into two halves. During the first half, all teams, except India, will play four or possibly five games in Pakistan. In the second phase, they will play the remaining matches, including India, at a neutral venue. “Let’s all go and play the four, five matches in Pakistan and then everybody packs up and goes to the neutral venue and there is no more travelling between countries,” Sethi told Karan Thapar, an Indian journalist working with a media outlet.
The PCB has proposed Dubai or London as the neutral venue. “The gate receipts are very important to us, there are only two places where the gate receipts are significant, one is UAE where there is a huge diaspora of the Asian community, we will have a house full in all the games and of course London where the Asian community is mad about cricket and will pay a good amount of money to watch India-Pakistan matches,” said Sethi.
However, the Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) and Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) have raised concerns over the intense weather conditions in the UAE during the tournament and proposed Sri Lanka for the second half. Meanwhile, it is learnt that the Asian Cricket Council (ACC) has accorded assent to the hybrid model proposal.
Sethi had earlier warned that if ACC president Jay Shah did not agree to his hybrid model, Pakistan would not travel to India for the world cup. This decision has upset many former cricketers including Shahid Afridi, former chief selector of PCB and captain of the Pakistan team. “Why are they saying ‘we will not go to India for World Cup 2023? Take it as a positive, cricket is happening, ask your players to go win the World Cup and tell them that the whole nation is with them. Winning WC in India would be a great triumph and a huge slap on India,” Afridi said.
The verdict by the ACC holds immense significance as it will shape the future of major cricket tournaments, including the World Cup 2023 in India and the Champions Trophy 2025 in Pakistan. With both Pakistan and India ranked second and third best in ODI while also contributing significantly to tournament revenues, the question arises whether the intertwining of sports and politics will hinder cricket's growth. It remains crucial for both countries to set politics aside and prioritise the expansion and prosperity of the sport.