With the “Big Three” already a failed experiment in creating a cricketing aristocracy, the chips from that breakup are falling where they may. And one of the first problems to be settled are the representations under which Pakistan was made to end opposition to this idea at its inception – a bilateral contract between India’s and Pakistan’s cricket boards for 5 bilateral series in 8 years from 2015 to 2023. While similar bilateral contracts have yielded fruitful series, only India has refused to live up to its end of the bargain. Now the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) is liable to pay for damages due to its breach, and the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) is right in pursuing the matter aggressively.

India response has been to deny that a contract existed, and to claim that the agreement was only a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) that was subject to government approval. In response, the Chairman of the PCB Shaharyar Khan said on Monday that no clause in the agreement mentioned government approval, and the agreement was clearly envisioned as a contract. He also said that while the Indian teams has attended International Cricket Council (ICC) events where it competed against Pakistan at neutral venues, claiming security concerns in bilateral events in neutral venues is disingenuous. He has a point, India’s aversion to a bilateral series began before tensions between the two countries rose to such acrimonious levels.

In either case the BCCI is a body independent of the Indian government and which contracted agreements of its own volition. Even if the government stopped it from playing the series it must be responsible for its own actions and pay damages for a breach of contract from its side. Clearly this matter is one for the courts and the PCB decision to approach the ICC for dispute resolution is the correct one.

India’s insistence on playing politics with cricket has damaged both the sport and bilateral relations.