NEW DELHI/DUBAI - The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) is now in a fix over the December series against Pakistan and in all possibility the Indian board has to go ahead with the promised series.
As reported by India Today, it is clear that the proposed series in December is more than a definite possibility. The MOU, now in possession of India Today exclusively, shows how India had bought over the PCB's vote at the ICC by promising to play a certain number of series in 2014 and how that will now come to haunt the BCCI.
It also shows that the BCCI had threatened the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) that there will be no bilateral cricket if the PCB did not support the ICC's restructuring.
The MoU signed by Sanjay Patel and Najam Sethi is enforceable and the current BCCI dispensation has little option but to honour it.
According to sources, Shashank Manohar, despite his opposition to a neutral venue, will have to give in because he has been left with no option. Also he is ICC chairman and this MoU is part of the ICC's FTP.
The MoU, which is evidence how votes changed hands based on lucrative promises raises serious questions about the ICC's governance. It also shows how the ICC's restructuring was brought about when other boards did not want to accept the BCCI's monopoly.
It literally seals BCCI's fate into accepting to play Pakistan in a neutral venue. Manohar will most likely to suggest Sri Lanka or Bangladesh as venues instead the UAE citing its history of betting. But the chance of the series happening in India is negligible and that in a neutral venue is a definite possibility.
Once things firm up, a formal proposal would be placed before the PCB, which is headed by a former foreign secretary, Shaharyar Khan.
Manohar and Shaharyar are expected to meet in Dubai on Saturday/ Sunday. While the former has left for the Emirate in his capacity as chairman of the world body, Shaharyar is there for the ongoing Pakistan-England matches.
The UAE has become Pakistan’s home venue after the attack (in Lahore) on the Sri Lanka team bus, in March 2009. Thus far, the Indian and Pakistani Boards have rejected each other’s proposals. Both sides have left no scope for any compromise on their publicly stated positions.
India have said “no” to playing in the UAE; Pakistan’s stand has been the same on again touring India. The 2012-13 face-offs were hosted by India. As it’s supposed to be a home series for the PCB, they’ll obviously look at the revenue model before saying ‘yes’ to either Sri Lanka or Bangladesh.
Both Sri Lanka and Bangladesh don’t have a home series between the first week of December and the first few days of January – the period during which India and Pakistan are supposed to play each other. If India and Pakistan do agree to revive bilateral cricket on neutral ground (after the mandatory clearances from New Delhi and Islamabad), then the matches can be played in either Sri Lanka or Bangladesh.
Sri Lanka appears the more likely venue, as the BPL would be on till December 15. Then, Bangladesh are to host a Test series against Zimbabwe from January 5 or thereabouts. Besides, there have been security-related issues in recent times, with Australia even deferring their tour of Bangladesh.
As far too many factors come into play, in relations between India and Pakistan, one can’t predict anything with certainty. However, both Sri Lanka and Bangladesh would be delighted to host such a high-profile contest. India and Pakistan, by the way, have to reach Australia and New Zealand, respectively, by January 8.
Pakistan cricket chief Shaharyar also said Friday that England supported the resumption of ties between India and Pakistan stalled for seven years due to strained relations.
Shaharyar said England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) president Giles Clarke is also supporting the series.
“Former ECB chairman Giles Clarke (now president of the ECB) is also making an effort (for India-Pakistan series) and he is also of the opinion that the series should be held for the interest of cricket,” Khan told media on the side-lines of fourth day-night international between Pakistan and England.
“Clarke believes that a Pakistan-India series is vital for the game and he is also talking to the BCCI chief and I have told him that he has no need to convince us, convince the BCCI.” Khan said Clarke was due to arrive in Dubai on Saturday while BCCI chairman Shashank Manohar — also the new chairman of the International Cricket Council — is also in the city.
“I have no meeting scheduled with Manohar but if he asks for a meeting then we can meet,” said Khan. “Let’s see if Clarke makes the effort and comes here tomorrow.”
Khan said the Indo-Pak series is now a matter for Islamabad to decide with Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif directing the PCB not to take any decision without the government’s advice. “Now the matter is political because the advice from the PM is that the final decision will be made by the government only. We have put that before the BCCI,” said Khan, a former foreign secretary.
“We always wanted this series to happen right from the start, If India is not accepting what they have signed in the MoU then if doesn’t happen then so be it.”