LAHORE (Staff Report) – International Cricket Council (ICC) President Zaheer Abbas has sounded a warning that Pakistan might refuse to tour India because the lives of players are at risk.
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Condemning the attack on BCCI headquarters in Mumbai by Shiv Sena workers, the former Pakistan captain said politics should never be mixed with sports.
Dozens of activists stormed the Mumbai offices of India’s cricket board (BCCI) on Monday to disrupt planned talks on resuming matches against Pakistan, forcing the International Cricket Council (ICC) to withdraw Pakistani umpire Aleem Dar from the one-day games in India.
Pakistani umpire Dar was officiating the one-day series between India and South Africa.
Disappointed over the cold behaviour of BCCI, PCB Chairman Sheharyar Khan has said no more dialogue with Indian cricket broad will be made for resumption of bilateral cricket ties.
Talking to newsmen in New Delhi on Tuesday, Khan said: “If Indian board wants to play any series with Pakistan, they should come forward for talks with PCB.”
Answering a question he said that he was not very hopeful about any cricket series between Pakistan and India. Any such series depends on both cricket boards’ attitude, he added.
Reacting on the issue, Zaheer Abbas, who is also a former Pakistan cricketer, said: “It’s not a new thing. It’s been happening for long. But being the ICC president, I want cricket to spread all around the world.”
“Politics and cricket are two different things. Pakistan is not asking India to play in Pakistan. Pakistan is asking for a bilateral series to be played at a neutral venue,” he told the Indian media.
The ICC president said the entire cricketing world is waiting for an Indo-Pak series to take place.
“Nothing better than India and Pakistan playing each other. The whole world and the people of both India and Pakistan are waiting for the series. The world is hoping that India will give a good news to the cricketing world,” said Abbas, who is regarded as one of the finest batsmen of Pakistan.
“If there is so much fire in India and people are so against the series with Pakistan, then it will create difficulties for the World Twenty20,” the former Pakistani batsman said.
Abbas describing the situation as “complex” told television channels in Pakistan the two nations were due to play the first match in the World Twenty20 competition in India next March.
The Asian cricketing giants also featured in a marquee clash at the 50 over World Cup this year.
The revival of bilateral series between the two nations in December also hangs in the balance following the latest incidents.
The demonstrators demanded that BCCI president Shashank Manohar cancel talks with Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chairman Shahryar Khan that were planned in Mumbai on Monday.
Khan had arrived in the city on Sunday to discuss the possibility of an India-Pakistan series, which is in doubt due to strained political relations.
Khan was expected to meet other cricket officials in New Delhi on Tuesday.
However, BCCI secretary Anurag Thakur has confirmed that talks have been cancelled.
“Officially there is no meeting scheduled in New Delhi. If the talks happen, they will take place in Mumbai at the BCCI headquarters. The BCCI and PCB have some outstanding issues and the PCB chief wanted to meet the BCCI president to discuss those things but those have been cancelled now.
“I condemn this attack because you cannot barge into the BCCI office and force cancellation of the talks. In a democracy, you can protest but you can do it on the streets but you can’t barge into anyone’s office, home or headquarters,” said Thakur who is a Lok Sabha member of the Bharatiya Janata Party.
Former chiefs of the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) have advised against continuing talks with the BCCI officials to have the bilateral series with India in December in the UAE.
Ejaz Butt, Lt General (retd) Tauqir Zia and Khalid Mahmood said the PCB must drop the idea of trying to convince India to play the series in December, according to The Nation.
“I don’t know why the PCB is after India to play the series. It is very apparent they don’t want to play with us,” Butt told PTI.
“Shaharyar had asked me to speak to my contacts in India to push for the series. I did and I got a negative answer and I told Shaharyar to forget about India agreeing to play us in December. I will again tell Shaharyar that he should stop chasing India as it has become embarrassing for us,” he added repeating the sentiments expressed by dashing Pakistan all-rounder Shahid Afridi.
Zia called on the PCB officials to return to Pakistan and focus on the Pakistan Super League and inviting other teams.
Former ICC president Ehsan Mani has already advised the PCB to ensure Pakistan is not grouped with India in the league matches of the World T20 in India next year in a bid to exert pressure on the ICC to interfere in Indo-Pak cricket matters.
“The ICC announced that it has withdrawn Dar from the remaining matches in the ongoing India versus South Africa series,” an ICC release said.
Dar, a member of the Elite Panel of ICC Umpires, had officiated in the first three one-day internationals and was also scheduled to umpire in the fourth and fifth ODIs in Chennai and Mumbai on 22 and 25 October, respectively.
“The ICC has made the decision following Monday’s incident in Mumbai where a group of extremists stormed the Board of Control for Cricket in India offices, and threatened to prevent the umpire from standing in the fifth ODI on Sunday.
“Under the present circumstances, it will be unreasonable to expect from Dar that he will be able to perform his duties to the best of his abilities. As such, he has been withdraw and his replacement will be announced in due course,” an ICC spokesman said.
Pakistan and India have not played a bilateral Test series since 2007. Pakistan did tour India for a short limited over series in 2012 but that failed to pave the way for the resumption of full Tests.