Yes its going ahead! No its not! Wow, I don’t know what to write. Things are changing so frequently that by the time I finish writing this article, something new might have come up.
The president of the Bangladesh Cricket Board, Mustafa Kamal was here in Lahore along with a delegation to check the security arrangements in Pakistan for the upcoming tour of Pakistan. He returned home satisfied with the arrangements and was also very hopeful that the tour would go ahead. But today, his statement has put the tour in doubts again. Kamal said his team would not tour Pakistan if the ICC does not appoint neutral match officials for the matches. “We won’t go if everything doesn’t happen within the standard practice, which is the allocation of match-referees, umpires and all things by the ICC”. He said that the ICC’s decision to not send its umpires would mean that the ICC is not taking responsibility. “That means we are not going there because ICC also has responsibility. If they don’t take responsibility, then on what basis can I send my players.” The PCB is astonished by the new stance of the Bangladesh Cricket Board president Mustafa Kamal.
Now why can’t the ICC take responsibility. Why are they not at the forefronts of this effort to bring international cricket to Pakistan. The ICC never shows keen interest in things that are not money spinners or that do not please the ICC power houses – India, Australia and England. A while back, the ICC tasked what they felt was their most competent person to lead a Pakistan Task Team to work on bringing international cricket to Pakistan. A man who had been in ‘not the best of terms’ with the then PCB chairman, Ijaz Butt. The task team sat in their luxurious offices and prepared a report that was suppose to provide a road map for resuming international cricket in Pakistan. The report, however, did not say much about bringing international cricket back to Pakistan, its main purpose in the first place. Rather it provided some fairy suggestions on how to improve the game of cricket in Pakistan. A purely bookish piece of work. Infact the team did not visit Pakistan even once, nor did they hire a third party to assess the security situation for the game of cricket in the country. This is how serious the ICC is in bringing international cricket back to Pakistan. In fact after the recent comments of Mustafa Kamal, it is beginning to look like, the ICC is the biggest obstacle.
The Bangladesh football association also showed some reluctance in coming to Pakistan to play their world cup qualifier and sent their request to FIFA to allow for the match to be played elsewhere. However, FIFA rubbished Bangladesh’s concerns about security situation in Pakistan, and told Bangladesh football association that they had to play their match as per plan in Pakistan. The match went ahead and everything was safe and secure. Why can’t the ICC take a similar stand.
Infact, in the current situation, Bangladesh cricket team is ready to come but the ICC does not want to send its umpires. It is not that all the ICC umpires have refused to come to Pakistan. It is also not that people from foreign countries are not visiting Pakistan. Everything is going on as usual, foreign coaches are in Pakistan taking on lucrative jobs, international teams of other games are traveling to Pakistan, its only those associated with the ICC that feel so threatened and scared. Instead, the ICC has bent its rules to allow for non-neutral umpires to officiate in the matches. Just for those who did not get it, ‘non-neutral’ means Pakistanis. They are allowed by the ICC to officiate in unsafe security situations because should anything happen to them, the ICC would be fine with it. But the ICC cannot allow umpires of any other nationality to take the risk because the ICC feels that their lives are more valuable.
Mustafa kamal, who also enjoys the support of Pakistan as the nominee for becoming the next ICC president, says that he wants Bangladesh to tour Pakistan. But only if the ICC takes it seriously and fulfills its responsibility. He said: “I am the president of the BCB and also the president of the Asian Cricket Council, in that sense I have a dual responsibility, and yes I do want cricket to happen in Pakistan but it all depends on many issues – security, the ICC’s views and the government’s approval. The discussions are on and in a short time we will announce our decision.” Though its the responsibility of the ICC and the ICC is playing a negative role in all this, Bangladesh could still act with less arrogance and accept the ICC’s offer to allow for non-neutral umpires. Till his decision comes the cricket lovers in Pakistan can only wait and curse their fate. In all this uncertainty and chaos, what kind of sponsor can the PCB bag for the tour and if they don’t one, who will cover the expenses of the tour. The PCB would be in financial difficulties and the BCCI would be riding high on IPL, CL and a busy international schedule.