The Indian cricket board (BCCI) has finally done the expected and taken refuge in the clause it had built into the MoU just for this purpose. It has conveniently diverted the decision of whether its team will play Pakistan or not to the Modi government. Judging by today’s circumstances it is like trying to take the jar of honey out of the bear’s hands.
I wrote last week that the invite to Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) from BCCI to come and meet at Mumbai was a set up. And the subsequent events proved it. Not that Shaharyar Khan can be blamed fully since if he had declined to go after constantly seeking answers, the BCCI could have used that refusal and kept the issue pending.
Yes, there could have been a conference call or even a meeting over Skype, but the sensitivity of the talks could have been compromised; hence the idea to meet face to face made sense.
But what has made me doubt further the sincerity of the BCCI comes from what Najam Sethi revealed in his talk show. According to him, he, Shaharyar Khan and Subhan Ahmed were in their hotel room in Mumbai going over last-minute preparations when they saw on TV that some thugs had invaded the BCCI office.
Before that Najam Sethi had said that Shashank Manohar had asked his wife to accompany Mrs Shaharyar Khan for the day and according to him they were in another room at the elite Oberoi-Trident hotel.
When the ruckus was shown on TV, Sethi recounted on his show, Mrs Manohar came over to their room after a while and said the meeting had been postponed.
He went on to describe how the morning unfolded and we heard that she was eventually asked by them as to whether the meeting would be held later in the day or even in the evening so they could hold back their scheduled departure in late afternoon.
Sethi also revealed that Mrs Manohar said that she couldn’t now get through to her husband and that he had gone into a meeting that would take till six in the evening to finish.
With Sethi and Subhan booked for Dubai at 7pm and Shaharyar for Delhi around the same time, the PCB officials left for the airport, having given up on the meeting.
The point that has to be made here is why in heavens Mrs Manohar was playing the role of coordinator! Why did the BCCI president not telephone Shaharyar himself after the Shiv Sena activists, the 40-50 that were there, had left? Why did he not drive over to the hotel himself to have a word with the PCB officials? Why did he not switch the venue of the meeting to the hotel?
The PCB officials have every right to ask Manohar these questions. And why couldn’t he accompany Shaharyar on the flight to Delhi where reportedly the BCCI secretary Anurag Thakur was present.
This just shows how the BCCI had already planned to ridicule the PCB officials. The BCCI president did not have the courtesy to give a call to PCB officials and talk himself; rather he sent a message through his wife who it seems had been attached with Mrs Shaharyar just for that purpose. It was an insult indeed; a humiliation. Nowhere have I heard that an organisation’s head invites another head of organisation and then sends messages through his wife. How rude, how insolent, how belittling is that?
And this has all been revealed by Sethi himself on a show that is available to be viewed again.
And since then the BCCI chief has not apologised; in fact, after Shaharyar talked to IPL chief Rajiv Shukla in Delhi, the Indian official came out and said no cricket was discussed!
It is not surprising therefore that the BCCI secretary has now said that the matter is out of their hands and rests with the Indian government. By staging the demo and Shiv Sena invasion the BCCI just showed to the world how much the Indian people are against the series, even though there were hardly 50 people that went there to protest.
Now Shaharyar has said that the Pakistani government may react and stop the Pakistani team from participating in the World Twenty20 in India scheduled for March-April next year. I think we could have withheld that probability till close to the event itself next year or simply said that the Pakistani government was concerned about security of Pakistani players. It should have come from a government official rather than the PCB chief.
When Shaharyar said this was a distant probability he linked it to India-Pakistan Test series which points to a tit for tat. This shows that security for Pakistani players in India would not be an issue if India came and played in UAE this December.
We have to be very careful what comes out of PCB regarding the World Twenty20. This is an ICC event. It is their revenues that will be affected and not BCCI’s; they will suffer of course and see a dip in their share of the profits. But if the ICC can prove this is because of a dispute between Pakistan and India then Pakistan will be penalised and fined. PCB also has to realise that if it doesn’t participate in the World Twenty20 it loses a huge amount of money. PCB should play its cards in such a manner that if it doesn’t go it is seen only because of the threat to the lives of the Pakistani players in India.