Shaharyar Khan couldn’t have sounded more exasperated last Wednesday night. No cricket was discussed in the meeting between Sartaj Aziz and Sushma Swaraj and it now seemed that even if a last-minute confirmation came through things may be too late.
The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chairman had a point. The hotel and airline reservations have expired and there have been the predictable rains in Sri Lanka. The prospective hosts will obviously want some level of confirmation that the series is going ahead.
But then I am surprised that PCB continues to accept the diminishing quantity of matches that the Indian cricket board (BCCI) keeps coming up with. Remember that a year back there were three Tests and five ODIs and three T20s. That became two Tests and then the Tests were gone completely by last month. The ODIs have come down to three and while there were to be two T20s, now there is talk of a solitary T20I.
Pakistan is not some lowly country in cricket prowess no matter that we are languishing at near the bottom in the ODI rankings and if we are now sixth in T20I table we were at second till a couple of weeks back.
Actually BCCI is afraid that Pakistan, the way it is performing in Tests, they are likely to defeat India whereas in ODIs and T20s they have a better probability of winning. Also the shorter the tour the less the impact domestically for India if India don’t do well. And in the four or five limited over games there will at least be one win by India and that should pacify the Indian fans.
What I can’t understand is why the PCB keeps coming up publicly with the bawling that we’ll lose 50 million dollars. Is that the price PCB has put on Pakistan’s self-respect? They have several times that amount in bank reserves according to the previous PCB chairman Zaka Ashraf.
I can’t even understand how PCB has continued to go ahead without the Tests. This was supposed to be a full-fledged tour by India, just like England has just completed. Why was there no protest by PCB or threat of calling off when the Tests were scrapped? Surely the MoU said that. Or was it that no such clause had been put in the hurry to sign it?
Well then PCB should make sure that they don’t play any Tests when it is their turn to tour India, if this tour by India at all goes through. If it doesn’t then Pakistan should just not tour India next time and not till India plays Pakistan at home or neutral venue. Enough is enough.
BCCI has also shown that ICC is powerless when it comes to them. After all it was Giles Clarke who was being seen as the catalyst that the tour prospects were at all revived. It was when he sat with Shaharyar Khan and Shashank Manohar in Dubai on the sidelines of the OCC meeting that things had started moving.
But first UAE was not acceptable to BCCI and Sri Lanka was drawn into the scenario despite the fear of rains there when the series was to be held. Now the delaying tactics of BCCI and the Indian government have sent a message to people like Giles Clarke that no one can tell India what to do.
And if at all they are under some friendly pressure they will play so few games that it is insulting to Pakistan. And yet the PCB keeps taking the morsels the BCCI throws at it.
Whatever hope there had been when Shashank Manohar made those comments that the idea of having the Big 3 was flawed and should never had happened and that all countries deserved equal treatment and that India did not deserve special treatment.
What resonated most was when he said that there was no logic to saying that India generated more revenues than anyone else because it was the Indian team playing. Manohar pointed out that it was because there was another good side that was playing India that generated money from ticket sales and broadcast rights.
At that time it had seemed that BCCI was reconsidering its position of being the town bully. And that one of the first steps would be the resumption of Indo-Pak cricket. But either it was all drama to make Pakistan complacent or the Indian government stepped in and torpedoed the tour.
Whatever, the damage has been done. The PCB Chairman once again seems to be down on his knees asking for redemption. And 50 million dollars.