Call it BCCI’s hypocrisy or ICC’s duplicity; it doesn’t matter, for many believe BCCI controls the ICC, no matter what reasons are given to them to prove the stated ‘fact’ wrong.
I am talking about the absence of Pakistani players and presence of a Pakistani commentator in the second edition of the extravagantly, lucratively entertaining Indian Premier League, the DLF IPL 2009.
I do not have only this one instance of proving BCCI’s double standards. England’s tour to India at the end of 2008 faced some disruptions due to the unexpected and sad incident on 26th November, where over a hundred and fifty innocent people were slaughtered in Mumbai, India’s economic capital, in the name of ‘Jihad’.
England had returned home immediately after the fifth ODI due to security reasons. India had severed all ties with Pakistan on grounds that Pakistani nationals were involved in the massacre. “All ties” included cricket. Pakistani artists, actors and singers,
were banned from performing in India due to the strained relationship.
England returned after repeated and guaranteed security assurance for the Test series by the BCCI, after the remaining two ODIs were scrapped. What we saw next was Umpire Asad Rauf in the second Test match in Mohali. Why?
If there are no Pakistani players in tournaments that includes Indian players, why have Pakistani umpires or for that matter even Pakistani commentators. Don’t get me wrong. My point here is not keeping out the Pakistani nationals out of the game entirely. The only thing I want to state here is that either all (players, umpires and commentators) should be allowed or the BCCI should be strong enough to take a call on keeping Pakistan out of all its activities.
More so, the ICC should live up to its name and try to maintain the spirit of the gentleman’s game. If the ICC has the power to ‘not recognise’ the ICL if BCCI thinks it is their stiff competition, I think it has enough power to ‘order’ the BCCI to act responsibly and uplift the stature of the game rather than do something silly like keeping the Pakistan players out and officials in after cutting all ties with the Islamic nation.
I am sure, or at least I hope that many would agree with me on my point of view that the absence of the players from the neighbourhood has taken some spice away, if not a lot. All of us remember how the entire crowd at the Eden Gardens was on its feet with the return of Shoaib Akhtar for Kolkata Knight Riders and how Sohail Tanvir (Highest Wicket-Taker in IPL 08), ripped apart Rajasthan Royals’ opposition to give his team the ultimate gift, the IPL Trophy.
Who can forget the moments when Shoaib Malik celebrated a fall of the opponent’s wicket with Virender Sehwag or Shahid Afridi went boom boom with Rohit Sharma at the other end of the crease. It was soothing to see the Indo-Pak relations get better, even if was just on the cricket field. Cricket was supposedly the only golden thread between the two nations and the only option left to improve relations between the bitter neighbours.
An India-Pakistan match used to be referred to as the ‘Mother-of-all-battles’. But it has been slit. What benefit did the IPL derive from keeping the Pakistan players out except pushing itself into legal trouble?
For once, it can be understood that the IPL authorities ‘cared’ for the security of the Pak players in India with all the anti-Pakistan sentiments growing in the country, after 26/11. But when the entire tournament was shifted across the globe all the way to South Africa, the BCCI could have done more than just straining relations with their cricketing rivals (by not including the Pakistan players) even further and leaving no knots on their side to hold and pull back to build goodwill with the neighbours again.
(The views expressed by the author are personal)