Political intervention in India-Pakistan cricket ties a tragedy: Sethi

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Kolkata, April 23 (IANS) Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chief Najam Sethi on Monday termed India and Pakistan not playing bilateral series due to political tensions as a “tragedy” for the fans, adding that the ball is now in the BCCI’s court in terms of resumption of the ties.

“My view is that Pakistan and India play cricket in such a manner that no other country can match them. The most profitable series has only been between India and Pakistan, whenever we play… The most competitive and enjoyable series is that,” Sethi told reporters on the sidelines of the five-day ICC meeting here.

“It is a great tragedy that the fans of cricket in India, Pakistan and the whole world are being deprived of this opportunity to see their two favourite countries play cricket. I don’t like to bring politics. But it’s a sad day when politics comes into cricket and affects cricketing ties.”

The prevailing socio-political relations between the two neighbouring countries and security issues have brought bilateral series to a halt.

The BCCI has said it can only go ahead and play a bilateral series if the Central government allows.

Sethi slammed the BCCI and said they should not have signed the contract in the first place if they had reservations.

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Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) has asked for $70 million as compensation from the BCCI for not honouring the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), which required the two countries to play five bilateral series in an eight year cycle between 2015-2023.

“The issue was not having bilateral ties in India or Pakistan. The contract says that they will play in the UAE or any other mutually agreed country.

“From what I hear in the media, the BCCI is not ready to play us even in a neutral venue. Our position is that the whole notion of a neutral venue came up when security was a consideration.

“For example, when the Champions Trophy was being held two years ago I came to Kolkata. At that time, one of the matches was scheduled somewhere else.

“And we sent our security people and they discussed the matter with ICC and BCCI and then the match was moved from there to Kolkata for security reasons and then we played. So security becomes an issue only if each side plays the other in the other country,” Sethi said.

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In 2016, the India-Pakistan World Twenty20 match was shifted from Dharamsala to Kolkata amid the security concerns raised by the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) over Dharamsala.

Asked about the compensation case filed by the PCB against the BCCI before the ICC Disputes Resolution Committee for India’s refusal to play Pakistan in bilateral series, Sethi said, “The current FTP that everybody else is planning for the next five years has more or less been settled.

“India has not slotted any games for Pakistan. In principle, we have said alright if this is the way you want it fine, but we will only agree to this FTP subject to what decision is taken in the dispute resolution committee. If the decision is in our favour, they will have to change the FTP.”

Sethi said a three-member ICC panel will hear the claim in October.

“So whatever we do here regarding the FTP and direct bilateral series between India and Pakistan matches is subject to the ICC decision which should be available by October-November,” he said.

At present, the two countries only play in multi-team events like the 50-over World Cup, Champions Trophy, World T20 or Asia Cup.

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“We have gone to the tribunal saying India has violated a contract and we have put forward a figure of $70 million for the two series that India was supposed to play and has not played with us,” Sethi said.

“So the two issues before the tribunal are whether there is a contract that India has to honour and if there is a contract, then what is the claim for damages. So those two questions are going to be discussed. Currently the situation is, we have submitted our preliminary position in writing. The Indians have not yet submitted their position in writing, they are still looking at our position and asking various questions.

“But I think within the next month or so, the Indian point of view will also be available. Our position is, we want to speed up the process of decision making. In principle, the dispute resolution committee has said that once all the paper work and documents are in from both sides, they will take three days in which they will come to a decision.”

–IANS

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