By Syed Khalid Mahmood
Ehsan Mani, a former President of the International Cricket Council (ICC), has re-started blaming the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) at a time when the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) is trying to mend fences with the neighbours.
I fail to comprehend what service the former ICC President is doing to the Pakistan cricket with this blame game. He has accused the BCCI of trying to isolate Pakistan from the cricketing world and held it responsible for turning down the proposition of holding Pakistan's share of the 2011 World Cup matches at neutral venues.
A few months ago he had held India responsible for having engineered a split in the Asian bloc to deprive Pakistan of hosting rights for the 2011 World Cup following the attack on Sri Lankan cricketers in Lahore. He was of the opinion that the BCCI was doing so in the fear of losing the tournament altogether.
As a former chief of the controlling body of the game Ehsan Mani should have refrained from using the kind of language he did out in the open.
"I can say this with conviction that no board is today able to stand up to the Indian board in the ICC. Unfortunately, it is all about making money these days and the Indians dominate," he was quoted as saying.
Did he disclose any secret or was it breaking news of sorts? It was neither because everyone knows that India happens to be the biggest market and the bulk of the revenue for cricket is generated from there. Obviously the BCCI has greater significance in the ICC because of the financial reasons.
The BCCI or that matter the ICC could not be blamed for the excessive commercialization of the sport. Cricket has become an industry and its administrators are keen to market it as a very strong brand.
Ehsan Mani has had the feeling that the BCCI was instrumental in depriving Pakistan from staging their matches even at neutral venues.
"I know for a fact that this was decided, but India turned it down at the cricket committee meeting and since Saleem Altaf was representing Pakistan in Ijaz Butt's absence things went wrong somewhere. India then insisted that the matches should only be held in the South Asian region,” Ehsan Mani said.
"In a calculated manner, India is trying to isolate Pakistan from international cricket. No board is willing to support us and we have no inputs coming from other boards. No one including the ICC is willing to answer the most important question: what happens if relations don't improve between India and Pakistan. Will Pakistan get permission to play its matches in India?” he questioned.
"Given the existing relations between the two countries, any untoward incident can trigger off more problems. Then is the ICC willing to organize the World Cup without Pakistan?" he asked.
Ehsan Mani has every right to voice his concerns but he should also keep into account the nature of his outburst and its implications. May be he thinks that Pakistan’s cause will be helped in some way with this kind of attitude.
September 11, 2009