That's just not cricket, BCCI

That's just not cricket, BCCI
The Pakistan Cricket Board’s (PCB) demand that the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) should pay a compensation of $70 million to it for not playing two home bilateral match series is not just a legal issue to be settled by the ICC. There is a breach of contract involved in the matter as the two boards had entered into an agreement to play six bilateral series between 2015 and 2023. The agreement was signed in 2014 but no series has yet taken place because of inaction on the part of the BCCI. The BCCI did not act because the government was not keen on the matches and withheld clearance for them. The failure of the BCCI to honour the agreement has legal and financial implications, but there are other issues involved which show India in a poor light. India’s policy on cricketing relations with Pakistan has been hypocritical and marked by inconsistency and double standards. It cannot be justified on any ground.

The government’s refusal to grant permission for India-Pakistan cricket matches is political. The policy is wrong, unreasonable and contradictory. There is no bar on India playing Pakistan at any level in many other games. Pakistani athletes and players participated in the South Asian Federation games of SAARC countries in Assam in 2016. Games like chess and kabaddi are regularly played between the two sides. Why should cricket be excluded and given special adverse treatment then? Even in the case of cricket, India plays Pakistan in ICC-conducted World Cup, World T20 and Champions Trophy tournaments. If India can play Pakistan in such matches there is no rationale for not playing bilateral matches. If the security of players is a consideration, the matches can be held in neutral venues like the UAE, the UK or Sri Lanka. 

Mixing sports and politics is wrong, and bad for both. Cricket has great following in both India and Pakistan. It is a religion for many in both countries. Players of one country are admired and have large a fan following in the other. This should actually be used to improve the fraught relations between the two countries. What is common between the two countries offers the best platform for building bridges. Countries interact with one another at many levels. India has diplomatic, people-to-people, cultural and trade relations with Pakistan. There is an opportunity to project its soft power in cricket to Pakistan with bilateral engagements. Sports, like the arts and other people-centred activities, help to bind people. India should abandon its retrograde policy. It’s just not cricket. The BCCI must promote cricketing relations with Pakistan.
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