Cricket diplomacy with Pakistan can wait

There are other neutral venues the cash-starved PCB can think of

It is up to the cricket boards of India and Pakistan to decide if they wish to pursue ties on the field anywhere in the world. The temperature of the political climate is so abnormal at the moment that neither government may be willing to push cricket as the great icebreaker, a role the game may have played in the past. And since there is no sense of urgency to the talks between the two countries at present, it is unlikely that any diplomatic overture will be made through cricket, which used to represent an island of calm and good relations between the peoples of the two countries.

While the Board of Control for Cricket in India and the Pakistan Cricket Board are keen on playing cricket, they are at loggerheads over the common meeting ground since Pakistan has been a cricketing no-go area ever since the Sri Lankan team came under extremist fire on the streets of Lahore in 2009. The argument over whether the UAE, adopted by Pakistan as its “home ground”, is an ideal venue just got more complicated by the revelation that a recent one-day match between Pakistan and England is under the scanner of the ICC’s match-fixing watchdog.

There are other neutral venues the cash-starved PCB can think of. Ironically, Sri Lanka might appear to be the most peaceful spot. The PCB is currently using its participation in the world T20 championship, scheduled to be played in India early next year, as a bargaining chip without realising that any boycott of prestigious multilateral events like the World Cup would only be detrimental to its own interests, not only to its cricket but also to its finances.

There is no harm in seeking resumption of cricket as the BCCI must also nurse a sense of duty towards promoting world cricket as it is the leader of the ICC. Some sort of compromise may have to be struck over the venue although the problem is that in the absence of a strong diplomatic push backed by the governments a third country, like Sri Lanka, may not wish to lay out the kind of security international athletes are owed, particularly in the Asian environment.

The window in a busy schedule for Team India this season is also so narrow as to present considerable logistical difficulties in fitting the proposed bilateral series to be hosted by Pakistan into December. There is also an additional aspect to worry about after the pattern seen in the latest Parisian terror attacks in which a sports stadium was also targeted. Sport was considered a low terror target since the 1972 Olympics because of the negative publicity to perpetrators. Lahore changed that, so too Paris now. The time may not really be ripe for the balm that we seek through cricket in a larger India-Pakistan political perspective.

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( Source : deccan chronicle )
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