Ashraf Ali Siddiqui describes a difficult situation
Hardly six months before the date when the Clouds Hovering Over Cricket World Cup is scheduled to begin in India the regional strategic entanglements have come in between to become an impediment to the most coveted championship. These impediments have caused a delay in finalising the details of the event that has given jitters to the cricket lovers. The ensuing delay is in stark contrast to the 2019 tournament when the dates and venues for the tournament in England and Wales were announced more than a year out in keeping with usual practice for major sporting events. The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has previously co-hosted three ODI World Cups and organising the 10-team event in October-November should present no major difficulties for the world’s richest board.
This time, however, conflicting political relations between India and Pakistan have complicated matters and cricket finds itself caught in the geopolitical crossfire between the feuding neighbours who play each other only in multi-team events. India has ruled out travelling to Pakistan for the Asia Cup in September and is likely to play their matches at a neutral venue after organisers agreed on a hybrid model, a move that looks likely to prompt a tit-for-tat response. Though the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) denied media reports that it had made a similar demand at the ICC board meetings in Dubai last month but said it may push for the hybrid model at the proper ICC forum at the right time.
Should Pakistan agree to travel to India, the BCCI would have to secure visa clearance from the Indian government. It is reported that moving matches out of India had not even been discussed and the fixtures would be announced in due course. It is also reported that the BCCI has yet to obtain a tax exemption for the tournament from the Indian government which is part of the hosting agreement it signed with the ICC. Should it fail to obtain the exemption the BCCI has said the amount could be deducted from its share of the ICC’s central revenue pool.
Despite the setback the BCCI is confident that the forthcoming event would be memorable. It is not clear whether Pakistan will agree to playing in it. In the meanwhile it is reported that the World Cup will start on 5 October with the final scheduled at the world’s largest cricket stadium in Ahmedabad on 19 November. TW