Ashraf Ali Siddiqui glances at contentious cricket matters
Unsettled Cricket Affairs – The impending Asia Cup appears to be in peril as the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) is still waiting for the Asian Cricket Council to call-up its executive committee meeting to decide the fate of the Asia Cup with the tournament now just two months away. Pakistan is the rightful hosts of Asia Cup and in this connection has proposed a hybrid model that would see Pakistan hold the tournament’s first-round matches excluding those involving India at home before the competition moves to a neutral venue where the latter would feature but there has been no development on the matter at the official level but it is unofficially reported that PCB was left with no option but to either play the Asia Cup in its entirety at a venue other than Pakistan or to withdraw from the tournament that the PCB may decline.
It is also reported that key ACC members Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Afghanistan, have all backed the BCCI’s (Board of Control for Cricket in India) push for moving the tournament out of Pakistan. The push in question is the one that BCCI had reportedly made on the sidelines of the Indian Premier League final on 27 May in the presence of Afghanistan Cricket Board and Sri Lanka Cricket representatives. Reportedly, the SLC is ready to host the Asia Cup if it is officially moved out of Pakistan and its bid is being backed by other members including the BCCI. Interestingly, ACC members other than India have indicated that they have no problems with the hybrid-model or playing in Pakistan. However, these members have also not made any official communication to the PCB about their reported change of mind. It has also been reported that the PCB has turned down Sri Lanka’s offer for a three-match One-day International series around Pakistan’s two-Test tour to the country in July.
It is also reported that if the hybrid model is not accepted then PCB may withdraw Pakistan team from the upcoming World Cup scheduled to be played in October-November in India. Curiously, the problem could extend to the 2025 ICC Champions Trophy, the hosting rights of which were awarded to Pakistan two years ago. The BCCI, once again due to pressure from Modi government, may well refuse to travel across the border. The global cricketing governing body, ICC, has maintained silence over the matter despite.
In an interesting development, England all-rounder Moeen Ali, who retired from Test cricket in September 2021, has been added to the Ashes squad for the first two Tests after spinner Jack Leach was ruled out of the series. The 35-year-old stepped away from the game’s longest format to focus on limited-overs cricket but reversed his decision. Moeen made his Test debut in 2014 and played his last Test against India at the Oval in September 2021. He scored 2,914 runs in 64 Tests at an average of 28.29 and picked up 195 wickets with his off-spin. The Ashes gets under way at Edgbaston on 16 June. The Weekender