The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) secretary Amitabh Choudhary has reiterated that the BCCI cannot do much except waiting for the government approval when it comes to resuming bilateral ties with Pakistan.
Last week, the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) had sent their Indian counterparts a notice under the ICC Dispute Resolution Committee’s terms of reference for failing to honour the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), which according to the Pakistan board was signed in 2014.
On their part, the BCCI stated that the MoU was in fact just a letter and not a formal contract. But at the same time, they expressed their desire of honouring the letter because it was written with the intent to do so, provided the government gave the permission.
According to the Pakistan board, both the cricket boards, in 2014, had signed the MoU for six bilateral series to be played between 2015 and 2023. But with political tensions between the two neighbours escalating in recent times, the Indian team not been able to resume the bilateral ties with Pakistan.
The arch-rivals have not played a full bilateral Test series after the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks which led to the suspension of cricketing ties between the two countries.They played a short series of three ODIs and two T20 matches in India in December 2012 but otherwise, they have met only in ICC-organised events or the Asia Cup.
“I can assure you that this is a subject where the government has to accord permission,” Choudhary was quoted as saying by ESPNcricinfo.“I must inform you that the BCCI has already written to the government in March with regard to the FTP with Pakistan. Unless we hear from them, I cannot make a comment. As far as cricket concerned, if it is a contract, both would try to honour.”
When asked if the MoU could be revoked if the government does not give the go-ahead, Choudhary said: “I don’t remember the exact wordings but it is inherent. Honouring of it cannot happen without the government’s permission. In any case, it was just a communication, it was just a letter from the secretary of BCCI. So it is not a formal contract as yet.”
With conditions in Pakistan not suitable to play due to security reasons, there were rumours that the PCB was willing to host India at a neutral venue. However, Rajeev Shukla, former BCCI vice-president and IPL chairman, said that the BCCI is unlikely to play at a neutral venue.
“We have had a consistent policy that we will play on each other’s soil,” Shukla said. “Pakistan’s security situation is not such where you can have a series on their soil. Only Zimbabwe has played a series and no other countries are touring Pakistan. They are not being able to provide adequate security. First, you make your venues such where you can provide fool-proof security. And for India, the security concerns are even more. How can we risk our players?”
Last year, India and West Indies had played a T20 series in the United States. When reminded of that, Shukla said: “That was done by mutual consent. We were exploring the US market. It was our series. It’s not as if we couldn’t play in West Indies and hence played in the US.”