Asian stand likely to jettison ICC, lead to a vertical split

Published: Monday, February 18, 2002, 23:53 [IST]
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Sharjah: Asia's cricket chiefs launched a scathing attack on the sport's world governing body on Sunday, saying the region's sentiments were not being respected. The Asian Cricket Council (ACC), which met over the weekend, decided to serve an ultimatum to the International Cricket Council (ICC) that could lead to a virtual split in the world game. The ACC resolved to support India's stand that a Referees Commission meeting should be put on hold till the issue was discussed at the ICC's executive board meet in Cape Town in March. The ICC, which has already rejected the proposal to put off the February 23 meeting of the commission, may now be left with no option but to seek a vote on the contentious issue in Cape Town. India was unhappy at the composition of the commission, which is to probe the penalties imposed by match referee Mike Denness on six Indian cricketers during a Test match in South Africa last year. The ICC rejected the names proposed by India, and instead appointed Justice P Sachs of South Africa, Andrew Hilditch of Australia and Majid Khan of Pakistan to the commission. With the four Asian votes - India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh - pledged in favour of India, the ACC needs just one more vote among the remaining six members of the executive board to jettison any ICC ruling. The executive board comprises the 10 Test-playing nations, and an ACC source said that support of Zimbabwe, South Africa and the West Indies was "guaranteed". "Only England, Australia and New Zealand may go the other way," the source said. Pakistan Cricket Board chairman, Tauqir Zia, who also heads the ACC told a news conference here that "Asia's voice must be heard". In another resolution, the ACC said that any country refusing to tour the Indian sub- continent would be boycotted by all the four Test-playing nations of the region. New Zealand, which is undecided about touring Pakistan in April, could be the first non-Asian nation to face the boycott. "What we want from the ICC is that there should be some form of compensation...around a million Dollars... to the host country if a team declined to play there," Zia said. "If the ICC does not accept this recommendation, the four Test-playing nations of Asia will automatically refuse either to visit or host that country." Zia hoped there will be no Test series again at a neutral venue, like the recent one between Pakistan and the West Indies in Sharjah, which was forced by a West Indian refusal to play in Pakistan. "The West Indies could easily have played in Pakistan," Zia said. "In fact, even New Zealand should have stuck to its scheduled tour of Pakistan last October. "I am saying this because the situation in Pakistan is no different now than it was on September 11," said Zia, a serving general in the Pakistani Army. Zia also stressed that he will not support any suggestions to have New Zealand play Pakistan at a neutral venue. "If it refuses to come, the ICC should either give us compensation, or the four Test nations from Asia will boycott New Zealand," he said. "Teams are refusing to tour because they do not get appearance money from the hosts, like in the past. And this is not good for the game." The united stand by Asian cricket nations comes despite the Indian government's repeated refusal to allow its national team to play in Pakistan because of the political dispute over Kashmir. "That India is not allowed to play against Pakistan is a cause of worry," Zia said. "The matter, however, is out of the Indian Board's hands since it is a government decision and the ACC appreciates the reasons leading to this impasse. "We are confident India and Pakistan will play each other in the near future, and the Boards of these two countries are solidly behind each other."

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