New Delhi: Former South African President Nelson Mandela may be asked to persuade India and Pakistan to resume cricket ties amidst border tensions between the South Asian neighbours, officials said on Tuesday.
India's refusal to play cricket against Pakistan in protest at Islamabad's alleged support of insurgency in Kashmir has quashed the most sought-after rivalry in the sport. It has also played havoc with the International Cricket Council's (ICC) ambitious 10- year Test calendar, besides causing millions of Dollars of lost revenues from sponsorship and television rights. The ICC first mooted the idea of roping in Mandela to mediate three months ago, and the proposal was taken up by the Asian Cricket Council (ACC) meeting in London on Sunday. "We will try through Nelson Mandela to convince India to end its cricket boycott of Pakistan," said the ACC's newly-elected president, Ali Asghar of Bangladesh. "The resumption of cricket between India and Pakistan is an issue of immense importance for the ICC and the ACC." ICC's media manager Mark Harrison confirmed that overtures had been made to Mandela, but it was not clear if the octogenarian Nobel Peace Prize winner had agreed to mediate. "Yes, this was discussed in the ICC meeting but I cannot update it further. The ICC is doing its best to get cricketing ties resumed between India and Pakistan," he said. At last week's ICC meetings in London, Pakistan declined to accept the 10-year Test calendar till the governing body persuaded India to end its cricketing boycott of Pakistan. India's sports minister Uma Bharti said last month she had no objection to India playing against Pakistan at multi-nation events like the World Cup, but ruled out bilateral Test and One-day matches. Bharti confirmed that India will take part in the International Cricket Council's Champions Trophy in Sri Lanka in September and the World Cup in South Africa early next year. India is scheduled to play a league match against Pakistan in the World Cup in February-March next year. The two countries have, however, been drawn in separate groups in the Champions Trophy, but will have to face each other if they make the final.
Thatscricket Special: World Cup 2003