Thatscricket - News - Off-field events mar run-up to Indo-Pak series

Published: Wednesday, January 28, 2004, 19:29 [IST]
Share this on your social network:
   Facebook Twitter Google+    Comments Mail

New Delhi:Bizarre off-field events are ruining the build-up to the upcoming cricket Test series between India and Pakistan even as officials from both sides struggle to finalise the schedule.

The ice-breaking series, India's first in Pakistan in almost 15 years, was announced with much fanfare in October following a thaw in political tensions between the South Asian arch-rivals.

But three months later, neither the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) nor the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) have been able to draw up an itinerary for the tour scheduled to be held in March-April.

Worse, confusion reigns over television and sponsorship rights for what is potentially a money-spinning series and conflicting reports on the reluctance of the Indian players to undertake the tour.

Media reports on Wednesday said a Pakistani marketing man Zahid Bashir was in India negotiating with television companies, including the Government-run Doordarshan, to cover the series.

But it appears Bashir has no locus standi to deal on behalf of the PCB, since he was sacked as its marketing manager on January 2 soon after former diplomat Shahrayar Khan took over as PCB chief.

"The Pakistan Board is not obliged to fulfill any obligations or deals Bashir may have made in India," PCB spokesman Samiul Hasan said.

The PCB insists it is not even seeking to sell TV rights for the series since there is already an agreement in place with the Dubai-based TEN Sports channel, which holds the rights for all international cricket being played in Pakistan.

The itinerary for three Tests and five One-day Internationals has not been finalised due to reported differences over playing in Karachi and Peshawar, two centres that were boycotted by South Africa last year due to security concerns.

Indian and Pakistani officials are tight-lipped over the reasons for the delay in announcing the itinerary, resulting in frenzied speculation in the media in both countries.

It is said that Pakistan wanted the tour to start in Karachi, but the Indians preferred Lahore.

And while there was agreement in playing Test matches at these two major centres, the Indians reportedly wanted the remaining Test to be played in Faisalabad or Rawalpindi instead of the north-western city of Peshawar.

The Indian team, meanwhile, is said to be unhappy that more time was being spent on trying to generate revenues for the tour than on its security aspects.

"We get a feeling they are happy to just have the tour and send us off," an unnamed senior player currently on tour in Australia, was quoted as saying recently.

"There seems to be more talk of television revenues rather than security which is disturbing. We don't mind going at all but feel everything is being rushed."

The BCCI, in response to the players' reported concerns, decided to send a fact-finding team to Pakistan to study the security being planned for the tour.

But that visit has yet to take place because BCCI secretary Karunakaran Nair is busy elsewhere, touring the Netherlands to find a suitable venue for a One-day series between India, Pakistan and Australia being planned in Amstelveen in August.

"All in good time," a BCCI official said, but could not explain why it was more important to plan for August when more urgent matters were pending.

India last played a Test match in Pakistan in 1989, while Pakistan crossed the borders in 1999 for three Tests.

PCB seeks Akram's help to coach speedsters

Write Comments