Asia Cup postponement not a good omen

Published: Sunday, December 11, 2005, 23:53 [IST]
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Lahore:The postponement of the six-nation Asia Cup will hamper the development of cricket in the region and deprive the sport of much-needed revenue, an official said.

"It (postponement) is a significant loss to cricket in the continent, because the finances generated were due to be spent on development," Ashraful Haq, chief executive of the Asian Cricket Council, told AFP on Sunday from Kuala Lumpur.

The biennial event scheduled in Pakistan early next year was postponed last week over India's complaint that their players faced a gruelling schedule and it would not be feasible to hold the tournament.

Defending champions Sri Lanka, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, the United Arab Emirates and Oman were due to take part in the event scheduled from February 16-28.

Hosts Pakistan, who have yet to hold the event since it began in 1982, agreed to India's request to postpone the limited-overs tournament.

Haq said the event now cannot be held until 2008.

"Since the schedules of teams at international level are so hectic it would not be possible to hold the Asia Cup until 2008," he said, adding, "an ideal opportunity to distribute funds among member countries was wasted."

Haq said 18 Asian countries would be hurt by the postponement.

"Countries like Oman, Afghanistan, Hong Kong, Nepal and the Maldives needed these funds to raise the infrastructure, but they now have to wait for a few more years," said Haq, a former secretary of the Bangladesh Cricket Board.

The Asia Cup was expected to generate around 16.5 million dollars from television rights and sales.

The Asian Test-playing countries -- India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka -- received 2.5 million dollars each from the 19 million dollars in revenues from the Asia Cup held in Sri Lanka last year.

Hong Kong and the UAE, who featured in the Asia Cup 2004, received 300,000 dollars each, while the rest of the fund was spent on developing cricket in the associate member nations.

The postponment of the Asia Cup, however, allowed India to finish next year's tour of Pakistan early and push forward the dates of their home series against England by a week.

England now arrive in India around mid-February to play three Tests and seven one-day internationals.

The ninth edition of the Asia Cup was planned by Asian Cricket Council chief Jagmohan Dalmiya whose faction lost in the BCCI (Board of Control for Cricket in India) elections last month.

Dalmiya also stepped down as ACC president. His place is due to be taken by new BCCI chief Sharad Pawar until India's term expires in June next year.

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