PCB seeks clarification on India series in December
The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) has, in a letter to the BCCI, sought clarity on the mooted bilateral series this December, pointing out that it was part of a memorandum of understanding (MOU) signed last year by the two boards. The letter, written on Tuesday by PCB chairman Shaharyar Khan to BCCI secretary Anurag Thakur, comes in the wake of a growing sentiment in India – and echoed by the BCCI – that bilateral cricket ties should be suspended given the current political tensions between the two countries.
The MOU, for a total of six series between 2015 and 2023, had been agreed to during the ICC meeting last year and was the basis of Pakistan’s conditional support – after initial opposition – to the ICC’s organisational revamp.
However political events in the recent past have cast doubts over the revival of the India-Pakistan series as planned. Thakur himself scotched the possibility of cricket resuming till political equations had stabilised. In his letter today, Shaharyar called Thakur’s statement a “negative shadow” on the PCB-BCCI relationship.
“I am much hopeful that the Indian government will give its go-ahead to our series regardless of any routine border tension,” Shaharyar wrote. He said the series would help both countries reduce the tension, referring to the series in 1999 when Pakistan toured India despite issues caused by fringe political activists, as well as the return tour by India to Pakistan in 2003-04 despite security concerns.
The letter also addressed the issues surrounding Ten Sports’ deal with the PCB. The PCB had recently signed a five-year deal with the broadcaster, but its ties to the Essel Group, which has threatened to form a breakaway international league, had caused issues.
ESPNcricinfo understands that some cricket boards had been reluctant to play any series in which Ten Sports is the host broadcaster, leading to a delay in firming up the plans for a series between England and Pakistan.
Shaharyar said in the letter that the issues had been resolved and ICC and Ten Sports had agreed on an MOU in which the broadcaster stated that it has no intention of being part of any rival league. Shaharyar met Subhash Chandra (the owner of Ten Sports) in London last month to clear any doubts on the matter. The MOU between the ICC and Ten Sports is, however, reportedly yet to be reviewed by the BCCI.
India have not played a bilateral Test series against Pakistan since 2007, though they did host them for two T20Is and three ODIs between December 2012 and January 2013.
Umar Farooq is ESPNcricinfo’s Pakistan correspondent. @kalson