The PCB and the BCCI will face off in Bahrain on February 4 over their dispute regarding the Indian board secretary Jay Shah’s announcement of the Asian Cricket Council’s (ACC) calendar of events for 2023 and 2024, which the PCB has alleged was made in a “unilateral” manner, without keeping the Pakistan board in the loop. Shah is also president of the ACC.
The PCB has sought an emergency ACC Board meeting, which PCB chairman Najam Sethi announced will take place next month.
“For some time there hasn’t been any ACC Board meeting and there were a lot of decisions being made and one of them we have challenged,” Sethi said in a press conference. “Now the good news is that we managed to convince them to have their Board meeting and I will be attending it.”
Tensions had simmered between the two boards during the previous PCB chairman Ramiz Raja’s tenure, specifically over the venue of the 2023 Asia Cup, which is scheduled for September in Pakistan. But it was thrown into uncertainty when Shah, soon after a BCCI meeting last October, said the tournament would move to a neutral venue because India could not travel to Pakistan.
During his previous tenure, Sethi took an aggressive stance by taking legal route against the BCCI for not honouring an agreement to play bilateral series in 2014 and 2015, which the PCB claimed was a legal breach. The PCB eventually lost the case as the ICC dispute resolution committee said the claim “must fail” because the agreement signed between the boards carried a “moral obligation” but not a legal one, and the PCB had to later pay the BCCI a hefty compensation.
Sethi returned to the PCB office last month after Pakistan Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif removed Raja and his Board to form a management committee to run cricket affairs. When asked if Pakistan would have an aggressive stance against the BCCI if India refuse to come to Pakistan for the Asia Cup, Sethi said: “We have to look at what we can do but we can’t [fight] another case, but I can say that that case wasn’t handled properly and I think we didn’t give a good fight. But eventually, even judges said that if you look through the microscope this case is in favour of Pakistan but if you see this case with a telescope this is going in India’s favour. So in nutshell, with all the nitty-gritty it’s Pakistan’s case, but then their stance was that it’s the [Indian] government which isn’t allowing us [to tour Pakistan].”
Pakistan-India ties have deteriorated over the years as a result of stormy political relations between the two countries. India and Pakistan have not played each other in a bilateral series since 2012-13, when Pakistan toured India for a limited-overs series. Their encounters have been limited to ICC and ACC events, and while the Indian men’s team has not played any match in Pakistan since 2008, Pakistan last travelled to India for the 2016 T20 World Cup.
After years of isolation following the 2009 attack on Sri Lanka’s team bus in Lahore, Pakistan has returned to hosting international cricket regularly over the last three years, with nearly all full members (other than India) visiting the country for red- and white-ball cricket. The 2022 Asia Cup (postponed from 2021) was originally meant to be hosted by Pakistan, but the event was eventually hosted by Sri Lanka in the UAE.
The PCB is intent in its stance of hosting the 2023 Asia Cup, but Sethi was not willing to divulge the options ahead of the board.
“All expected discussions and what the possible options are, I am keeping close to my chest for now,” he said. “I don’t want to hint at anything about what will be my possible stance there. Whatever the stance is, it will be according to the interests of Pakistan.”