Cricket has not been easy between India and Pakistan. With Kashmir as a bone of contention between the two nations, both of which claim authority over it, the lines between politics or any other matter also blur between the arch-rivals.
Entangled in politics of two rivals even before it began, the controversy around Kashmir Premier League (KPL) — the T20 league based out of Pakistan administered Kashmir (PaK) — has mounted to its peak, with the Indian cricket board approaching the International Cricket Council (ICC) to not recognize the tournament.
But the ICC refused to meddle in this. “The tournament is not under ICC’s jurisdiction as it is not an international cricket tournament,” an ICC spokesperson told Geo TV.
The BCCI has also drawn the line for those expected to be associated with the upcoming league. It informally told cricket boards around the world that those participating in KPL would be barred from playing in leagues in India or having any commercial connection with the BCCI.
“While asking the boards not to allow their players to take part in the Kashmir league, we have informed them that in case they do, they can’t be part of any cricketing activity in India. We have done this keeping national interest in mind,” a top BCCI official was quoted by The Indian Express.
KPL is scheduled to be held on August 6. The T20 format KPL will be played in the Muzaffarabad stadium with six teams.
Players warned against playing in KPL
Earlier last week, former South African opener Herschelle Gibbs condemned the BCCI’s threat preventing him from playing in the KPL, which is conducted by the Pakistan Cricket Board.
In a tweet, the right-handed batsmen said that the BCCI is bringing its political agenda and trying to prevent him from playing in the KPL.
Rashid Latif, the former Pakistan wicketkeeper, also tweeted about the BCCI’s approach towards the players participating in the Kashmir Premier League.
Former England left-arm spinner Monty Panesar, on the other hand, pulled out of the tournament in a more diplomatic way.
“I have decided not to participate in the KPL because of the political tensions between India and Pakistan over Kashmir issues. I don’t want to be in the middle of this, it would make me feel uncomfortable,” he tweeted.
BCCI vs PCB—war of words
More than just about a game of cricket, the KPL is an attempt by Pakistan to score a major diplomatic point, one that India is determined to stop.
PCB in a statement said that BCCI’s conduct is unacceptable. “(It is) against the preamble of the Spirit of Cricket and sets a dangerous precedence, which can neither be tolerated nor ignored. The PCB will raise this matter at the appropriate ICC forum and also reserves the right to take any further action that is available to us within the ICC charter,” PCB said.
The BCCI dismissed the PCB statement. ANI quoted a BCCI official as saying that the board would be well within their rights to take decisions with respect to the cricketing ecosystem in India.
“The fact that the Indian cricketing ecosystem is the most sought after for cricketing opportunities globally, should not be envied by the PCB.”
The BCCI official said the PCB was “confused” and that allowing or disallowing anyone from playing cricket in India was “purely an internal matter”
The BCCI is definitely trying to queer the KPL pitch. It is directly dealing with the cricketers and the boards they belong to, rather than directly attacking the tournament, thereby fetching a point in its pocket. If KPL is held anyway, it is again Pakistan’s diplomatic win.