Former cricketers believe BCCI secretary Jay Shah’s revelation that India won’t come to Pakistan to play the 2023 Asia Cup, and the event can instead be played on a neutral venue, is ‘absolutely wrong’.
When contacted, former right-arm pacer Mohammad Sami, former left-arm fast-bowler Saleem Jaffer and former all-rounder Iqbal Imam said sports and politics should be kept separate.
“Absolutely not,” Sami told The Express Tribune, when asked if India’s decision to not visit Pakistan amidst the hot political climate between the Asian neighbours was right.
“Mixing politics and sports is never right.”
Jaffer couldn’t comment on whether India’s decision was right or wrong, or whether PCB should take a strong stance if the 2023 Asia Cup is shifted to a neutral venue, due to his work with the Pakistan board.
However, he did condemn mixing sports and politics. “Sports and politics should be kept separate. Sports is supposed to actually bring people closer, who are divided by political or physical boundaries,” Jaffer told The Express Tribune.
Imam reminded India that Pakistani government and the PCB always took a step forward to heal the rift.
“Their decision is absolutely wrong,” Imam told The Express Tribune.
“The Pakistan Cricket Board always come on the front foot to invite India to play and go there too [for the 2016 T20 World Cup].”
Imam added that Pakistan shouldn’t boycott the 2023 ODI World Cup, even if India doesn’t visit Pakistan for the Asia Cup.
“If someone is doing something wrong that doesn’t mean you should too. We have a big heart as a country and as a people, so we shouldn’t back out of the 2023 ODI World Cup.
“The ICC should step in too and ask India to visit Pakistan for Asia Cup.”
PCB reacts to Shah’s statement
The PCB on Wednesday said that Shah’s statement caused ‘surprise and disappointment’.
“The PCB has noted with surprise and disappointment comments made by the ACC President Jay Shah with regards to shifting of next year’s Asia Cup to a neutral venue. The comments were made without any discussion or consultation with the Board of the Asian Cricket Council or the Pakistan Cricket Board (event host) and without any thoughts towards their long-term consequences and implications.
“After having presided over the ACC meeting during which Pakistan was awarded the ACC Asia Cup with an overwhelming support and response from the ACC Board Members, Shah’s statement of shifting of the ACC Asia Cup has clearly been made unilaterally.
“The overall impact of such statements have the potential to split the Asian and international cricketing communities, and can impact Pakistan’s visit to India for the ICC Cricket World Cup 2023 and future ICC Events in India in the 2024-2031 cycle.”
The Pakistan board added they have requested an emergency meeting to discuss the matter at length.
“The PCB has to date not received any official communication from the ACC on the statement of the ACC President. As such, the PCB has written to the Asian Cricket Council to convene an emergency meeting of its Board as soon as practically possible on this important and sensitive matter.”
Earlier on Tuesday, BCCI secretary Jay Shah revealed that India won’t travel to Pakistan for the 2023 Asia Cup, adding the tournament can be played at a neutral venue like in the past.
“The Asia Cup 2023 will be held at a neutral venue,” Shah had told media. “I am saying this as ACC President. We [India] can’t go there [to Pakistan], they can’t come here. In the past also, Asia Cup has been played at a neutral venue.”
Recently, Pakistan have faced India on three different occasions. Once in the 2021 T20 World Cup, where Babar and Mohammad Rizwan thrashed India, while chasing, without losing any wicket.
India then beat Pakistan in both teams’ opener at the 2022 Asia Cup, while Pakistan went one-up again during the Super 4 round, eventually making their way to the final, where the Men in Green lost the title match to Sri Lanka.