A day after former South African cricketer Herschelle Gibbs accused the Board of Cricket Control in India (BCCI) of preventing his participation in the Kashmir Premier League (KPL), the Indian cricketing body has clarified its position on the controversy. Gibbs had alleged that BCCI had threatened him that he will not be permitted to enter India for any cricket-related work in the future if he participated in the cricket league in Pakistan occupied Kashmir.
While speaking about the matter to Indian Express, a BCCI official emphasised, “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…We have no problems with those playing the Pakistan Super League (PSL) but this is a league in PoK. We are toeing our government’s line.”
Following the controversy, the Pakistani Cricket Board (PCB) accused the Indian cricketing Board of bringing disrepute to the ‘gentleman’s game.’ While threatening to take the matter up with the International Cricket Council (ICC), it said, “The PCB considers that the BCCI has brought the game into disrepute by issuing warnings to multiple ICC Members to stop their retired cricketers from featuring in the Kashmir Premier League, further threatening they will not be allowed entry into India for cricket-related work.”
BCCI’s stance is an extension of Indian government’s policy
It added, “Such conduct from the BCCI is completely unacceptable, against the preamble of the Spirit of Cricket, and sets a dangerous precedent, which can neither be tolerated nor ignored.” While responding to the allegations by PCB, a BCCI official clarified that the Indian cricketing board is not concerned about the Pakistan Cricket Board’s statement. “We are not bothered about what statement PCB is putting out. We are mindful of Indian cricket and India.”
It must be mentioned that PoK is an integral part of India. Given that the Pakistani government had decided to host a cricketing League in India’s territory, the BCCI has informally communicated to all cricket Boards about the consequence of participating in KPL. It emphasised that its stance is an extension of the policy of the Indian government. The faceoff between the two cricketing Boards comes just before the International T20 World Cup, which is scheduled to commence from October 17 this year.
Pakistani cricketers, politicians cry foul over BCCI’s stand for India
In a tweet, Pakistan cricketer Shahid Afridi said, “Really disappointing that BCCI is once again mixing cricket and politics! KPL is a league for Kashmir, Pakistan, and cricket fans around the world. We will put up a wonderful show and won’t be deterred with such behaviour!! !!!
Pakistan’s Information and Broadcasting Minister Fawad Chaudhry tweeted in Urdu, “This is not the first time that Modi’s government has sacrificed cricket for its nefarious politics. The pressure on Herschelle Gibbs not to participate in the Kashmir League is a continuation of this old practice. We strongly condemn these measures. There will be no harm, only benefit.”
Earlier, Rashid Latif, a former Pakistani cricketer, had made similar allegations. He said on Friday that the BCCI had warned that if former cricketers participate in the cricket league in Pakistan, then they will not be permitted to work in India in any capacity. The Kashmir Premier League was conceived by Pakistani politician Shehryar Khan Afridi. It will have six teams, Overseas Warriors, Muzaffarabad Tigers, Rawalakot Hawks, Bagh Stallions, Mirpur Royals and Kotli Lions. The teams will have five players from Pakistan-occupied Kashmir each. The matches are to be played in Muzaffarabad Cricket Stadium from August 6 onwards. Wasim Akram is KPL’s Vice- President while Shahid Afridi has been appointed as the event’s brand ambassador.