| Sunil Gavaskar |
Calcutta/New Delhi: While numerous fans may have welcomed the Board of Control for Cricket In India’s decision to revive India-Pakistan bilateral cricket ties, former India captain Sunil Gavaskar has criticised the move as he felt that the neighbours were not co-operating in the Mumbai terror attacks-probe.
“Being a Mumbaikar, I feel what is the urgency when there has been no co-operation from the other side,” Gavaskar said on NDTV.
He went on to add that not playing bilateral series would not affect the countries in any way. “India have not played Pakistan (in a bilateral series) for more than four years now… It hasn’t affected Indian cricket, it hasn’t affected Pakistan cricket as well... So I don’t see why we should have it,” Gavaskar said.
Clarifying his stand, he added: “I have said what I had to, but I respect the BCCI’s decision… I might not agree with it, but I respect it nonetheless. But that’s what life is all about, we sometimes agree, sometimes don’t… That’s what makes us a democracy.”
According to the iconic player, whenever the Indian team have played against the Misbah-ul Haqs in the recent past, it has been because of their commitment towards the International Cricket Council (ICC) or the Asian Cricket Council (ACC).
“If India has played Pakistan in the Asia Cup and the World Cup, it is because they had a commitment to the ACC and the ICC... This, on the other hand, is a bilateral series and so it is a different story,” he said.
Gavaskar, in fact, feels that, given India’s calendar this season, any addition to the list would only increase the pressure on the cricketers.
England are scheduled to arrive in India for a four-match Test series, followed by two Twenty20 Internationals before going home for Christmas. They would be back to play five one-day Internationals, scheduled to take place from January 11.
“Well, my first reaction was that the time the players have between the England series, they are not going to get a breather. Give the players a 15 days of off rather than play a meaningless series,” Gavaskar said.
“Players need the time to look after their injuries and get better,” he added.
Gavaskar also explained that there was no animosity between the people or the players of the two countries. “Between the people of both countries, there is no animosity… I am on good terms with all the Pakistan players and we never talk politics... But we also understand that our lives are ruled by politicians and not much can be done about it except, maybe, speak on an occasion like this. Between the two countries, there is a great deal of affection and great deal of understanding of the situation,” he said.
However, Gavaskar’s one-time teammate, Bishan Singh Bedi, also a former captain, welcomed the proposed series.
“It will be interesting… Pakistan will be playing their home series in India. It will mean a lot to the two nations. And the amount of interest and the goodwill it will generate will be huge... Lots of positives will come out of it and it is a step in the right direction,” Bedi said.
Bedi felt that the Indian cricketers could be a tired lot when they play Pakistan, as they are scheduled to play against England prior to that.
“India-Pakistan matches are much more intense than Australia playing England… My only apprehension is that for the Indian boys, it may be a bit taxing,” Bedi said.