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PCB chief confirms Telegraph’s reports

Zaka Ashraf

Calcutta: The International Cricket Council (ICC) and the Boards in question have been quiet, but the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chairman, Zaka Ashraf, has confirmed at least three reports, written from here, which appeared in The Telegraph this week.

Filed between Tuesday and Thursday, the reports dealt with India, Australia and England garnering the required support of four other Test-playing nations, including Bangladesh, to push for massive changes; heated exchanges during Monday’s finance and commercial affairs committee meeting of the world body; India offering to play Pakistan on neutral territory.

The reports had also talked about ‘threats’ held out by the Big Three during the ICC meetings in Dubai, where the world body is headquartered.

Ironically, two of the Big Three — India and England — are currently having a terrible time on the field of play. Only Australia’s on a roll, having bounced back remarkably after last summer’s thrashing in England.

But it’s a very different ball game in the boardrooms and both India and England have the skill to make their presence felt there. Australia, well, is scoring behind closed doors too.

Ashraf, who is under pressure to retain his position, confirmed the reports during the course of an interview with PakPassion.net.

Excerpts...

“Cricket South Africa, Sri Lanka Cricket and ourselves have taken our stance and stuck to itů We were heavily pressurised, but unlike the Bangladesh Cricket Board, we never gave in... I’m not quite sure what happened with Bangladesh, but a lot of pressure was put on them and, it seems, they caved in and secretly signed the agreement..."

“Yes, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) did offer to play Pakistan in a bilateral series at a neutral venue, which is a positive gesture. However, I wanted assurances... We want to be sure that this proposed series will actually take place... There is no way we will fall for the lure of promises, unless we have it in writing... We’ve not received any written assurance... The BCCI is saying we first need to sign up (and oblige the Big Three)...”

“The chairman of Cricket Australia (Wally Edwards, also head of the finance and commercial affairs committee) made some disappointing remarks towards Pakistan... The remarks were derogatory... There was some positive intervention by the England and Wales Cricket Board chairman, Giles Clarke, which led to an apology from Edwards and him settling down...”

Meanwhile, according to an agency report, Ashraf has called an “emergent meeting” of the PCB’s governing board on Monday.

Pakistan’s stand on the proposals, which will recast the ICC completely, has to be finalised by February 8. That’s when the world body’s executive board meets again, this time in Singapore.

Once formally approved, the proposals will come into effect from June, with the ICC then being controlled by the Big Three.