Monday, 30th October 2017

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For the 2021 T20 Cup, apex body wants visa assurance ‘in good time’

Mani’s letter to Manohar highlighted IOC’s India-specific decision

By Lokendra Pratap Sahi in Calcutta
  • Published 5.03.19, 5:41 AM
  • Updated 5.03.19, 5:41 AM
  • 2 mins read
  •  
Ehsan Mani Wikimedia Commons

The International Cricket Council (ICC) has advised the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) to obtain an undertaking from the Government, “in good time,” that the Pakistan team, support staff and officials would be granted visas for the T20 World Cup in 2021.

The only other time India hosted the T20 World Cup was in March-April 2016. While there was no problem with visas, the India vs Pakistan match had to be shifted from Dharamsala to this city.

That’s the last time the Pakistan cricket team was in India.

The BCCI already had one deadline to meet: December 31, this year, by when the ICC has to be told about the relevant tax exemption(s).

According to a well-placed source of The Telegraph, the ICC has sought the assurance “in good time” just in case there’s a reluctance on the part of the Government of India to issue visas.

“In that case, the ICC will have no choice but to relocate the T20 World Cup. Usually, such undertakings are given around a year before the event, but there can be exceptional circumstances...

“The state of the bilateral relationship between India and Pakistan, at this point in time for example, is very well known,” the source said on Monday evening.

One understands that Shashank Manohar, the ICC chairman, brought up the bit about “host-nation obligations” at the fag end of last Saturday’s Executive Board meeting in Dubai.

That was actually in response to a “strong letter” from Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chairman Ehsan Mani, where he’d picked holes in the BCCI’s ill-advised and poorly-phrased communication on concerns over safety and security in the upcoming World Cup and a call that the “cricketing community” sever ties with countries from where “terrorism emanates.”

As exclusively reported in these columns on Sunday, Manohar made it clear that the ICC wasn’t the appropriate body to take a call on severing links. Such decisions had to be initiated by individual countries.

The three Supreme Court-appointed Administrators, with former bureaucrat Vinod Rai in the chair, got it terribly wrong. Rahul Johri, the BCCI’s CEO, too.

None of the three office-bearers was consulted, so it’s hardly surprising that Amitabh Choudhary (acting secretary of the BCCI) returned home after the Executive Board meeting to cryptically say he had no role in what had been sent on behalf of the Administrators.

This Reporter learns that Mani, who is a former president of the ICC, drew Manohar’s attention to the following:

  • Each member was obliged to “respect and further the objects” of the ICC’s Memorandum of Association.
  • Manage its affairs “autonomously and ensure there is no government interference” in its governance, regulation and administration of cricket.
  • The “entitlement” of each member, subject to any qualification criteria, to participate in events organised or sanctioned by the ICC.

Obviously, the ICC couldn’t violate its own Constitution/Charter. It had to snub the BCCI, which isn’t as dominating as it used to be when, for example, Jagmohan Dalmiya and Narayanswami Srinivasan were at its helm.

Mani also highlighted the recent T20-speed tough stand of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), when the Government of India declined visas to two shooters and a coach from Pakistan.

Besides revoking the Olympic qualification status of the 25m rapid fire pistol event, the IOC declared it wouldn’t allow its India affiliate to host events in the future unless assurances were obtained from the Government.

Mani even mentioned the calling off of an Asian snooker meet in Bangalore, scheduled for this month, for exactly the same visa reason.

Interestingly, Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan (a World Cup-winning captain) is the PCB’s patron-in-chief.