The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) is contemplating leaving the Asian Cricket Council (ACC) in the wake of its president Jay Shah’s “unilateral decision” to shift next year’s Asia Cup to a neutral venue and has also called for an emergency meeting.
Sources told The Telegraph that there would be widespread ramifications if Shah stuck to his stand, and as a first step, PCB would quit the ACC.
Shah, who is also the secretary of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), said after its AGM on Tuesday that the team won’t travel to Pakistan, scheduled to host the tournament before next year’s ODI World Cup in India.
The PCB, in a strongly worded statement on Wednesday, said the decision was made “unilaterally” and raised the prospect of an “impact” on Pakistan’s participation in the 2023 World Cup as well as ICC events in India in the 2024-2031 cycle.
“The comments were made without any discussion or consultation with the board of the Asian Cricket Council or the Pakistan Cricket Board and without any thoughts towards their long-term consequences and implications,” the PCB said.
“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, Mr Shah’s statement of shifting of the ACC Asia Cup has clearly been made unilaterally. This is contrary to the philosophy and spirit for which the Asian Cricket Council was formed in September 1983 — a united Asian cricket body to safeguard the interests of the members and organise, develop and promote the game of cricket in Asia.
“The overall impact of such statements has 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 PCB has to date not received any official communication or clarification from the ACC on the statement of the ACC president. As such, the PCB has now requested the Asian Cricket Council to convene an emergency meeting of its board as soon as practically possible to discuss this important and sensitive matter.”
Former PCB and ACC chief Ehsan Mani felt Shah’s statement had political overtones.
“It seems like a political statement that has been done in a very unfortunate manner. All the boards should work together and none should enjoy an upper hand. Politics shouldn’t be involved in any manner and should never come in the way of cricket,” Mani said.
“He should have ideally spoken to the PCB and all the other boards before taking such a decision. He needs to understand how the ACC works. This is totally uncalled for.”
A source said Pakistan feels that the “very essence of the ACC had been killed by his autocratic attitude”. “The ACC was set up by the late Jagmohan Dalmiya with an aim to promote and develop the spirit of cricket among the nations in the region. The whole purpose has now been defeated,” the source said.
There is already talk that Shah, who is the son of Union home minister Amit Shah, could have been influenced by people in authority at the Centre. “The Asia Cup 2023 will be held at a neutral venue,” Jay Shah said after the Board’s AGM. “I am saying this as ACC president. We can’t go to Pakistan... Asia Cup has been played at a neutral venue and it is not unprecedented.”
Barring bilateral series, the neighbours have a mutual understanding of visiting each other’s country in multi-nation events. Shah’s comments have put a spanner in such an arrangement.
If Pakistan does not visit India during next year’s World Cup, it could face sanctions from the International Cricket Council (ICC), including a hefty fine. The ICC has been keeping a watch on the happenings and would react at an appropriate time if needed. The matter, however, is likely to come up for discussion during the ICC’s board meeting in Melbourne in November.
India’s last trip to Pakistan was during the 2008 AsiaCup, while Pakistan’s last visit to India was for the 2016 ICC event. The last time a bilateral series took place was in 2012- 13 when Pakistan toured India for a white-ball series.