BCCI not keen on playing Pakistan in ICC's Future Tours Programme
What's the story?
BCCI acting secretary Amitabh Chaudhary said that the contentious issue of India playing Pakistan as part of ICC's Future Tours Programme (FTP) would be discussed during their upcoming Special General Meeting (SGM) in New Delhi on December 1.
While Chaudhary did acknowledge the popularity of Indo-Pak cricket which brings in huge revenues to the ICC, Chaudhary sounded skeptical about whether a bilateral series between the two sides is viable in the present political context.
"In any world competition or championship, if say 20 teams play, it is not possible to play each team against each other. The problem in not having a series between India and Pakistan is something which affects international cricket to a large extent.
"So nothing can really be planned out factoring the consequences of that situation. That's being looked after. As I said, it is not necessary to play each and every team in a championship," Chaudhury said.
With the ICC last month giving the go-ahead for the proposed 9-team Test league and 13-team ODI league with the aim of bringing context to bilateral cricket, questions have been rife about how the Asian arch-rivals would go about sorting their issues which go way beyond cricket.
The prevailing political tension between the two sides has restricted cricket ties between the two sides to ICC tournaments, with the latest match being the 2017 Champions Trophy final in England, which saw Pakistan crowned champions after a comfortable win.
India and Pakistan last played a bilateral series in 2013 when the latter won 2-1 in a 3-match ODI series hosted by India.
The last Test match between the two sides came during the 2007/08 season and while the BCCI and the PCB did sign a Memorandum-of-Understanding (MoU) in 2014 to restore bilateral ties, the BCCI backed out of the agreement following the Pathankot terror attacks in 2015.
The PCB has been seeking compensation from the BCCI for not honouring the MoU and it is a matter which has kept dragging on with little possibility of a solution being found.
The ICC's proposed Test and ODI league, set to be introduced in 2019 and 2020 respectively, has once again got the cricket enthusiasts excited about the prospect of India and Pakistan playing against each other on a regular basis.
Chaudhary's words clearly prove though that the BCCI is still unsure about the idea and might be looking at ways to avoid playing Pakistan.
The Test series league will see nine teams play six series over two years with the top two sides fighting it out for the World Test League Championship while the ODI league will serve as a qualification league for the 2023 World Cup.
The question of India and Pakistan playing each other has always been a precarious one considering the political situation prevailing between the Asian neighbours and is not something the BCCI can decide on its own.
The go-ahead from the governments is a key factor but it will be interesting to see whether they come into the picture depending on the call the BCCI will take at its upcoming SGM.