Cricket politics: Two former international cricketers accuse Indian Cricket Board of trying to scuttle a tournament in 'Pakistan Occupied Kashmir'

Two former international cricketers have accused the Board of Control of Cricket in India (BCCI) of issuing warnings to other cricket boards for allowing their players to take part in a twenty20 tournament in a region governed by Pakistan but claimed by India as its territory

Jul 31, 2021
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The Kashmir Premier League (KPL)

Cricket politics: Two former international cricketers accuse Indian Cricket Board of trying to scuttle a tournament in 'Pakistan Occupied Kashmir'

Two former international cricketers have accused the Board of Control of Cricket in India (BCCI) of issuing warnings to other cricket boards for allowing their players to take part in a twenty20 tournament in a region governed by Pakistan but claimed by India as its territory. The Kashmir Premier League (KPL), scheduled to begin from August 6, is being staged cleverly by Pakistan in Muzaffarabad, the capital of what Pakistan calls Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK), which India refers to it as Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (POK).

Former Pakistan captain Rashid Latif and retired South African batsman Herschelle Gibbs took to Twitter to allege that the BCCI has issued warnings to top cricket boards for giving clearance to their players for the tournament.

Taking to Twitter on Saturday, Gibbs deplored the attitude of the Indian board. "Completely unnecessary of the @BCCI to bring their political agenda with Pakistan into the equation and trying to prevent me playing in the @kpl_20."

"Also threatening me saying they won’t allow me entry into India for any cricket-related work. Ludicrous,” he added.  Gibbs has withdrawn from the tourney.

Later, Gibbs told SportsKeeda that the person issuing the threat was BCCI Secretary Jay Shah. "It came from Mr. Shah. (The) the message was sent to Graeme smith who passed it on to me," he said.

A day before Gibb’s social media post, Latif’s tweet read, “The @BCCI is warning cricket boards that if their former players took part in Kashmir Premier League, they won’t be allowed entry in India or allowed to work in Indian cricket at any level or in any capacity. Gibbs, Dilshan, Monty Panesar & several others have been selected in KPL”

Following the ‘threat’ from the Indian cricket board, most foreign cricketers withdrew from the event. However, KPL President Arif Malik said that the tournament will go ahead as scheduled, adding that Pakistani cricketers will participate, Geo TV reported.

There has been no official word on the issue from the BCCI.

Sources said the Indian board threatened the foreign players through their agents, saying that if they went to Kashmir, the doors of Indian cricket, including the IPL, would be closed for them.

Another media report claimed BCCI officials contacted the English and South African cricket boards and threatened to ban their players from entering India if they participate in the KPL.

The English and South African boards stopped their players from taking part in the KPL until further orders.

The six foreign cricketers, who have excused themselves from the KPL, are Gibbs, Matt Prior, Phil Mustard, Owais Shah, Tenu Best and Monty Panaser.

Under the new situation, the Pakistan Cricket Board is likely to issue no-objection certificates to Shadab and Fakhar Zaman. The organizers will also include Muhammad Hafeez, Shoaib Malik and Shahid Afridi.

The KPL management has apologized to the remaining foreign players.

However, Sri Lanka's star cricketer Tillakaratne Dilshan, who is playing for the Muzaffarabad Tigers, announced he would turn out for the KPL despite Indian pressure.

The chairperson of Dilshan's franchise, Arshad Khan Tanoli, assured all possible facilities and security would be given to the star cricketer.

Other foreign players should also follow Dilshan, he added.

The KPL event will continue for 10 days, with six teams vying for the prestigious trophy in 18 matches till  August 17.

Pakistan Foreign Office spokesperson Zahid Hafeez Chaudhri reacted strongly to the development, saying that India's politicization of cricket couldn't be "condemned enough".

"Depriving young Kashmiri players of the opportunity to share [a] dressing room with big names in cricket is unfortunate and regrettable," he tweeted.

Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry, meanwhile, said that it was not the first time that India’s Narendra Modi's government had sacrificed cricket for its politics. "The pressure on Herschelle Gibbs not to participate in the Kashmir [Premier] League is a continuation of this old practice," he tweeted.

Taimoor Khan, director of cricket operations for KPL, was sent an email from an England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) licensed agent that alleged that a BCCI official called up the ECB and warned that, in addition to travel restrictions, the participating cricketers will not be “allowed to work in anything Indian cricket related”.

AJK/POK came into being after the 1949 ceasefire between India and Pakistan following the Kashmir war and comprises the parts of the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir that were occupied by the Pakistani forces and who have since not vacated it.

India holds that AJK is under Pakistan’s "illegal occupation".

(SAM)

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