The Board of Control for Cricket in India’s (BCCI) failure to explain its stand of not playing against Pakistan has resulted in its team forfeiting three matches of the ICC Women’s Championship and as a result, they will now have to go through a qualifier in Sri Lanka to make it to the World Cup in England next summer. Due to the tense ties between the two neighbours, the BCCI has suspended bilateral cricketing relations with Pakistan, but according to the International Cricket Council (ICC), it failed to respond to the queries in this regard, leaving the world body with no option.
The ICC awarded zero to the Indian women’s team, while giving full points to their Pakistan counterparts for the three-match series that was part of the ICC Women’s Championship. The matches were not formally scheduled but were supposed to be played between August and October this year. The ICC technical committee observed that the BCCI couldn’t offer ‘acceptable reasons’ for the forfeiture.
The ICC Women’s Championship is the lead-up to the ICC Women’s World Cup in England from June 26 to July 23. The top eight teams play against each other in a series of three matches each and the top four directly qualify for the World Cup. The rest go to the 10-team Women’s World Cup Qualifier, to be played in Sri Lanka from February 7 to 21. The Championship is played over a period of two years. India and Pakistan were supposed to meet in Round 6 of the tournament.
According to an ICC insider, the technical committee didn’t have an option but to award full points to Pakistan. He claimed that Pakistan were scheduled to host the series in the UAE and had informed the world body accordingly. The ICC, in turn, contacted the BCCI for a response, which never came.
“The ICC made several queries, but the Indian board didn’t respond. The technical committee had to take a decision, for the tournament was coming to an end. The committee was probably of the view that India recently played against Pakistan in the Asian Champions Trophy hockey tournament and there can’t be a specific direction solely for cricket. Also, India are scheduled to face Pakistan in the women’s Asia Cup cricket tournament in Bangkok,” said the ICC functionary. He also pointed out that deducting points for forfeiture is the ICC norm that had been applied during the 1996 men’s World Cup, when Australia and West Indies refused to send their teams to Sri Lanka citing security concerns. Sri Lanka were declared winners in both matches.
Likewise, England had forfeited their fixture against Zimbabwe during the 2003 World Cup due to the political unrest in the country, while New Zealand refused to visit Kenya, citing security concerns. England and New Zealand had to concede defeat in those games and Kenya played the semi-final against India. Coming back to the ICC Women’s Championship, the global body’s media release said: “The matches, which were due to be played between 1 August and 31 October 2016, were not formally scheduled and did not ultimately take place, and the Technical Committee has ruled that Pakistan will be awarded two points for each of the three games and, in accordance with the ICC Women’s Championship playing conditions, India shall be considered to have scored 0 runs in each of the 50 overs in each of the three matches and that its net run rate shall be adjusted accordingly.”
“The Technical Committee was sensitive to the current state of relations between the nations of India and Pakistan, but concluded that the BCCI had not been able to establish ‘acceptable reasons’ for not participating in this series.”
A top BCCI official, however, cried foul and complained about ICC’s ‘step-motherly’ attitude towards the Indian board. “The ICC seems hell-bent on depriving the BCCI on everything – bringing down the (BCCI’s) revenue share from 22 per cent to 15, to points deduction – after the Lodha Committee recommendations. A country that contributes 70 per cent of the global (cricket) funding, finds no place in the ICC working group,” he told this paper.