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Those part of PoK league can’t play or work in India: BCCI

Following a statement from the PCB, there’s a chance that this could snowball into a conflict between the two cricket boards in a T20 World Cup year, with India and Pakistan set to face each other at the ICC event.

Written by Shamik Chakrabarty | Kolkata |
Updated: August 1, 2021 2:16:41 pm
BCCI kashmir pok league, Herschelle Gibbs kashmir pok league, Herschelle Gibbs BCCI controversy, BCCI PCB controversyHerschelle Gibbs, one of the accused in the 2000 match-fixing scandal, has signed up to play for KPL franchise Overseas Warriors. (AP File Photo)

The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has drawn the line for those expected to be associated with the upcoming league in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK). The Indian board has informally told cricket boards around the world that those participating in the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB)-promoted Kashmir Premier League (KPL), that commences on August 6, would be barred from playing in leagues in India or having any commercial connection with the BCCI.

“While asking the boards not to allow their players to take part in the Kashmir league, we have informed them that in case they do, they can’t be part of any cricketing activity in India. We have done this keeping national interest in mind,” a top BCCI official told The Sunday Express.

According to the official, this is just an extension of the Indian government’s policy. “We have no problems with those playing the Pakistan Super League (PSL) but this is a league in PoK. We are toeing our government’s line.”

This follows former South Africa batsman Herschelle Gibbs accusing the BCCI of “trying to prevent” him from participating in the inaugural KPL in PoK and subsequent comments by PCB officials and those associated with the Pakistan government. Gibbs had said the Indian board was bringing “their political agenda into the equation”.

The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) has expressed its “displeasure” on the issue.

In a tweet on Saturday, Gibbs wrote: “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.”

Gibbs, one of the accused in the 2000 match-fixing scandal, has signed up to play for KPL franchise Overseas Warriors.

Following a statement from the PCB, there’s a chance that this could snowball into a conflict between the two cricket boards in a T20 World Cup year, with India and Pakistan set to face each other at the ICC event.

“The PCB considers that the BCCI has brought the game into disrepute by issuing warnings to multiple ICC Members to stop their retired cricketers from featuring in the Kashmir Premier League, further threatening they will not be allowed entry into India for cricket-related work,” the PCB said in its statement.

“Such conduct from the BCCI is completely unacceptable, against the preamble of the Spirit of Cricket and sets a dangerous precedent, which can neither be tolerated nor ignored,” it said.

The PCB has also spoken about raising the matter “at the appropriate ICC forum”.

Tough talking

The BCCI dismissed the PCB statement, with an Indian cricket board official telling this paper: “We are not bothered about what statement PCB is putting out. We are mindful of Indian cricket and India.”

Pakistani politicians, however, have waded into the issue. In a tweet tagging Gibbs, Pakistan’s Federal Minister for Information & Broadcasting Fawad Chaudhry alleged that “the pressure on Herschelle Gibbs not to participate in the Kashmir League” was a “continuation” of an old Indian practice. Pakistan Foreign Office spokesperson Zahid Hafeez Chaudhri, too, reacted to Gibbs’ post. “Depriving young Kashmiri players of the opportunity to share (a) dressing room with big names in cricket is unfortunate and regrettable,” he tweeted.

The first KPL edition is scheduled to be held with six teams from August 6 to 16. Five of those teams will represent cities in PoK, while the sixth franchise, Overseas Warriors, is reserved for overseas Kashmiris.

The tournament’s launch saw a mix of politicians and former Pakistan cricketers. Wasim Akram is KPL’s founding vice-president, while Shahid Afridi is the league’s brand ambassador.

Inzamam-ul-Haq, Shoaib Malik, Saeed Ajmal, Umar Gul and Abdul Razzaq were present at the launch as well.

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