Amid simmering tension on the Indo-Pak border, the Pakistan women cricket team’s participation in the upcoming World Cup continued to remain uncertain with security concerns and possible political protests prompting the BCCI to suggest alternative venues. The BCCI has already apprised the International Cricket Council of the situation prevailing in India following the killing of two Indian soldiers by the Pakistani Army and the game’s governing body is expected to take a final decision soon.
With Mumbai Cricket Association making it clear that it would be difficult to host the matches involving Pakistani team in the city, the ICC may have to announce a new venue for the matches.
A day after all the nine Pakistani hockey players, taking part in the Hockey India League, were asked to return home, the fate of Pakistan’s women cricket team continued to remain under a cloud with Mumbai and Ahmedabad refusing to host the matches.
Fearing that the matches could be disrupted, Pakistan Cricket Board chairman Zaka Ashraf had suggested to the ICC that the entire World Cup tournament should be shifted to South Africa.
“Women’s World Cup is an ICC event and if the security is not good enough in India then the world governing body should consider shifting it to a neutral venue like South Africa or somewhere,” he said. “I would want to leave it ICC to decide. The entire tournament has to go to a neutral venue and a few matches cannot be shifted to another country and rest play somewhere. If it happens in India then there should be proper security arrangement, otherwise it could be shifted to another venue,” Ashraf said. The MCA and local police authorities here suggested to the ICC that it would be better if matches involving Pakistan in the Women’s Cricket World Cup are shifted out of the city.
According to MCA sources, this was done at a meeting held in the association’s premises on Wednesday involving an ICC representative, tournament director Suru Nayak, who is employed with the BCCI, a few top police officials and some MCA office bearers. “It was told (to ICC representative) that adequate security could be provided to the women cricketers. But the public feeling on the issue was also conveyed and it was mentioned in the current scenario that it would be difficult to stop political parties (from protesting against Pakistan women’s team) if the matches are held here,” an MCA official said. “Nayak said that the ICC would be apprised of what took part in the meeting and they would take a call on the matter within 24 hours,” he added.
Another MCA official said that there is specific threat of disruption of the matches from the Shiv Sena. On Tuesday, the matter was discussed at the Board’s all-powerful Working Committee meeting here and it was decided to convey to the ICC the situation prevailing in the country. BCCI president N Srinivasan said the issue was now for the ICC to decide. “We have informed the ICC about it. They will have to examine and take a view,” he said after the meeting. The Gujarat Cricket Association also refused to host the matches after it was approached by the BCCI.
“The BCCI had approached us asking whether Ahmedabad would be in a position to host the ICC Women’s World Cup 2013. But we have refused to host the matches here following rising tension at the border,” GCA secretary Rajesh Patel said.
“Whether to go ahead with the matches at the same venue or shift it to an alternate place will now be decided by the International Cricket Council and the Board of Control for Cricket in India,” he added.
The BCCI had approached GCA with a “verbal” proposal whether it could host the Women’s World Cup in Ahmedabad. The eight-team Women’s World Cup is scheduled to be held in Mumbai between January 31 and February 17 but there are concerns that there might be protests, leading to trouble.
The Wankhede Stadium, Cricket Club of India’s Brabourne Stadium, the Mumbai Cricket Association’s (MCA) Bandra-Kurla Complex ground and the MIG Club in Bandra are the venues for the Women’s World Cup matches. As per the schedule, Pakistan team is set to arrive in Mumbai on January 26 and will play their league games at the MCA ground.
Women’s Cricket World Cup may be postponed
As fallout of escalating tensions between India and Pakistan, the International Cricket Council (ICC) may postpone the women’s cricket World Cup, scheduled to be held in India from January 31, sources were quoted by n Indian news channel. After the killings and mutilation of two Indian jawans near the LoC on January 8 and repeated ceasefire violations, sources had said yesterday that the Pakistan women’s team may not be called to India for the World Cup due to security reasons. Nine Pakistani players, who were taking part in the ongoing Hockey India League, were sent back yesterday. The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) has requested the ICC to take the tournament out of India so that the Pakistani women’s team can participate. Postponing the event will give the ICC more time to shift the tournament out of India. Also, the women’s World Cup is not part of the future tours programme and hence, postponing it may not require too much deliberation on the part of the ICC. If the tournament is shifted out of India, it will not be the first time the ICC would have had to change the host country of one of its major events. The 2009 Champions Trophy was shifted out of Pakistan due to security concerns and was held in South Africa instead.