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India, Pak should play cricket, govts shouldn’t intervene: Ehsan Mani

India, Pak should play cricket, govts shouldn’t intervene: Ehsan Mani

MUMBAI: Former ICC chairman Ehsan Mani has heard that the Asia Cup has been moved out of India to UAE, allegedly due to political tensions with Pakistan.

He said, “There are two important issues here – firstly, under the current ICC Constitution there must be no government interference in cricket administration. This includes, discouraging or stopping teams from playing against any country. Secondly, the relationship between BCCI and PCB is historically at its lowest point.”

“When I became the Chairman and President of the ICC, India and Pakistan had not played against each other for several years. Board representatives such as General Tauqir Zia and Shaharyar Khan from Pakistan and their counterparts from BCCI such as Jagmohan Dalmiya, I S Bindra, Raj Singh Dungarpur and Sharad Pawar had excellent personal relations. At that time, the people who led BCCI and PCB were determined their cricket would not be affected by politics between the two countries”.

“Soon after I became head of ICC, I visited India and met several government ministers in the company of Dalmiya, Raj Singh and other senior BCCI officials. Similarly, I met with then Pakistan president, General Musharraf. The message that was given to the governments was that as cricket administrators, it was our responsibility to protect the game and we did not want politics to harm the cricket between the two countries.

“We persevered in our efforts and eventually India toured Pakistan in 2004. The tour was an outstanding success. Several thousand Indian supporters visited Pakistan and were treated with love and affection; they went back to India overwhelmed by the hospitality they had received in Pakistan. Pakistan’s tour to India in 2005 was similarly a great success.

Cricket demonstrated it had the power to cut across politics which divide countries by the people-to-people contact it created,” Mani said, adding: “Look at what happened in the final of the last Champion’s Trophy in England. Thousands of India and Pakistan supporters sat together in a wonderfully friendly atmosphere at the Oval, supporting their respective teams and sharing a common love for the game.”

Mani said: “It is also important that those who run the Indian and Pakistan cricket boards should understand that they have an obligation to hundreds of millions of cricket fans around the world. An India-Pakistan match is bigger than any other sporting event.

These officials must work together to promote and protect the game of cricket,” he said.

– Deccan Chronicle

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