Politics December 23, 2008

Lorgat's faux pas is a demonstration of weakness

The world of international cricket is already too small to bear the loss of emerging nations like Zimbabwe and Bangladesh, and established ones like Pakistan

India's unfortunate decision to cancel their tour of Pakistan is a serious blow to cricket in South Asia. The decision is a political one, and one I believe to be incorrect. Perpetrators of atrocities will be encouraged by the political divisions they create. Disharmony and conflict sustain them.

Cricketers and cricket fans have often shown that the regional instinct for friendship is greater than the desire to destroy each other. The only glimmer of hope is that the Indian government sees the wisdom in friendship but has judged the mood of its people will not tolerate a sporting encounter with Pakistan just yet.

As appalling as India's decision is to Pakistan fans, Sri Lanka's quick acceptance is a boost. The state of Pakistan cricket is such that it must seek willing opposition at home, abroad, and on neutral venues. International cricket must become the rule again and not the exception.

All of which makes Haroon Lorgat's reference to a security inspection on behalf of ICC officials even more surprising. ICC's role, with reference to Pakistan, has to be to allow willing nations to tour. The world of international cricket is already too small to bear the loss of emerging nations like Zimbabwe and Bangladesh, and established ones like Pakistan.

The security survey for officials would also have been an unprecedented move by ICC, adding strength to the argument that the international cricket community is displaying double standards in its treatment of Pakistan. Little wonder, then, that the ICC media machine rapidly issued clarifications of Lorgat's comment, which reads perfectly clearly in its original form.

Pakistan cricket is in a mess but so is ICC, because a shrinking cricket world means that it is hostage to the whims of one or two powerful members. The myopic view is to bend to that power, which is a dangerous mistake. But the ICC has yet to demonstrate that it has a viable long-term strategy to allow international cricket to flourish or the courage to stand up to its most dominant members.

ICC's main hope as an organisation is to grow its membership. Instead, it is an organisation stricken by its failure to ensure that its least powerful or least desirable constituents are not marginalised.

Kamran Abbasi is an editor, writer and broadcaster. He tweets here

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