ICC annual conference

FTP's pink boxes await Indo-Pak dates

Sharda Ugra in Hong Kong

June 30, 2011

Comments: 28 | Text size: A | A

Shahid Afridi congratulates Sachin Tendulkar and Virender Sehwag after the hard-fought game, India v Pakistan, 2nd semi-final, World Cup 2011, Mohali, March 30, 2011
More Indo-Pak cricket on the cards? © Getty Images
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The ICC's approved eight-year FTP slipped past unnoticed during its tumultuous annual conference in Hong Kong. So too, on its official Excel sheet of colour-coded columns, did a set of pink boxes. They first turn up in August 2013 and show up four more times on the FTP calendar till March 2020, side by side, in exactly the same period, under the two columns marked India and Pakistan. Whereas all other coded boxes are full of notations about the number of Tests and ODIs to be hosted, and whether the team they appear for will tour or host, the pink boxes have another singular feature. They are empty.

In that vacant space lie the stories of political events and cricketing relations. The empty boxes represent the dates, set aside by the hopeful, when India and Pakistan will play each other - if all goes well. At the moment, it's looking bleak. Not relations between the two nations, whose foreign secretaries have been talking, but certainly between the two cricket boards who have found themselves on the opposite side of most arguments at the meetings in Hong Kong.

In previous decades, while the countries fought bitterly on cricket fields and at the diplomatic table, the two boards were buddies. Most evidently, not any more. In Hong Kong, Pakistan was, like all other countries, supporting the DRS system and even more prominently resisting a high-speed push to amend the constitution over appointment of the ICC president for the fourth time in 15 years. The DRS was approved and the constitutional amendment was deferred for a few months.

More has happened in the backdrop of this conference: the Indian and Pakistani delegations met two nights ago to discuss the prospects of the only India v Pakistan bilateral series that has been clearly mentioned in the FTP.

It is learnt that not much progress has been made. The one bilateral series scheduled and outlined in the FTP - India hosting Pakistan for three Tests and five ODIs - could remain just a piece of paper without either the BCCI asking its foreign office whether they should begin making plans or the Indian government doing what it usually does with minimum notice: turning cricket into a "confidence-building measure".

The PCB, on its part, is doing what it can. In May, former PCB chief Shahryar Khan arrived in Delhi to meet with Indian cricket's most prominent political players. He met with Sharad Pawar, not in his role as ICC chief, but as a key member of the ruling coalition in India, Arun Jaitley, the president of Delhi state cricket and a senior leader of the opposition - the Bharatiya Janata Party - and Rajeev Shukla, MP and BCCI vice-president.

Whenever the question of the resumption of Indo-Pak cricket is brought up before the BCCI, the reply has always been the same - that they are awaiting a green signal from the government. The empty boxes will only help the vagueness. Had the blank spaces in the FTP's pink Indo-Pak boxes been filled in with even a mention of a bilateral series between the two countries, cricket officials on both sides would have had a good enough reason to check the political temperature with their governments.

This way, though, those wanting to play are left in limbo and those who would rather not, have a ready excuse.

Sharda Ugra is senior editor at ESPNcricinfo

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Posted by CandidIndian on (July 3, 2011, 5:29 GMT)

India Pakistan are arch rivals and we have seen so many great matches when these teams play against each other.Now its time to start cricket again between these two great cricketing nations.Sad to see fans of these countries having so much hatred against each other,so its important to bridge the gap through cricket.

Posted by reality_check on (July 2, 2011, 9:08 GMT)

@vj3478: On paper, India was supposed to trounce Pakistan in the WC semi final match by scoring 300+. That's what all the pundits were saying on Indian channels.

Posted by tradetekbiz on (July 2, 2011, 1:57 GMT)

@khiladisher: Is that the same lineup that managed a mediocre 260 at home against a bowling lineup that lacked Amir and Asif and their best bowler (umar gul) went for a lot of runs? Shivers indeed.

Posted by sehwaguparcut on (July 1, 2011, 22:59 GMT)

@Khantanveer I think you mean the 2005 series when Balaji was there. He seemed very popular in Pakistan. Yes, that series was played in a very good atmosphere.

Posted by vj3478 on (July 1, 2011, 20:28 GMT)

@reality_check: lol was WC semi final played on paper?

Posted by khantanveer on (July 1, 2011, 20:04 GMT)

C'mon boys.. be a sport.

Indians have genuine reservations but you know the last time they went to Pakistan people gave them so much love. This game of cricket should be carried on. Do not let some handful of crazies define the rest of us Pakistanis. Please!

For the rules, it should be simple. If someone refuses to play, even o a neutral venue due to security concerns, they should be penalized (points and money). Simple.

And all the talks of Pakistan is no match.. really? Let us play and see who wins.

Posted by getsetgopk on (July 1, 2011, 19:53 GMT)

no need to push india play against pakistan if indians dont wana play let them keep their dismal record against pakistan the way it is.

Posted by reality_check on (July 1, 2011, 15:57 GMT)

@khiladisher: IF THE SERIES HAPPEN... that's the question. BTW... same Indian batting lineup that you mentioned minus Dravid and Laxman was able to score only 260 in WC. If Pakistan held their catches then it could have been 180 or 190. This was done without Aamir or Asif in Pak bowling lineup. Matches are not won on paper, they are won on the pitch.

Posted by khiladisher on (July 1, 2011, 11:47 GMT)

I DO AGREE THAT THE PAKISTAN TEAM WOULD NOT BE A MATCH FOR THIS CURRENT INDIAN TEAM ,AS THE GULF OF STANDARD BETWEEN THE WORLD CHAMPIONS AND THE #1 TEST MATCH SIDE INDIA AND THE #6 SIDE PAKISTAN IS WAY TO MUCH. FOR INSTANCE TAKE THE BATTING LINE UP-INDIA-SEHWAG,GAMBHIR,DRAVID,SACHIN,LAXMAN,DHONI,RAINA,YUVRAJ-THIS LINE UP WOULD SEND SHIVERS DOWN THE SPINE OF ANY BOWLING ATTACK-ABOUT 140 TEST MATCH CENTURIES PAKISTAN HAS A VERY POOR BATTING LINE UP-SO IF A SERIES HAPPENS IT WILL BE 3-0 IN INDIAS FAVOUR.

Posted by   on (July 1, 2011, 10:25 GMT)

India has chance to beat Pakistan now otherwise they always scare to play against Pakistan. That's why India should Play with Pakistan.

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