Neutral venues a trap for Pakistan - Bindra
IS Bindra, the ICC's principal adviser, has said the idea of playing cricket in neutral venues on security grounds is a dangerous trap. Bindra said he has already warned Pakistan - which may be forced into such a scenario by the internal security situation - against any such move as it would affect the long-term future of its cricket.
"I am totally against Pakistan agreeing to play in the neutral venues because then you are ruling out for quite some time an option of playing within the country," Bindra told Cricinfo. "That's what I advised Ijaz Butt (the PCB chairman) in the last meeting of the ICC board in Perth (on January 31). I said, 'Don't agree to play Tests in neutral venues like England because then there will be reluctance on part of the players to come and play in Pakistan'. This is a very dangerous precedent and we shouldn't fall into the trap of playing in neutral venues on the grounds of security."
Bindra's warning follows reports that Pakistan and Australia are considering a proposal to hold their 2010 Test series in England after the Lahore attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team. Gerry Sutcliffe, the British sports minister, has said he would back any move by the PCB to stage home matches in England. Pakistan and Australia are scheduled to play a one-day series and a Twenty20 game in Dubai and Abu Dhabi from April 22-May 7.
The Lahore attack would impact cricket in Pakistan in the immediate future, Bindra said, but hoped that the country could still co-host the 2011 World Cup. "We shouldn't rule out cricket in Pakistan in the long-term future yet," he said. "I hope normalcy will come back quickly and we will have cricket there quickly, before the 2011 World Cup and we are looking forward to that."
Bindra, who is also a member of the IPL governing council, said cricket in India would not be impacted by the Lahore attack. "So far as India is concerned, I don't see any impact whatsoever," he said. "We could have the Tests in Mohali and Chennai 10 days after [the terror attacks] Mumbai and I don't see why Lahore should be any obstacle to organising cricket in India."
The IPL is currently in discussions with India's security officials to resolve a clash in dates with the general elections amid growing security-related worries among the league's foreign players. But Bindra said he was confident that the IPL would go ahead as scheduled from April 10 to May 24. He felt foreign players would not stay away from the IPL given the rewards. "The IPL is in the interests of the players more than anyone else," he said. "The foreign players are benefiting more than the Indian players... So I don't think it impacts the decision of any of the players and I don't see any reason why we should have this fear (of players skipping the IPL) in our mind."
Ajay Shankar is deputy editor of Cricinfo