PCB take on ICC May 14, 2009

India forced Asia split on 2011 World Cup - Mani

Ehsan Mani, former ICC president, believes Pakistan was manoeuvred out of its hosting rights for the 2011 World Cup by a split within the Asian bloc, led by India, and an inert ICC approach to examine viable solutions. Pakistan, said Mani, was thus left with no choice but to begin legal proceedings against the decision.

Mani, who served as president from 2003-06, is acting as an advisor to the PCB in the dispute and is widely thought to be man who prompted the move to initiate legal action. He has told the PCB, however, to keep "back-channel communications" with the ICC open throughout the dispute.

"I'm afraid so and I'm very sorry to say it," Mani told Cricinfo, when asked whether India had manipulated the situation to its advantage in order to squeeze Pakistan out of the tournament. "This was a time when India should have come forward, shown leadership and said 'It's all four of us as hosts, or none of us.'

"Asia got worried they would lose the 2011 World Cup altogether and decided to dump Pakistan. It is the first time in my 20 years association that I have seen Asia split this way. It speaks volumes of the PCB's PR perhaps," Mani said.

Mani also took aim at the ICC, saying it had not shown enough initiative in searching for a solution to Pakistan's plight. "The ICC should have looked at the security situation as a whole, they should have at least met with Pakistan beforehand. When I was president, there was a lot of pressure to suspend Zimbabwe. I refused, until I had met them personally. I did and eventually they asked to be suspended themselves.

"There was no pre-meeting dialogue with the PCB here and ICC should have taken the lead in that. Pakistan is a problem, so let's talk to them. I said to the ICC you should have thought of alternative solutions. They said the PCB had not put any such proposal forward but the ICC should have been examining these things.

"Many things were wrong. The ICC should have done an assessment of all four countries and gotten governments involved. Also, if Pakistan gets the Champions Trophy hosting fee even if that event was taken away, why does the same logic not apply for the World Cup?"

Acknowledging that the relationship between the ICC and the PCB are "not good," Mani said Pakistan was left with no other option. "They were between a rock and a hard place. They were marginalised, losing the hosting money - what was their choice? Roll over quietly, or make some noise? Pakistan feel they were misled at the meeting and had no idea this was going to happen. One should have been upfront about it."

Mani has advocated swapping the World Cups of 2011 and 2015, so that the next tournament is switched to Australia and New Zealand and the 2015 edition comes to the subcontinent. He asked the ICC about the swapping option and was told that "Australia and New Zealand were happy to host the 2011 World Cup but also wanted to keep the 2015 tournament."

But Mani urged the PCB to keep the doors of communication open with the ICC. "Ties between the two are not great. What I've advised them is to keep the legal process on but along with a high-level diplomatic process. Keep that channel open. I told the PCB that professional advice was needed but keep talking to them. I tried to speak to the ICC but couldn't get through to them. They kept saying 'you don't know all the facts' which I found disappointing."

Osman Samiuddin is Pakistan editor of Cricinfo