World Cup 2011 August 30, 2009

Sohail criticises PCB-ICC agreement

Cricinfo staff

Former Pakistan opener Aamer Sohail has criticised the PCB for its out-of-court settlement with the ICC over the staging of the 2011 World Cup.

The Pakistan board had sent a legal notice to the ICC after it was stripped of its rights to host the tournament in the aftermath of the attack on Sri Lankan players in Lahore in March. A case had also been filed against the move of the World Cup Secretariat from Lahore to Mumbai.

But as a result of the agreement between the two parties in Dubai, where it was decided that the PCB would retain its hosting fee of US$10.5 million and receive payment as compensation for the loss of hosting rights, the board decided to withdraw its legal cases against the ICC. Sohail, though, said that the amount the PCB would receive - an estimated US$18 million as total returns - was meager in comparison to what they would have earned had they pursued the matter in court.

'The match hosting fees, profit shares and participating fees are big incentives, which the ICC must give to the PCB in all circumstances," Sohail told Dawn. "After all, what else did the PCB go into the legal fight for in the first place?

"But I think the cases were filed just to get a share in the gate money and parking, which is peanuts actually. We could have even got that through a one-on-one negotiation with the ICC," he said. "The PCB's share of the gate money and parking from 14 matches can roughly be around Rs80 to 90 million, which the ICC could offer through dialogue."

Sohail had been appointed the director of Pakistan's National Cricket Academy by the PCB in November last year, but quit the post in July citing personal reasons and complete absence of any job satisfaction. Sohail said that the PCB had spent a significant amount filing the cases in the first place and ended up achieving none of their initial objectives: winning back the rights to host the competition and having the secretariat moved back to the country.

"If the legal fight was for the little gate money or parking amount then it was not a wise decision as it could be resolved amicably through negotiation anyway," he said.

Sohail was also critical of the PCB's proposal to hold its share of matches at neutral venues, notably the UAE. The ICC had ruled out the possibility of staging Pakistan's games at neutral venues during a meeting in June. "How can the PCB propose Abu Dhabi and Dubai as alternate venues without even signing MoUs with the two Arabian states' cricketing authorities?," Sohail said. "By proposing Abu Dhabi and Dubai as the alternate venues, the chairman [Ijaz Butt], in fact, showed no confidence in the government, which appointed him the head of its cricket board, for being able to improve the security situation by 2011."

Sohail was of the view that the best option available for the PCB was to ask for time to make adequate security arrangements for the tournament and said that the security situation in Pakistan was improving. "Pakistan have to host its share of 14 matches in Karachi, Lahore and Rawalpindi. The security situation in all these cities is improving day by day and things would hopefully be in a far better state by 2011," he said. "The chairman could at least have proposed that while the ICC continued work on the alternative venues of Pakistan's matches in India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, the PCB will also do the same in Karachi, Lahore and Rawalpindi.

"Five months before the start of the mega event, a final security situation can help both the ICC and the PCB reach a perfect decision that is acceptable to both parties."