The BCCI has kept on hold its decision on playing Pakistan in the World Cup this June but, taking a broader stand, has requested the ICC to ask its members to "sever ties with countries from which terrorism emanates", and also raised the issue of security at the tournament, to be hosted by the ECB. The decision was taken at a meeting of the Indian cricket board on Friday, chaired by the three-member Committee of Administrators (CoA) and attended by chief executive officer Rahul Johri.
A letter to this effect was sent by Johri to the ICC heads, including its chairman Shashank Manohar and chief executive Dave Richardson, along with World Cup tournament director Steve Elworthy and ECB chairman Colin Graves. Although the letter was signed by Johri, he mentioned that it was being sent at the behest of the CoA, the supervisory authority of the BCCI till it conducts fresh elections.
Asked after the meeting whether India would play Pakistan in their World Cup group match, scheduled for June 16 in Manchester, Rai said a decision could not be taken right away. "June 16 is very far away. We will take a call on that much later and in consultation with government," he said.
This development came after the BCCI had mulled the option of calling for a complete ban on Pakistan from the upcoming World Cup, via a draft letter prepared on Wednesday.
The moves are in response to the recent terror attack in Pulwama in the northern Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir in which more than 40 paramilitary troops were killed. A Pakistan-based terrorist organisation has claimed responsibility for the attack, and the Indian government's stand is that Pakistan supports terrorism in India. Imran Khan, Pakistan's prime minister and Patron of the Pakistan Cricket Board, has denied that allegation and asked India to share actionable evidence.
June 16 is very far away. We will take a call on that much later and in consultation with governmentVINOD RAI
In his letter, Johri said the urgent communication to the ICC and the World Cup organisers was necessitated by the "dastardly" terrorist attack in Pulwama, which had left the BCCI concerned about the safety of the Indian players and match officials as well as fans. "This communication is being addressed to voice the BCCI's concerns and sentiments that have emerged after the recent dastardly terrorist attack…" Johri said in the letter.
It said that "most countries from which the members of the ICC hail (including United Kingdom) have strongly condemned this terrorist attack and expressed solidarity with India. BCCI urges the cricketing community to sever ties with countries from which terrorism emanates."
On the issue of security at the World Cup, the letter said it "trusts that the ICC and ECB will ensure that the most robust security is provided to players, match officials and fans of Indian cricket."
The ICC has not yet reacted to the BCCI letter but on Tuesday, while marking the 100-day countdown to the World Cup in London, both Richardson and Elworthy had said that the safety of everyone concerned - participants as well fans - would always be a priority.
The BCCI letter comes after widespread outrage in India over the Pulwama attack. Many prominent Indian cricketers even have urged the BCCI to boycott playing Pakistan in the World Cup. Although the letter makes no mention on whether India will contest against Pakistan at all in the World Cup, Johri said the BCCI "reserves all its rights and entitlements".
Nagraj Gollapudi is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo