Snubbed Pakistan are angry
Afridi omission mystery
INDIA and Pakistan are trading diplomatic barbs over cricket in the latest setback to efforts to improve relations between the two nuclear rivals, who have had strained ties since the 2008 Mumbai attacks.
An auction of players at the Indian Premier League (IPL), the world’s richest cricket tournament, ended with no bids for 11 Pakistanis from the eight IPL franchises this week amid fears Indian teams could have visa problems for the Pakistani cricketers.
Pakistan, always sensitive to any hint of a snub by its neighbour, was furious, after the Pakistan players which included all-rounder Shahid Afridi and Umar Gul, who both starred in Pakistan’s World T20 championship victory in England last year, were not bought.
Afridi’s agent has claimed that franchises had been advised not to bid for Pakistan players, while also criticising the Indian government’s stance on working visas.
And Pakistan Cricket Board chairman Ijaz Butt said: “We are highly disappointed because we were hoping they (Pakistan’s players) would play. The IPL had given us the mandate to get permission from our foreign office, to obtain other clearances and to finalise visas. We did all this, but it is a surprise that none of them have been taken at the auction.”
The Indian government dismissed Pakistan’s concer ns, saying visas had been issued to 17 Pakistani players.
Pakistan should not feel insulted by the fact its players were ignored in this week’s auction, as many players from other nations were also overlooked, a top Indian official has said.
“The differing needs of the franchises and availability of the players played a large role in whom the teams bid for,” said N Srinivasan, owner of the Chennai Super Kings and secretary of the Board of Control for Cricket in India.
“How can you say if you do not buy a player from a particular country it is an insult to that nation?” he said in the local newspaper, The Hindu.
Effigies of IPL commissioner Lalit Modi were burnt in various cities of Pakistan while the Speaker of the Lower House had stopped a Parliamentary delegation from travelling to India in protest.
The auction saw 66 international players available for just 11 slots, with West Indies’ Kieron Adrian Pollard joining the Mumbai Indians after attracting an undisclosed fee, exceeding his price of $750 000 (R5.6 million) per season and Proteas player Wayne Parnell being snapped up by the Delhi Daredevils for $610 000.
“There were 55 cricketers who must have been disappointed with the auction,” Srinivasan said.
“I do not think one should look at the nationality of the cricketers at all here. The franchises are paying good money for the team as well as the players. They have the right to pick the players they want. After all, it is their money.
“If you look at the auction, some very good cricketers such as Ramnaresh Sarwan, Brad Haddin and Graeme Swann did not find any takers. Their abil- ity is not in question here. It is just that the franchises entered the auction with specific needs.”
The BCCI official denied that the cricket board or Indian government blocked the nonselection of Pakistan players, whose national team is the reigning Twenty20 world champions.
“The BCCI has no role. And the choice of the individual team owners should not be mixed up with government policy,” he said.
“It is possible that some franchises could have displayed interest in the Pakistani players and then changed their minds according to their needs.”
Pakistani cricketers played in the inaugural edition of IPL in 2008, but were denied permission by Islamabad last year due to tensions between the rivals following the Mumbai attacks of late 2008 thought to have been launched from Pakistan. – Sapa-AP, Reuters and Belfast Telegraph