Snubbed Pak­istan are an­gry

Afridi omis­sion mys­tery

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - SPORT -

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

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