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ICC cannot compel a board to play bi-lateral series: Zaheer Abbas

Karachi: Amid indications that the PCB may raise with the ICC the issue of India not agreeing on a series with Pakistan, ICC President Zaheer Abbas yesterday made it clear that the world body cannot intervene to revive Indo-Pak cricketing ties as it was bilateral matter.

"Since the matter is a bilateral one between two boards the ICC can only talk to them but not compel them to play against each other bilaterally," Zaheer told the media in Lahore. Last week, BCCI Secretary Anurag Thakur had said that there will be no revival of cricketing relations between the two countries unless outstanding political and diplomatic issues are resolved.

Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) Chairman Shaharyar Khan had also admitted that chances of the bilateral series between Pakistan and India in December taking place are now very slim. A well-informed official told PTI that Shaharyar was very disappointed after the cancellation of the talks between the national security advisors of the two countries.

"He was also disappointed with the statement that followed from the Indian cricket board secretary Anurag Thakur regarding playing cricket with Pakistan," the official said. The source said that Shaharyar had dropped his plans to visit India for talks with BCCI and government officials to convince them to have the series in December in the United Arab Emirates.

"He is not going to India but the PCB will this week write to the BCCI a strong letter asking them to honour the MoU signed between the two boards and give a clear answer on the series," the source added. The source said that if India didn't honour the MoU the PCB would try to raise the issue at the ICC executive board level since the December series was their home series.

"Whenever it is our home series we get this feeling India has avoided playing us since 2007 and we have incurred big losses. We even went to India in 2012/13 without taking any big money as a goodwill gesture. But now it is not just about cricket but also finances," he said. Shaharyar told the "Jang" newspaper that the situation looked very bad after the cancellation of the talks but he would still keep trying as there was some time left before the planned series.

We will keep on trying because the series is important for us in many ways including financially and we did sign a proper MoU with the Indian board for six series," he noted. Former Test captain Zaheer, who was Pakistan's nominee for the honorary President's post, said that he would love to see the two nations play against each other but ICC can do little about it.

"But frankly speaking the ICC can't do anything in this regard. The two boards have to resolve the issues themselves. "Definitely I think it is a huge loss to cricket if Pakistan and India don't play against each other because I think an Indo-Pak series is a real spectacle in the sport. The situation is most unfortunate," Zaheer said.

The former Test skipper who featured in several encounters against India said that one should not give up hope on a bilateral series. He made it clear that in present circumstances it was difficult for teams to tour Pakistan and it would take time before other teams gained confidence to come to the country. Zaheer also informed the ICC was playing its role and advising Pakistan on revival of international cricket in the country.

Asked about the Salman Butt and Muhammad Asif spot fixing ban issue, Zaheer said the ICC had told the PCB that it was their jurisdiction and prerogative now to deal with the case. "The ICC has confirmed their bans expire on 1st September and now the matter is with the PCB how they deal with it," he added. The PCB had sought clarification from the ICC regarding the return of Butt and Asif to domestic and international cricket.

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