ICL: Indian Cricket League

As Indians shine, Pakistan are staring down the barrel


On the one hand big brother India is currently forging ahead on the back of victories over Australia, both in a Test at the pace fortress in Perth and then a first ever triumph in the one-day tri-series. In achieving the latter success India relied heavily on youth and in the process unearthed some very talented players who proved they have the temperament as well as the skill for international competition. The playing future looks rosy for India despite the approaching retirement of a number of star batsmen.

As if all that success wasn’t heady enough, off the field the IPL auction was launched in a blaze of publicity and a flood of money. India is rolling in it: riches on and off the field. Just across the border the poor relation, Pakistan, is dealing with political unrest, and cricket is but one of the many things to suffer. A potential financial windfall from a tour by Australia has been dashed by the world champions’ refusal to visit because of safety concerns. A major tour has now been replaced by the much less imposing one-day and Twenty20 visit from lowly Bangladesh. The postponement of the Australia tour also puts at risk the lucrative Champions Trophy tournament scheduled for September in Pakistan.

The loss of the financial bonus that would have resulted from a visit by Australia places extra strain on the Pakistan board’s already stretched finances. It also opens up the prospect of even more of their players showing interest in the affluent rebel ICL circuit. For a team struggling with inconsistency, which has recently lost a number of experienced players, the financial blow from Australia’s pullout is only part of Pakistan’s problem.

The decision by Cricket Australia to postpone the tour is understandable in light of all the recent unrest in Pakistan. Nevertheless, following the comment by Pakistan coach and former player Geoff Lawson, “The outside world thinks that this Australian team is arrogant and not well behaved,” this latest development won’t be regarded as a boost to that tarnished image.

Adding fuel to that argument is the fact that the Australian team continued the tour of England in 2005 despite a serious bomb attack in London. It also doesn’t help that India, where the Australians will now be able to compete in the IPL tournament, is not immune to incidents of this sort. This will lead to criticism that the Australians are selective about where they play, depending on their perception of the country issuing the invite and the size of the financial carrot being dangled.

Heaven forbid it happens, but if there is a bomb blast in India during the IPL tournament it’ll be interesting to note the reaction of individual players - especially in the light of the refusal of their players’ association to send a representative to Pakistan to review the security arrangements.

Nevertheless, a spate of bomb attacks around the time the decision to tour was being taken made it virtually impossible for CA to come to any other conclusion, especially with the players’ reluctance to travel to Pakistan.

So where does this leave international cricket? Well, there are the have-lots and the have-nots. India, Australia and England are all financially strong. The first two also have decent playing strength. England’s fortunes, seemingly on a steeply rising curve in 2005, now seem to be flatlining.

The finances of the other five major nations range from parlous to passable and the next few years are crucial in ensuring that this doesn’t have an adverse effect on the playing standards of West Indies and Pakistan.

Australia’s reluctance to tour Pakistan could also set a precedent, influencing the decisions of other countries due to tour there. Therefore, Pakistan badly needs India to show strong leadership and play in the Asia Cup next month. If that tournament goes off without a hitch, it will be hard for anyone to refuse to play in the Champions Trophy on the grounds of security fears.

There’s no doubt India is the financial strength of world cricket, but the next few months will determine where it ranks as a leader. The bulk of the major nations are banking on India to show strong guidance - none more so than their struggling neighbour.

Source:Cricket News

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This entry was posted on Monday, March 17th, 2008 and is filed under General, Cricket.

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