T20 World Cup: As Politics Trumps Cricket, ICC Unlikely to Punish BCCI for Dharamsala Chaos
The International Cricket Council is unlikely to punish BCCI after it was forced to move the India-Pakistan T20 World Cup match from Dharamsala to Kolkata due to unforeseen security concerns.
The Board of Control for Cricket in India certainly lost face when the International Cricket Council was forced to shift the marquee India versus Pakistan T20 World Cup clash out of Dharamsala due to security concerns. After all, Dharamsala was a venue handpicked by BCCI secretary Anurag Thakur. (Dharamsala Loses India vs Pakistan ICC World T20 Match to Kolkata)
The reluctance of the Congress-led Himachal Pradesh state government to host Pakistan players citing "patriotic" reasons was a solid card that the state's octogenarian chief minister Virbhadra Singh played at the eleventh hour to scupper Thakur's plans to host possibly the biggest match of the T20 World Cup. (ICC World T20: Pakistan Cricket Board Welcomes India-Pakistan Game Venue Shift, But Team Departure Still on Hold)
Thakur is a young BJP Minister of Parliament and insiders see Virbhadra's plans as a carefully worked out plan to york the BCCI secretary ambitious designs for the controversial Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association. (T20 World Cup: Anurag Thakur Slams Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister for Drama in Dharamsala)
While questions have been raised as to why Dharamsala was chosen to host a massive game like India versus Pakistan, there is little doubt that politics trumped cricket leaving BCCI with egg on its face. (Pakistan Await Government Okay to Head to India for T20 World Cup)
Dharamsala's loss is Kolkata's gain and with Assemble elections lurking, West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee will score some brownie points at BCCI (read BJP's) expense. Probably, Eden Gardens would have been the right venue to host a derby game like India versus Pakistan. (India vs Pakistan T20 World Cup: Match Shifted From Dharamsala to Kolkata -- Ten Developments)
ICC has understood Himachal Pradesh's intolerance towards Pakistani cricketers. The Pakistan Cricket Board was justified in refusing to play in Dharamsala. In recent times, Australia cancelled a tour of Bangladesh due to security concerns.
ICC CEO David Richardson told reporters in New Delhi on Wednesday that it was too premature to even think of "punishing" BCCI because of the Dharamsala chaos.
After getting a ringside view of politics that prevails in a "complicated" and "big" country like India, Richardson, a former South African Test player and lawyer only had his sympathies for the world's richest Board that could not duck a bouncer it never saw coming.
"Security of players is of prime concern. ICC hasn't thought of punishing BCCI at this stage...India is a complicated country. There are challenges for BCCI. We accept that," Richardson said.
It has been evident once again that one can't keep sports away from politics. But when politicians play their cards to win personal battles, it only queers the pitch and the image of a nation suffers.
After the Dharamsala incident, the Lodha panel's recommendation to keep politicians and ministers away from the BCCI, will only gather more steam.