The mockery should have been avoided.
When the dust settles and the highly charged oratory duels subside, perhaps there will be space for better considered analysis on the recently concluded auction of the third installment of the Indian Premier League (IPL). Pakistan, whose 11 cricketers led the shortlist for the third IPL auction — the most representation from any one nation — failed to obtain contracts from IPL franchises.
Arguments that the decision not to select Pakistani cricketers was based purely on business and on franchises’ unwillingness to dispense with additional money for Pakistani players’ security are simply disingenuous. Cricketers from other nations — Australia, New Zealand, England and South Africa — receive the kind of security cover in India that can only be upgraded if the players are escorted in armored personnel carriers. It is laughable that this theory finds credence.
But cricket is an interesting sport. Unlike several other sports, international cricket — where cricketers represent their country and are contracted to a board that is at least quasi-governmental — is still more popular than league cricket. In this respect, IPL’s cricketers are mostly selected based on their current status as international cricketers representing their country, their past status as international cricketers or their potential as future international cricketers.
As representatives of a quasi-governmental board it is also appropriate that these international cricketers be subject to the diktats of the governments they represent. South African cricket bore the force of government diktat when some countries refused to tour South Africa in the years of apartheid — likewise today, Zimbabwe is ostracized by some boards as an extension of their governments’ foreign policies towards the African country.
Therefore, if following the 26/11 attacks, it was the Indian government’s diktat not to commit to ties with the quasi-governmental Pakistan Cricket Board (whose chairman is still a direct appointee of the President of Pakistan and chief patron of the PCB — Asif Ali Zardari) this is also fair and consistent with India’s intention to not engage with Pakistan.
That being the case, why were Pakistani cricketers placed on the auction in the first place? If the decision of the quasi-governmental BCCI was to maintain a suspension of ties with the PCB, then how did its subsidiary — the IPL — seemingly overrule this decision?
They say “with great power comes great responsibility”. Yesterday’s abomination was concoction of a cricket board drunk with power, and a government that thinks puerile jabs are to way to go when it is unable to force issues on the international political scene.
You don’t want Pakistan to play in India? Fine. You don’t want their cricketers to participate in the IPL? Fine. But this mockery could have been avoided. What was the Indian government trying to prove to Pakistan yesterday? What purpose did it serve? Why the pettiness?