Over the last few years, there’s been one major duel that’s been taking quite a bit of limelight. That’s the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) vs the Board of Cricket Control in India (BCCI). The bilateral ties are long gone and despite the previous FTPs and MoUs having India-Pakistan bilaterals in the past, India and Pakistan have not played bilateral cricket.
With the political and other relations not in good terms between the two nations, the Indian government hasn’t given BCCI and the Indian teams the permission to play Pakistan in bilateral series’. While the men’s games haven’t been impacted a lot, it’s the ICC ODI Women’s Championship that has been in major spotlight in this tiff between the PCB and BCCI.
The Women’s Championship plays a big role in how the teams qualify for the ICC Women’s World Cup. The top four teams along with the hosts earn direct qualification while the bottom four need to play a qualifying tournament in order to get entry. The Championship is a three-year cycle, which ends one year prior to the World Cup.
Hence, over the last two cycles, 2014-16 and 2018-20, India were supposed to play Pakistan for six points (three games). However, with the Indian government not giving BCCI the permission, both the series’ did not go ahead as planned. However, the ICC treated both of them differently.
Back in the 2016 when the 2014-16 cycle came to an end, the ICC Technical Committee awarded full points (two each for three games) to Pakistan. But that wasn’t the case this time around. The ICC Technical Committee which comprises of a three-member panel – Geoff Allardice (ICC general manager of cricket), Chris Tetley (ICC head of events) and Jonathan Hall (ICC general counsel), decided to split the points equally between the two teams.
There is one obvious question that will arise from this, why this stark contrast in the two different cycles? Like in the 2014-16 cycle, Pakistan were ready to play against India as per schedule this time too (the two nations were supposed to play a three-match ODI series between July 2019 and November 2019 in this current cycle of the ICC Women’s Championship). It was India who weren’t allowed and hence, forfeited the series. Then why were the points divided and Pakistan were deprived of full points like last time?
Back in 2016, the BCCI had not responded back properly on why they couldn’t play Pakistan in the championship cycle. Neither did they write to the ICC nor the PCB. Yes, it was clear that they needed permission from the Indian government. However, BCCI needed to respond back, which they failed to do.
This time around, this was pretty different according to the ICC. The BCCI clearly chalked out why they cannot play Pakistan in a bilateral series and they need government clearance to do so. In a media release, the ICC stated that the Indian board demonstrated that it could not get necessary government clearance and permissions to play against Pakistan.
Hence, that’s made a big difference. In fact, according to ESPNCricinfo, the BCCI started explaining and detailing out the reasons and made submissions to the ICC as early as 2018 as to why they cannot face Pakistan in bilateral cricket. That could’ve well been a major turning and convincing point which led to the ICC’s Technical Committee to come to a conclusion of splitting the points.
This had a huge impact on the qualifications. By virtue of these three shared points, India Women earned a direct qualification for the 2021 Women’s World Cup as they entered as the fourth-placed team (23 points) on the Championship points table. Pakistan reached 19 points with these three shared points. However, if the ICC would’ve gone ahead and taken cue from the decision they made in 2016, awarding Pakistan full points, it would’ve been Pakistan who would’ve qualified directly as the fourth-placed team.
It could seem slightly harsh on the Pakistan women’s side. For no fault of theirs, they paid the price and without cricket, the points were divided. Yes, there were a couple other bilaterals where points were shared too but that was due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the global halt in cricketing and sporting events. This is different. This series could’ve been played long before and Pakistan will now have to play the qualifying tournament to reach the 2021 World Cup instead of India Women.
However, if you see, BCCI is a private body and they cannot do anything against the wishes of the Indian government. Moreover, ICC or PCB or anyone cannot force any government, let alone the one in India. Hence, BCCI was more or less helpless in this situation and all they could do is given a valid explanation and reasoning, which they did unlike in 2016.
There’s absolutely no doubt BCCI and India are a cricketing powerhouse. But don’t think that has come into play here. This splitting of points between India and Pakistan for the Women’s championship could be a debatable topic. One could feel Pakistan were robbed while another could feel, no one can help it as political tensions took precedence and continue to do so.
There are two sides of a coin and both cannot be the same, two different perspectives come into picture. Both might seem valid. But it is what it is. The ICC has reasoned out why there’s contrasting decisions on the two cycles and hence, the points were shared. However, this India-Pakistan debate on the bilaterals, FTPs, MoUs and other things will go on and on.