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India is spoiling the pleasure of cricket lovers by refusing to allow its team to participate in the Asia Cup, which is to be hosted by Pakistan.

In an attempt to save the situation Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) Chairman Najam Sethi has presented the Asian Cricket Council, headed by Indian home affairs minister Amit Shah’s son, Jay Shah, who is also the secretary of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), with a ‘hybrid plan’.

In it, he has proposed that Pakistan host all games and India play their matches at a neutral venue; or the tournament should be divided into two phases with Pakistan hosting the first round of games and for India to play all their matches in the second phase. And that the final be held at a neutral venue.

There could be no better solution than this. Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, which appeared to be siding with India, have also extended their support to this plan. But, even before seeing the proposals, a senior BCCI official, said “there is no change in our stance”.

He insisted on a venue of his side’s choice: not the UAE, the usual locale suggested by Pakistan, but Sri Lanka. PCB has rightly warned the BCCI that it should expect the same stance from this side when the World Cup is held in India later this year. The International Cricket Council (ICC), governing body of international cricket, should break its silence and intervene to resolve the issue in the greater interest of the game and the legions of cricket enthusiasts.

It also needs to review a new unjust revenue distribution model, likely to be approved at its board meeting next month. According to leaked details of this revenue sharing formula, India is to walk away with 38.5 percent of the ICC’s projected earnings, England and Australia would pocket 6.89 percent and 6.25 percent, respectively, while Pakistan would get 5.75 percent — primarily from the sale of its media rights.

There is no quarrel about India receiving more money than the others since it generates lion’s share of the revenue, but others who contribute to it by participation also deserve a fair deal. While conceding that in principle India should get more, Sethi has rightly demanded to know how the ICC’s finance and commercial affairs committee presided by the BCCI secretary arrived at these figures.

Expressing Pakistan’s disquiet, he told a news agency in London, “come June, when the board is expected to approve the financial model, unless these details are provided to us, we are not going to approve it.”

Former England captain Mike Atherton seemed to echo Pakistan’s concerns in an article he wrote for The Times where he said: “if that distribution comes to pass, the strong will get stronger, and the weak weaker (relatively) and international cricket will continue to become less competitive which is in nobody’s long-term interest.”

Copyright Business Recorder, 2023

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