Pakistan cricket doesn't need India to survive, says PCB chief Mani

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15 Apr 2020 | 07:25 AM
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Pakistan cricket doesn't need India to survive, says PCB chief Mani

Mani also said that Pakistan won't agree to allow the Asia Cup to be cancelled so that the IPL could be played

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The Pakistan Cricket Board has suffered massive revenue losses but it doesn't need India to "survive" and keep its finances flowing, PCB chairman Ehsan Mani said.

Terming the BCCI as "unreliable", Mani said Pakistan cricket is vibrant and strong enough despite not playing any bilateral series with India for long.

"We have suffered losses but they (India) are not in our thinking or planning. It is like a Pie in the Sky situation. We have to live without them and we don't need them to survive," he said in a podcast released by the PCB's media department.

"I am clear if India doesn't want to play we have to plan without them. Once or twice they have made promises to play against us but pulled out at the last moment," the former ICC head added.

India had avoided playing Pakistan in a full bilateral series since the Mumbai terror attacks in 2008.

Mani said resumption of bilateral cricketing ties with India in the foreseeable future is uncertain.

"Right now we play against them (India) in ICC events and Asia Cup and that is okay because we are interested in playing cricket.

We want to keep politics and sports apart," he said.

We will safeguard interest of our players and employees

The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) has promised to safeguard the interest of its players and employees amidst the COVID-19 crisis but hinted that it could settle for lower price while selling fresh broadcast rights.

Mani admitted in a podcast, that the PCB might to have lower its expectations while selling its bilateral international cricket series rights and renewing sponsorship with PepsiCo.

"Cricketers are the biggest stakeholders in Pakistan cricket. Domestic and International and the centrally contracted and domestic players I want to assure them we will safeguard their interests till we can," he said.

Mani said there will be no unusual pay cuts for the international and domestic players apart from the performance-based decisions.

He also assured the Board employees that there are no plans for layoffs.

"We will not make any staff redundant. But our internal restructuring will continue. At the same time the pensions for former players and officials will continue to be given and our priorities are on safeguarding players and our staff."

He also said if any former player or domestic player were in any distress in the existing circumstances they can approach the Board which has always been there to provide help where possible specially in health cases.

He said if costs have to be cut they will be done by making things more efficient.

Mani confirmed that the Board's most important commercial contract was its bilateral series media rights which have now expired.

"We have good cricket content until 2023 with home series against Australia, England, New Zealand and South Africa also in the works. But marketing and monetising them is a challenge for us because we have to understand even broadcasters are going through economic pressures," he said.

He admitted that broadcasters might not give the PCB the money they gave before but the Board has to show flexibility in its expectations and aspirations.

"They are our major partners in cricket. But we have to also have certainty when international cricket will return full-time to Pakistan."

Won't agree to Asia Cup cancellation to accommodate IPL

Mani has asserted that the PCB will not agree to cancelling the Asia Cup, scheduled in the UAE in September, to make room for the Indian Premier League, which has been postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The IPL was to be held from March 29 to May 24 but has been postponed indefinitely because of a extended lockdown to combat the deadly virus in India.

"I have read and heard about these speculations but right now just remember that having or not having the Asia Cup is not a decision between Pakistan and India it involves other countries as well," asserted Mani.

Pakistan were to host the event but it was shifted to Dubai and Abu Dhabi after India expressed reluctance to come here owing to security concerns and the strained diplomatic ties between the two countries.

"...it is important to have the Asia Cup if cricket activities resume by then because development of Asian cricket depends on funding from the tournament. It is important for many countries who are members of the Asian Cricket Council," he added.

However, he also conceded that holding the Asia Cup this year is a big challenge because right now "we don't know if it can be held or not."

"But if the conditions change and we can have the Asia Cup, it must be held as earnings from it are distributed as development funds to member countries for next two years," he said.

He said reports about the Asia Cup being hosted by Bangladesh or UAE were mere speculation at this stage.

Speaking about another big event, Mani warned that if the T20 World Cup, to be held in Australia in October-November, is postponed, the financial fallout will be big for many countries.

"The financial impact will be felt by many countries if the ICC can't distribute their shares from the tournament. Many countries including Pakistan will feel the pinch," he admitted.

Mani confirmed that Pakistan was to receive around USD 7 to 8 million in June and January.

"Pakistan is fortunate it has good financial controls in place and in short term, it will be better off than most countries if the lockdowns continue because of the coronavirus pandemic," he claimed.

"We are to get 7 to 8 Million dollars from the ICC in June but we know they might not come so we have planned accordingly," he added.

On whether Pakistan's forthcoming tours to Holland, Ireland and England between late June and August will go ahead, Mani said the PCB was prepared for disruptions.

But he ruled out resumption of international cricket in empty stadiums.

"Empty stadiums also offer their big challenges as teams have to travel by air and stay in hotels so the risks start there. The logistical arrangements have to be manageable," he explained.

Mani said Pakistan was prepared to show goodwill and flexibility and support the hosts of these tours.

"We wouldn't mind if two series are held at the same time like one team playing Tests and another white-ball cricket. In these difficult times we need to support each other," he said.

Mani also revealed that Pakistan had shown interest in hosting several ICC tournaments to be held between 2023 and 2031, including the ICC Youth Cup and World Cups.

"Unfortunately the last time the cycle of ICC events were bid for the big three, India, Australia and England distributed all the main events among themselves. This time I can say there are more countries interested in hosting the events," he said.

PCB wants legislation to criminalise match-fixing in cricket

The Pakistan Cricket Board has asked the government to legislate a law that would criminalise match-fixing and spot-fixing in cricket.

Mani said at present they don't have the legal authority to call witnesses or check bank accounts and other details to deeply probe corruption cases.

"I have already spoken to the government about this because other cricket playing nations like Australia, New Zealand, Sri Lanka have enacted laws that make match-fixing a criminal offence," he said.

He said the PCB had closely followed the procedure adopted by the Sri Lankan board while legislating its law against match fixers.

"We are studying their procedure closely and we also want corruption acts in cricket to be considered a criminal act," he said.

Mani, however, made it clear that until that is done the PCB would continue to follow the existing ICC Anti-Corruption Code which allows players to return to cricket again after completing a ban period and rehabilitation process.

"I will not talk about individuals but right now players who have completed bans and undergone rehab have the right to play again and it applies to everyone," he said.

Pakistan has witnessed a number of corruption cases over the years with players such as Test captain Salim Malik, Danish Kaneria, Salman Butt, Mohammad Asif, Mohammad Amir, Sharjeel Khan and Khalid Latif -- all caught in either match-fixing or spot-fixing.

Recently, left-handed opener Sharjeel was offered another chance to play for the national team after completing a two and a half year ban for spot-fixing in the Pakistan Super League.

It led to a huge debate on PCB's policy on allowing tainted players back in the national team.

Former captains, Ramiz Raja, Mohammad Hafeez and Shahid Afridi have all strongly spoken out against giving a second chance to guilty players.

Ramiz said in a recent interview that his blood boiled when left-arm pacer, Amir was allowed back into the Pakistan team.

Pakistan batting great Javed Miandad had also said that cricketers involved in match fixing should be hanged.

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