Pakistan’s cricket chief Najam Sethi has said his predecessor spurned an offer by India to join the so-called “big three” during a major reorganization of the game’s administration.
The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) was initially one of three countries that opposed the revamp of the International Cricket Council (ICC) approved by members in February. The move handed the majority of the powers and revenues to the “big three” of the game—India, Australia and England. Pakistan and Sri Lanka abstained from voting on the reforms, but since then Sri Lanka has hinted it will sign the draft.
Sethi, who will attend the ICC meeting in Dubai on April 9-10, said Pakistan were offered a seat at the table but declined. “The big three of the ICC had invited Pakistan to be part of a ‘big four’ plan but the administration under former PCB chairman Zaka Ashraf refused the offer, to the detriment of the country,” Sethi said as he was preparing to leave late Monday. “In the cricketing scenario, currently there are eight countries at one side and Pakistan at the other. The ICC doesn’t need Pakistan after the rejection of such a rare offer.”
Reacting to the claims, Ashraf confirmed an offer was floated at one stage but said it was never a firm commitment. “They did offer us to join the group but when I went to attend the ICC meeting in February India stepped back from its offer, claiming two other members of the body—Australia and England—are not ready to admit Pakistan as a fourth member,” he said.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif sacked Ashraf two days after the “big three” reforms were approved, reappointing Sethi who himself was suspended by the Islamabad High Court in January over alleged irregularities in his appointment.
Ashraf said India’s assurances were never made in writing. “Whatever India offered us were not on paper and we could not have taken those verbal assurances,” Ashraf told reporters.
Sethi said his main aim now was to revive ties with India. “A series against India would bring huge revenue to the PCB besides bringing peace and prosperity to the region as the cricketing ties have been suspended for many years,” said Sethi. “Until and unless we play with India, we won’t make any money. Everyone is toeing India’s line because playing with India makes you money.”
India has not played a full bilateral series with Pakistan since the 2008 terror attacks on Mumbai. Pakistan toured India for a brief limited-over series in December 2012-January 2013.