Is the timing of reviving India-Pakistan cricket ideal?
Traditionally, the more the two teams have stayed away from the field, the fondness for India-Pakistan bilateral cricket has grown.
Such has been the intensity of their clashes that their baying fans simply cannot accept any defeat at the hands of their rivals. The latest reopening of bilateral cricket comes after a good five years, the long break forced by the 26/11 terror attacks in Mumbai and its fall out between the two countries.
The Pakistan board has struggled due to its loss of revenue that has been accentuated by India’s refusal to play, the alarming security situation at home having already stopped them from hosting any international since March 2009, when the Sri Lanka team bus became a terror target in Lahore.
Such is the sensitive nature of bilateral political ties that it has come as no surprise that former skipper Sunil Gavaskar has criticised BCCI’s decision to resume India-Pakistan cricket.
The BCCI will have its reasons. India is the hub of global cricket revenue, but the board still needs vital support on the International Cricket Council’s high table to make sure its word always carries weight. The decision of the ICC not to discuss, but instead try and cajole the Indian board to end its opposition of the Decision Review System is a case in point.
Still, it is unfair to push such an unplanned series down the throats of players. The three ODIs and two Twenty20s have been slotted during a period when England would fly home for the Christmas break after a draining Test series.
With a long and busy season kicking off in Sri Lanka later this week, India players could also have used the fortnight’s break before gearing up for the One-day series. Instead, they will have to switch on immediately, and face the added pressure of playing Pakistan on home soil.
They will also will be more anxious to win against their traditional rivals, and that concern will only go up if India fail in the Test series against England.
While politicians, and cricket administrators, may gloat over the team that will arrive in their backyard, the players will be more worried about timing of it all.
By N. Ananthanarayanan