After requesting an interview for the last two days, print media at Dubai International Stadium were granted the priviledge of a Q&A with PCB chairman Shaharyar Khan. Broadcast channels were permitted to attend and ask questions but no filming was allowed. However, the tete-a-tete was so interesting, everyone present went away with good copy.
Shaharyar Khan was keen to rectify the impression that he had gone to meet the BCCI without an invitation. This was far from the truth he reiterated. ‘BCCI president Shashank Manohar invited me to Mumbai on the sidelines of the ICC meeting in Dubai.”
When questioned as to whether BCCI secretary Anurag Thakur and Manohar seemed divided over the proposed Pakistan-India series, the PCB chairman was diplomatic. “It could be that Thakur was not aware of Manohar’s invitation to me.”
The chairman also cleared the air regarding the backdoor channel ‘wives diplomacy’ ferried about by the Head of the PCB Executive Committee, Najam Sethi. He made it clear that both his and Manohar’s respective wives had only gone shopping together, accepted as a norm in Asian hospitality.
However, he did throw a spanner in the works of both the BCCI and the ICC.
“For eight years we had no bilateral series between the two countries, with God’s will we will survive another eight years. If a series does take place, it will be a bonus, but the silence from the other side indicates to me that there will be no series in December. We do not wish to close doors so we will wait until the end of this month. If a decision is not forthcoming from the BCCI, our government may decide to withdraw us from the World Twenty20 tournament in India next year.”
Given that in the same press chat, Shaharyar Khan explained that Foreign Offices tend to be overly-cautious and that he has disagreed with his own Foreign Office in the past (namely, visiting Bangladesh for bilateral talks), the above statement appears aimed at what he referred to as the ‘silence’ of the BCCI. He did add “When the ICC has withdrawn umpire Aleem Dar from the India-South Africa series as a security precaution, how can we go as a team?”
Shaharyar Khan cleared the air regarding talk of a possible trilateral series in December 2015. He said that out of the Test teams, only Bangladesh would be free and even then, planning would take at least six weeks.
Although the chairman tried to appear duly unperturbed by recent happenings in Mumbai and Delhi, his disappointment at the failure of the talks and his declaration that a cancellation of the bilateral series would lead to reduced expenditure in development, were telling. Pakistani fans will have to console themselves with his reassurance that the Pakistan Super League has a separate budget and will not be affected by the current stalled talks between the two boards.