File image of India captain Rohit Sharma and Pakistan captain Babar Azam© AFP
The England and Wales Cricket Board has informally offered to be the hosts if India and Pakistan plan to play a bilateral Test series but BCCI sources said chances of that happening in the near future is “next to nil”. The UK daily ‘Telegraph’ reported that “Martin Darlow, the deputy chairman of the England and Wales Cricket Board, has held talks with the Pakistan Cricket Board during the current Twenty20 series and offered England’s grounds as venues ideally for a three-match Test series in future.” While the ECB has made the offer for its own commercial gains, the powers that be in the BCCI laughed off the suggestions and said that no such possibilities might arise at least in the next few years.
“Firstly, ECB spoke to PCB about an Indo-Pak series and that’s a bit weird. In any case, a series against Pakistan is not something that the BCCI will decide but it is the decision of the government. As of now, the stance remains the same. We only play Pakistan at multi-team events,” a senior BCCI official privy to India’s position told PTI on Tuesday.
India and Pakistan last played a short bilateral white-ball series back in 2012 in India and the last Test series dates back to 2007.
With the tense political relations between the neighbours, it is a big ‘No’ from BCCI irrespective of whether it is played at home, away or a neutral venue.
The newspaper states precisely the reason why the ECB made the “generous offer”.
“The matches would attract big crowds in the UK, which has a large ex-pat south Asian population,” it said.
“The matches attract huge sponsorship revenue and television audiences.” However, the paper made it clear that even “PCB is not keen on playing India at neutral venue but are grateful for the ECB’s offer, which shows the growing relationship between the two boards.” It stated that with the big nations again starting to tour Pakistan, it will be a “retrograde step in their eyes” if they happen to play on a neutral venue.
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