KARACHI: Former Pakistan captain Wasim Akram has called upon the Indian cricket authorities not to mix sports with politics following reports of the scheduled Pakistan-India bilateral series this December being cancelled.
Speaking on the sidelines of the media conference at the National Stadium for the 13-day fast bowlers’ camp, Wasim urged India to honour its commitments and play Pakistan as per the schedule.
Commenting on ex-Indian captain Saurav Ganguly’s controversial comments that the series should be called off because of the recent conflict on the border of the two countries, the legendary fast bowler said during his career he had no problems playing against India.
As per the Memorandum of Understanding, Pakistan and India are to play six series against each other in an eight-year period till 2023. In accordance with the stipulations of the memorandum, the Pakistan Cricket Board had requested India to play the first of those series in December.
Ganguly in his comment backed the Indian cricket board secretary Anurag Thakur’s statement that in the current scenario the series cannot be staged.
“I think the BCCI is correct in saying that terror will have to completely go before play could happen. Because as human beings we also want terror to completely go,” Ganguly was quoted as saying in the Indian media. “So this has always been the case with an India-Pakistan series.
“As much as we understand that it is entertaining and it is a high-profile series, we cannot take away the sufferings which the people go through at the border.”
But Wasim urged the neighbouring country not to mix sports with politics.
“We shouldn’t be mixing sports with politics. Cricket is a binding force for both our countries. During my playing days, we toured India in 1999 when the [political] situation on the political front was not dissimilar to what we have today,” recalled Wasim.
Wasim emphasised the importance of an India-Pakistan series and described cricket matches between the two nations as magical.
“Just see the Ashes series between England and Australia. It’s always been very attractive. But to me, there is more to it when Pakistan play India or vice versa. The passion for cricket in the region is huge and there is tremendous interest on both sides of the border whenever a cricket series [between Pakistan and India] is on,” he said. “The focus should be on sports and not politics.”
Meanwhile, Wasim backed the PCB to hold the Pakistan Super League (PSL) early next year and pointed out he has no qualms about the venue.
“I think the cricket board is doing the right thing. The PSL is a great idea and should be held as planned. Personally, I see no worries whether it is played in our country or elsewhere. The fact is that we should at least make a start somewhere,” he stressed.
Meanwhile, Wasim expressed surprise over the omission of Sarfraz Ahmed from the two-match T20 series against Sri Lanka.
Speaking before the start of the second game at the Colombo’s R. Premadasa Stadium, Wasim rated the national ODI and T20 vice-captain as a vital cog in the national team.
“In view Sarfraz is our key player in all three forms of cricket and he has proved it time and again. Not playing in the first match [on Thursday] made no sense to me. I mean he is the vice-captain and to keep him out was ridiculous,” he reasoned.
“When he was overlooked for four [straight] matches at the World Cup, all of us were surprised to see Sarfraz not in the team and expressed our annoyance.
“He returned with a bang to prove that he shouldn’t have been dropped at all. As far as I’m concerned, Sarfraz should be playing in all three formats since he is our main player.”