Najam Sethi, chairman of the Pakistan Cricket Board, made it clear on Friday that Pakistan will only travel to India for the ODI World Cup if the team led by Rohit Sharma is allowed to play the upcoming 2025 Asia Cup and Champions Trophy in their country.
The Asian Cricket Council (ACC) recently rejected the "hybrid model", which the former journalist believes is the only viable solution until India and Pakistan start competing in their respective countries.
Shetty also said that if India came to Pakistan, its national team would have no problem playing in any Indian city, including Ahmedabad.
Excerpts from an exclusive interview withPTI:
Q: What is the status of the Asian Cup and how is ACC responding to your proposed hybrid model?
LIKE:In the current scenario, we have clarified that we will play four games in Pakistan and play the remaining games at a neutral venue that we can mutually agree on. The Asian Cricket Council can make two decisions.
Either, as I suggested, they can say, "Okay, let's publish the fixture list," or they can say, "No, we want to play all the games at a neutral venue."
Sethi said the two main revenue-generating members of the ACC are India and Pakistan and the withdrawal of one of them (Pakistan) will worry broadcasters.| Photo: AP
If they take first place, everything is settled and we have a breakthrough. If they finish second, I'm afraid we won't go to the Asian Cup. This is the current position. Awaiting reply from Mr Jay Shah and other colleagues.
Q: Does it make sense for Pakistan to remain in the ACC if they are not in the Asian Cup?
LIKE:This has to be checked by the Asian Cricket Council. The next candidate for the chair of the Asian Cricket Council is the PCB. Now it's our turn. We are therefore very keen to remain in the Asian Cricket Council. let me go beyond that. There can be no ACC without Pakistan.
The two main revenue-generating members of the ACC are India and Pakistan. Their games bring in 80 percent of the broadcasting rights. If Pakistan does not participate in the Asian Cup, then the broadcaster, i.e. HStern, will have problems.
The $45 or $46 million that is expected to come in for the (Asia Cup) series will mostly come from those games and due to the structure of the Asian Cup, Pakistan and India will play at least two games and if they choose to play for the qualify for the final, it is the third race.
ICC Rankings: India slips to #3, Australia remains #1 in the world for ODIs
That's why India and Pakistan are as important to the cup as they are to the board.
So it has to be mentioned that at the last ACC meeting in Bahrain I presented the hybrid model to save the Asian Cup as India refused to play in Pakistan, the host country, and that's where the problem arose.
I said that one solution is that I find a neutral venue for India's games.
The President of the BCB (Bangladesh Cricket Board) had said at the time that the option of Pakistan not participating in the Asian Cup was out of the question.
If India comes to Pakistan the masses will be welcome but if India doesn't come and doesn't give a logical reason not to come to Pakistan when the whole world comes to Pakistan then that's the solution I have in mind. We will play against India at a neutral venue, but the rest of the countries have to come and play their games in Pakistan.
We went so far as to say we should only play four games in Pakistan and play the rest on neutral ground.
That is why we not only gave solutions to a problem, but also to the World Cup and the Champions Trophy (in Pakistan in 2025). Because if we don't go to India and play, there will be a problem. And if India doesn't come to Pakistan for the Champions Trophy (2025), then there will be a problem.
Q: The fact that India is not traveling to Pakistan is due to political tensions. But don't you think that following the arrest of former Prime Minister Imran Khan, given the current security situation, other teams will be reluctant to travel to Pakistan?
LIKE:Imran Khan's state of protest has lasted for six months. The New Zealand national team was playing in Rawalpindi, Lahore and Karachi when Imran Khan's protest took place.
Former Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan, a pro-centre supporter, was recently arrested in a bribery case but the Supreme Court granted him bail and a two-week suspended sentence.| Photo: AP
So that's no problem. The security granted to these groups is the security of the VVIP President and takes precedence over all others.
Q: If there is a little hiccup in Islamabad. Does that mean you can't play cricket in Pindi, Multan, Lahore or Karachi?
LIKE:No, that means not. Let me explain. It's May and we're talking about the Asian Cup in September. Give me a break. They say Pakistan will be on fire in September and won't be able to play cricket? So why not wait until September and see what happens?
If the situation is such that the teams cannot be given security, I will be the first to say: let's move it to a neutral venue for all games. Do you think we want our esteemed guests in Pakistan to face any unrest? No, we don't. We take care of them. Let's be responsible.
Q: Why can't Ahmedabad host the India vs Pakistan game since Pakistan played at this stadium in 2005?
LIKE:I never said that. I was just saying that no one from BCCI asked us anything about Ahmedabad. For some strange reason, the horse is bridled from behind here.
You ask me whether we will play in Ahmedabad or not, but I'll tell you, the real question is whether we will play in India or not.
Babar Azam says Pakistan is "in a good position" for the 2023 ODI World Cup after losing to New Zealand
We will play India when India plays Pakistan. But if India is not playing in Pakistan, then why in India? So my solution was to have the India-Pakistan Games played at a neutral venue. That's all. You can't have your cake and eat it at the same time.
Now coming to Ahmedabad, if India comes to Pakistan, we will provide VVIP security at every venue and dare I say we travel to India on mutual terms. If India asks us to play in Ahmedabad on mutual terms, we will have no problem.
We will play where they want us to play because we expect them to give us the security we need, just like India would require us to give them security at any venue if India is in Pakistan would play.
Honestly, Ahmedabad is not an issue. First, let's solve that India and Pakistan are playing in each other's countries.
Q: If the ACC agrees to a four-game hybrid model, will Pakistan play India in the World Cup, with Pakistan vs. India in Bangladesh possibly not being a viable solution?
LIKE:Look, the topic at the moment is the Asian Cup. I want the hybrid model to work and be successful.
It's a World Championship and Champions Trophy formula. Because if India refuses to come to Pakistan for the Champions Trophy, we will be in trouble.
If Pakistan refuses to go to India, there will be trouble, right? The main reason is that India does not come to Pakistan. Either we don't play at all or we compromise when we move the ball forward.
The PCB boss said that playing in Ahmedabad has never been a problem for Pakistan. The problem was whether the reverse was possible.| Photo: AP
So let's give a solution.
India and Pakistan progress in all tournaments - the Asian Cup, the World Cup and the Champions Trophy do not play against each other in the respective country. It was nothing. The game will still go on.
Q: In the ICC revenue model, India gets about 38.5 percent. It's a suggestion, but do you agree?
LIKE:We have asked the ICC to give us full details of the ideas and formulas behind this model.
The ICC has given us some of what we want, but not all of what we want. We contact the ICC to provide us with the assumptions on which this model is based and the formulas used to create this model.
It is not enough to tell us that these are the facts. According to the ICC statutes, every member has the right to know how things work and how certain decisions are made. We await those details and will continue from there.