No Pakistani in IPL is a matter of shame
Avijit Ghosh, 20 January 2010, 04:53 PM IST
Pakistan are the current T20 world champions. Shahid Afridi, Umar Gul, Mohammed Aamer, Saeed Ajmal and company played some enthralling cricket to claim the trophy last year. Since then, Pakistan have seen another exciting batsman emerge on the horizon: Umar Akmal. Therefore, it defies logic that nobody wanted to buy the 11 Pakistani players in the IPL 3 auction on Tuesday.
What's the reason? Let us go through what has been proffered by the men and women involved with IPL. Some team owners have said that the Pakistani players had a problem of availability during the period. That's nonsense. Unlike the top Aussie players, they are available for the entire duration. In fact, West Indian Kemar Roach, a Deccan Chargers buy, will miss the first two games. That's because the Zimbabwe tour of West Indies gets over on March 14 while IPL 3 begins on March 12. The second Deccan Chargers game will be held on March 14.
Another gentleman was heard mouthing that the Pakistanis were not chosen because this was a short auction. There were too few players to be bought, he said. This logic doesn't hold either. The truth is that the owners spent sums as high as $720,000 and $610,000 for the likes of Parnell and Roach, while ignoring Aamer and Gul. Are we saying that the former two are better bowlers than Aamer (who is also emerging as a handy bat) and Gul? Or that the Pakistanis are not even worth $100,000? And have we forgotten that Afridi was the man of the series in the T20 World Cup 2009.
One logic being offered is that franchisees were not keen to have Pakistani players because there is an element of uncertainty involving them. Simply put, the relationship between the two countries is already edgy and could always get worse. In that case, the Pakistani players might go back. So why take the trouble?
Even this argument is specious. Sure, nobody would want to invest a huge amount in a 'risky' player. But then isn't investing over $750,000 in Keiron Pollard any less risky? What's the guarantee he will succeed? What about investing $750,000-plus in Bond, once a great bowler, now extremely injury prone. Let us not forget he's currently injured too. Besides, he is 30-plus and certainly not as quick as he used to be. Surely investing $300,000 or whatever in Mohammed Aamer would have been less risky - even though nobody can ever rule out problems in relations between the two countries. In a squad of 20-plus players, surely that was worth the risk.
Undeniably this is a shameful episode in Indian cricket history. And if it is a question of politics, then Indian authorities should have been upfront and open about it. Lalit Modi should at least say sorry to the Pakistani players. That's only in the fitness of things. It would be great if those who are proactive about peace in the Indian government ensure that Pakistani players are able to play in IPL 3.
Most of the current Australian players will be missing out on IPL 3 due to international assignments. Now, if we don't have any player from the champion T20 side in the world, then IPL 3 will indeed be vastly devalued.
Without the Pakistani players, Modi and company can still have the spectacle. But for me, IPL 3 will be nothing more than a bonfire of corporate vanities.
IPL franchisees are right in ignoring Pak players
Rajesh Kalra, 21 January 2010, 02:03 PM IST
The media has been relentless in panning the IPL franchisees for ignoring Pakistan players for the third installment of Indian Premier League. Commentators and intellectual columnists have uniformly cried foul over this shameful omission.
My take on this, however, is different. Whether there was an understanding between the franchisees before the bid began, or the government nudged the franchisees to ignore Pak players is irrelevant, really. Given the mood in the nation, I think having players from across the border makes little sense, at least not for the franchisees.
I am not for a moment saying the Pakistani players are bad or do not have a fan following here. On the contrary, they regularly produce some of the most talented, and watchable, players in the world, so what if they play irresponsibly at times, and then surprise everyone with sterling performances that border genius. But the ground reality is different.
We all know the fan following in the current scenario is fickle. Fans may adore someone, but one brutal attack in Kashmir or elsewhere will change the situation diametrically in a jiffy. Now, if I am a franchisee who has invested in a Pakistani player, why would I risk it? And it is not just risking the franchisee’s reputation, it is even risking the safety of players from all over the world, on the ground, in the hotel where they stay and while they travel. Why would a franchisee invest heavily in a great player if the wrongdoings by his country somewhere works against his interest? The franchisee, after all is investing in these teams for brand building, not negative publicity.
Even from the organisers and government’s point of view, not having players from Pakistan helps. Sporting events are organized so that there is great competition and everyone enjoys a good contest. But if that contest has even a small chance of endangering spectators and players safety, it is not a risk worth taking.
Now back to Pakistani players, I once again reiterate that they are among the best in the game, and to be fair to them, the way the auctions were held was unsavoury. Here, assuming that the IPL or the government was instrumental in nudging franchisees not to bid for Shahid Afridi and others, as a respect to the sportspersons at least, it should have been handled differently. Instead of including them among the players available and then ‘humiliating’ them, they should have simply said, sorry, given the current scenario, we are unable to welcome you for the IPL. It would have hurt too, but less.
Ultimately, as I said, it is the franchisee that is spending and if he feels it does not help his brand, he would not. In that context therefore, it would help if Pakistani politicians stop the rhetoric that says this is India’s attempt to derail the peace process.
Inside story: All IPL teams agreed to shun Pak players
Indranil Basu, TNN, 21 January 2010, 12:04am IST
NEW DELHI: What was suspected after Tuesday’s auction of the Indian Premier League (IPL) is now confirmed - there was indeed a consensus among the team franchisees that none of them would bid for the Pakistani players. ( Watch Video )
Underlying this consensus were ambiguous signals from officialdom. Union sports minister MS Gill went on record on Wednesday insisting that neither his ministry nor the government had in any way nudged IPL teams to treat Pakistani players as untouchables. However, sources in the Indian cricket board (BCCI) gave TOI details of what transpired in the run-up to the auction, which suggest a more nuanced reality.
According to the sources, the BCCI initially told the franchisees that they could bid for Pakistani players and treat them just like cricketers from any other part of the world. Around the middle of December, the board also assured the teams that it would chip in with help for visas and other diplomatic clearances from the government.
However, when team owners asked the board "what guarantee will the franchisees have?", the board spoke to some government officials in the last week of December and reverted with the message that the government - understandably - couldn’t give "any guarantee". The prospects of possible terror attacks clearly contributed to this message.
Hence the IPL teams ignored the Pakistan players in auction as there was "no guarantee" from the government that these players would get visas and other clearances.
Also adding to the jitters of the IPL teams were apprehensions of possible disruption of IPL matches by parties like the Raj Thackeray-led Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) and Shiv Sena in the event of Pakistani players participating. With Mumbai slated to host a major chunk of IPL matches in the forthcoming season - including seven home matches of the Mumbai Indians in the league and some knock-out matches - this became a major concern.
In fact, team managements said they were already getting calls from Australian players asking how seriously they should treat the threat by the Shiv Sena that it would not allow Australians to play in India in retaliation for the racist attacks on Indians Down Under.
"Security is a huge factor and it’s only the team owners who will have to take up the responsibility. BCCI is not responsible for internal security in the IPL. The board had asked the government if the Pakistanis would be safe in a place like Mumbai. The answer wasn’t too convincing with a senior state government functionary pointing out that barely a year had elapsed since the 26/11 terror attack in Mumbai," a BCCI insider told TOI on Wednesday.
"There was no direction from the board. The indication from the board was that the Pakistani players are shortlisted and you guys can bid for them. But they may not be welcomed in a place like Mumbai," a team official added. That, it appears, was enough to spook the franchisees into steering clear of Pakistani players.
The reputation of some of the Pakistani cricketers who had participated in the first season of the IPL in 2008 didn’t help either. The Delhi Daredevils were put off by Mohd Asif’s antics, while Shahid Afridi did not have a great relationship with Deccan Chargers.
The sources also said the ‘boycott’ of Pakistani players was likely to continue for similar reasons till such time as India and Pakistan resume bilateral cricketing ties. In other words, despite the homilies often trotted out about separating sports and politics, this is one case where politics will remain a determining factor.
Figure this out. Eleven Pakistani men, most of them members of the squad that won the 2009 Twenty20 world championship, were among the cricketers up for auction. Eight franchisees of the Indian Premier League were looking to add punch to their teams in season three, exuding the enticing mix of glamour, guile and strategising that’s made the auction the IPL’s most self-celebratory event. It is a moment when the older ethos of cricket, based on the domestic and international calendars, is contrasted with the go-getting flamboyance of the IPL franchisees, all too often a moment when the future reveals itself. On Tuesday, when a bunch of cricketers including the 11 Pakistanis went under the hammer, that possible future revealed itself to be heartless. On that day not one of the 11 Pakistanis, each of whom was up for auction because each had been considered by at least one franchisee in the preparatory stage, received a single bid.
It is not immediately clear whether the team owners had been explicitly told not to grab the Pakistanis, among them Shahid Afridi (a game-changer on his day, which still comes by often enough) and Sohail Tanvir (the best bowler of IPL-I). Maybe the franchisees have a point when they say they were driven by considerations of player availability. After all, between them the Indian government and the IPL — led by its imperious commissioner, Lalit Modi — organised enough of an obstacle race last month to put doubts in the team owners’ minds. Then, crude ultimatums were issued to some of the Pakistanis by Modi on the pretext that they had not completed their paperwork and obtained visas. Maybe all that the team strategists were doing was pick up the signals emanating from the government and the IPL. After all, the Pakistan government too had been reluctant to allow their cricketers to participate in IPL-II, post-26/11.
However, none of that rationalisation lets anyone off the hook, not the governments, not the IPL, not the franchisees. Each in its own way has damaged the special place cricket has held during even the worst phases in India-Pakistan ties. Many times cricket between India and Pakistan has been suspended, but never has one country insulted the other’s cricketers. And whenever cricketers have been asked to prop up normalisation efforts, they have gamely obliged. Even if it be that no one explicitly set off Tuesday’s outrage, the result has damaged the game. Again it has been shown that cricket, with all the qualities and messages that attach to it, is not safe with the IPL.
IPL should not have created false hopes
The Indian Premier League auction’s hammer has come down hard on Pakistan cricket. Like a jilted lover, the cricket fan here is heart-broken, confused and angry. The question he asks is how could the Twenty20 world champions not have a buyer? The IPL has a huge presence here in Pakistan. The country’s only sports channel beams the games live and has successfully replicated the magic of the event that enraptures audiences in India.
Today, however, the mood has changed. The cable operator association has vowed to block the event. The other great Indian import, Hindi cinema, has also come under pressure. The Sports Ministry and Parliament have got the knives out, terming this selection as a snub, and as a great Indian conspiracy to insult the nation and belittle the status of its cricketers. The players seem to be on the same page as the politicians and the media. This is not cricket, they say. All hell has broken loose.
Press Trust Of India
Karachi, January 21, 2010
First Published: 10:28 IST(21/1/2010)
Last Updated: 12:14 IST(21/1/2010)
Former Pakistan captain Zaheer Abbas has suggested that the national hockey team should be withdrawn from the World Cup in India to protest the "humiliating" treatment meted out to the country's cricketers at the Indian Premier League auction.
Abbas said he would talk to sports minister Ejaz Jakhrani on the matter. The World Cup is due to held from last week of February in Delhi with Pakistan facing India in their opening match of a tournament they have not won since 1994.
"We need to make some sort of strong statement conveying our feelings over the way the IPL organisers and franchises deliberately insulted our cricketers at the auction," Abbas said.
Not a single Pakistani cricketer found a buyer at the glitzy auction held in Mumbai on Tuesday.
The former Test batsman said Pakistan must be clear about its sports policy with India and act accordingly.
"We must be clear about how we should have sporting relations with India because for the last one year they have been doing everything possible to hurt our image and isolate us internationally," he said.
Jakhrani was also in a belligerent mood while talking to the media after the national assembly and said Pakistan would be reviewing its sporting ties with India.
Jakhrani said the Pakistan Cricket Board should have taken into consideration everything before pressing the government to give clearance for Pakistani players to take part in the IPL.
"The PCB should have been more careful and analytical. And I will bring up this issue with the chief patron of the board," he said.
Dasti, the Chairman of the National Assembly standing committee on sports blamed the PCB leadership for the humiliation the players had to face at the IPL auction.
"This is not the first time the board and Chairman, Ejaz Butt have failed miserably to handle things properly and read the situation correctly," he said.
"That is why the NA standing committee has urged the chief patron to immediately change the Chairman of the board and make other changes in the cricket set-up," he said.
Dasti said it was the PCB's job to give proper advice to players on whether to make themselves available for the IPL or not.
"The PCB should have first got some assurance from the IPL chairman, Lalit Modi before allowing our players to send their clearance to the Indians," Dasti added
Abhijeet Kulkarni and Bivabasu Kumar, Hindustan Times
Mumbai , January 20, 2010
First Published: 00:10 IST(20/1/2010)
Last Updated: 15:25 IST(20/1/2010)
India have fetched record prices, but there were no takers for the current world Twenty20 champions Pakistan.
That’s the message the third auction of the Indian Premier League sent out on Tuesday, when none of the 11 Pakistanis up for sale received any bids.
No, not even Shahid Afridi, the player of the tournament in the 2007 World Twenty20 and the man of match in both the semifinal and final of last summer’s T20 carnival.
No one would admit there was any directive of any sort to avoid bidding for Pakistani players. All Rajasthan Royals’ co-owner Shilpa Shetty would say was the franchises “were not convinced about their (the Pakistanis’) availability and that’s why did not want to take a risk.”
But privately, bidders admitted it was more than just visa hassles. “There was nothing official told but it was basically a pure business decision,” a franchise official told HT. “The IPL is a commercial proposition, owned by businessmen and no one wanted to risk upsetting the government.”
And Pakistan reacted angrily. PTI quoted Afridi as saying from Brisbane the way he saw it, “IPL and India have made fun of us and our country. We are the Twenty20 World Champions and the attitude of the franchisees was disappointing. I feel bad for the Indian people…”
All-rounder Abdul Razzaq indicated he saw the snub as a joint strategy between the IPL and the government to insult Pakistani players, while Pakistan Cricket Board chief Ijaz Butt told HT he was “shocked”.
“It’s not only shocking, but very disappointing as well. We were hoping that things would be all right and they had also confirmed that most of our players would be considered.”
He also said there were no visa issues with any of the 11 players. “We were given permission to travel to India from our foreign office and the ministry. All 11 Pakistani players in the IPL auction list had their papers ready and the sports minister in India was very kind to expedite things to ensure they were not troubled. I really don't know what went wrong, but it hurts.”
Meanwhile, the other issue that had a couple of top Indian players unhappy was how much players like Keiron Pollard and Shane Bond went for.
“It is quite possible that both Pollard and Bond went for almost as much, if not more, than some of the icon players,” said a player from Bangladesh. “And Roach, a complete unknown (he went for $720,000/Rs. 3.3 crore), must be laughing all the way to the bank.”
While Pollard and Bond both received the maximum open bid possible, of $750,000 (Rs. 3.43 cr), they were both ‘sold’ through tie-breaks, in which the bidding franchise wrote down a closed bid over and above the $750,000 and handed that over to IPL commissioner Lalit Modi.
Ignoring Pakistani players very shocking: former Foreign Secretaries Sandeep Dikshit
Government says visas were issued to all Pakistani players for the auction
NEW DELHI: While the government distanced itself from the ignoring of Pakistani players in the Indian Premier League (IPL) auction, former Foreign Secretaries criticised the incident as “very shocking” and “unnecessary.”
The government washed its hands off the fiasco saying it had issued visas to all Pakistani players who wanted to be present for the auction and was prepared to issue the necessary entry documents had they been selected. In fact, sources pointed out that there was no red tape in issuing the visas, which were given in three batches in Pakistan, New Zealand and Australia.
One highly placed source felt that commercial and security considerations might have played a role in the franchisees deciding to treat Pakistani players as untouchables.
“Some people want to give the impression that the government was behind this. I have been told that franchisees became cautious after the experience of Australians leaving mid-way in the previous IPL due to international commitments. This time, had the Pakistanis been selected, they would have missed some of the matches. There could also have been some security considerations,” the source said.
The former Foreign Secretary, Muchkund Dubey, however, called the sidelining of the 11 players “totally irrational,” considering Pakistan was the World T20 champion. He said this could not have been done without a nudge or hint from some wing of the government.
“Pakistan is the world champion and plays brilliant cricket. It would be very difficult for team managements not to vie for some of them. It is really shameful if the Board of Control for Cricket in India [BCCI] was behind this. This is against the ethics of sports, against the ethics of managing such things. This is very shocking and short-sighted. Just because our relations are not normal and there is some tension in our ties, this does not mean we should touch such depths,” Mr. Dubey said.
Kanwal Sibal, another former Foreign Secretary, felt that if the incident was related to politics, then it was “unnecessary” because Pakistan was a “very solid” cricketing nation.
“They have excellent cricket players and the selection should have been purely in the realm of sports. The current problem at the political level should not have been a determining factor. This is more so when contacts at the people-to-people level are increasing and Pakistani delegations are meeting their Indian counterparts to improve their relations,” Mr. Sibal said.
He added that if the franchisees decided on their own not to bid for any Pakistani player, they were taking an “exaggerated view” of the degree of public resistance to Pakistani participation in the IPL.
The former External Affairs Minister, K. Natwar Singh, said the option to bid or not to bid was entirely up to the franchisees. “The government has no control. If no one bids for them what can you do? If people are investing so much money they cannot be forced to select a player from this or that nation,” he said.