India-led cartel would destroy cricket: Mani advises ICC
CHI (AFP) - A Pakistani former head of cricket's international governing body on Friday accused India of exploiting its financial clout by trying to form a cartel of top nations.
Former International Cricket Council (ICC) president Ehsan Mani warned against attempts to create a divide in international cricket by allowing a top tier with Australia, England, India and South Africa.
"It may not be deliberate but Australia, England and South Africa want to benefit financially by playing India more and more, which would squeeze out countries like Pakistan from international cricket," Mani told AFP.
The ICC was last week due to finalise a Future Tour Programme (FTP), a six-year scheduling of countries playing home and away cricket, but deferred after Pakistan complained of being given less cricket.The first FTP, which runs out in 2012, was signed by all 10 Test playing countries in 2006.
A senior official from the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) said Thursday the PCB had raised serious concerns over attempts to marginalise Pakistan.
"We have raised our concerns that there were attempts to marginalise us in the FTP and the ICC has assured us that our concerns will be addressed," chief operating officer Salim Altaf told AFP.
Mani said it was up to the ICC, not the four countries, to finalise the FTP.
"I think ICC is not doing much and is not reactive to pressures. It really bothers me," said Mani, who was ICC president from 2003 to 2006 and who spoke to AFP in English.
Mani said India had not scheduled any series with Pakistan in the second FTP.
"PCB has a strong stance on why India is not giving Pakistan any series in the FTP post-2012 and India is giving a blatant message that they just want to play top countries who for self-interests (are) fulfilling what India asks.
"Pakistan should refuse to sign the FTP because it is a programme aimed at giving all countries home and away cricket with all other countries at least once in six years."
Mani again accused India, an arch rival of his home country Pakistan, of being behind an ICC decision that stripped Pakistan of its share of World Cup 2011 matches over security fears.
"The whole issue of Pakistan stripped of World Cup matches was due to India," said Mani. The matches will now be held in co-hosts India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.The ICC said last month Pakistan's matches would be shared by the other co-hosts - prompting the PCB to initiate a court appeal.
"I am afraid Pakistan will have to improve its relationship with other countries as well and needs to do a lot of lobbying," said Mani.
"Pakistan had fulfilled what Australia had demanded on security and played their home series on neutral grounds," said Mani of two series played on neutral grounds in 2002 and 2009 over Australian fears about security.
"Now Pakistan (touring Australia next year) should also ask Australia to provide top-level security because a lot of students have been killed in Melbourne recently."