KARACHI - Former Pakistan great Wasim Akram Friday warned cricket administrators that the game could not afford a damaging split, as they prepare to debate controversial plans to reform the governing body. The International Cricket Council (ICC) will meet in Singapore on Saturday to discuss and possibly vote on a plan to give the sport's most financially powerful nations -- India, England and Australia -- a greater say in running the world game
South Africa, Pakistan and Sri Lanka have strongly opposed the idea and Akram, Pakistan's all time leading Test wicket-taker with 414, urged the administrators to work for the unity of the game. "Our cricket world is very small and we cannot afford divisions," he told AFP. "I have read the draft and if there are any reservations from a few countries I would like that to be removed and no country should be left isolated."
Legendary Pakistani all-rounder Imran Khan has described the proposals as a return to the days of colonialism and the Pakistan Cricket Board has slammed them as unjust. Akram said national boards should not be victimised for standing up for their rights at the ICC. "What I am hearing is that Pakistan and South Africa will be targeted if they don't sign, no one wants such a thing to happen because both these countries are important to world cricket," he said.
Akram urged the Indian board, which produces 80 percent of world cricket's wealth, to act as the responsible older brother. "India is the bigger board in terms of generating the revenues and everybody will listen to India if they act like a big brother and I am sure senses will prevail in the Singapore meeting," he said. Akram said Pakistan, currently on the hunt for a new coach after Dav Whatmore's departure, must raise their game on the field to be taken seriously off it.
"It's very important because if Pakistan is amongst the top teams, every other country will like to play them and in turns Pakistan's voice will be heard at all forums," said Akram, who played 104 Tests and 356 one-day internationals for Pakistan.