While talking to a local media outlet, Shoaib Akhtar claimed that Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has always attempted to initiate a bilateral series against Pakistan but immense pressure from their government has halted their plans.
Following the Pulwama incident, the ties between both nations have continued to deteriorate and reports now suggest that India might not play Pakistan in the upcoming World Cup.
Explaining the entire situation, Akhtar said:
Honest reply, BCCI wants to play with Pakistan, the government says no. Had they played with Pakistan, Star Sports and BCCI would have earned the maximum revenue. The series would have a monetary value of 600 million dollars. Do you think they don’t? Of course, they want that. Now speaking on part of their argument, they want to play with Pakistan. Our Pakistan board had mentioned that they want to play a bilateral series and you cannot deny it although the series can be held at a different venue altogether. But they have said that they have a board to run which falls under Supreme Court. That is their argument and that is logical.
The former Pakistan’s pacer added that Pakistan-India series is extremely valuable from a commercial standpoint and no board can reject such an opportunity irrespective of how much they despise each other.
Should sports stay political? Not at all. So these differences set in matters of circumstances. We strongly condemn the loss of lives. But when it comes to our country, we are one nation, united and we will stand by our Prime Minister’s statement without having a second thought. They (India) have a right to pull out. Their country was attacked and hence the decision.
In addition to talking about the issue, Akhtar lashed out at former Indian cricketers for ‘antagonizing the situation’.
Our forte is to talk about cricket and not about the political scene. When such things happen, try to create bridges as a cricketer. It is very important as players to talk about things that bring about unity rather than antagonizing the situation.