Ex-Indian cricketers differ on banning Pakistan players from IPL

January 30th, 2009 - 4:33 pm ICT by IANS  

Kolkata, Jan 30 (IANS) Even as five Pakistani cricketers are slated to go on auction for the second edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL), former India cricketers say that it is for the government to take the call on their participation in the cash-rich Twenty20 tournament. Asim Kamal, Yasir Hameed, Danish Kaneria, Mohammed Hafeez and Yasir Arafat will go under the hammer at the Feb 10 auction in Goa at a time when New Delhi is going hammer and tongs at the Pakistan government post Mumbai terror strikes.

Most players IANS spoke to left it to the government to take the call. However, former India captain Gundappa Viswanath is forthright in asking how could the Pakistani players come here when all other sporting exchanges were in a limbo.

“I feel sport is sport. And as a cricketer, I want everybody to participate. But my logic is, when you are not allowing Pak-India cricket tours, when you are not encouraging participation of Pakistan players in any sport in India, then I am not sure how proper it will be to let them play in the IPL,” Viswanath said.

The celebrated former batsman, known for his wristy strokeplay, said: “We should wait for normalcy to return in Indo-Pak relations before allowing them to play in the IPL.”

Viswanath’s Karnataka team-mate, spin magician Erapalli Prasanna, sharply differed with him.

“There should not be any ban. Be it the IPL or the Indian Cricket League (ICL), everybody should be allowed to play,” said the legendary tweaker, who is now associated with the rebel ICL.

“Terror strike is a different issue. Why should cricketers be punished for that? If playing cricket is the only objective, then why should there be a ban?” asked Prasanna, an important part of the famed Indian spin quartet in the 1960s and 1970s.

Prasanna, however, acknowledged that the Indian government was the most competent authority to decide on the politically sensitive matter. “But from a purely cricketing point of view, I think there should not be any bar on anybody,” said the 68-year-old, who captured 189 wickets in 49 Tests.

Abbas Ali Baig, who struck a hundred on his India debut in 1959, was evasive when contacted by IANS.

“I think each county has its own stipulations, own stand. I am not sure about IPL rules.

“It is IPL’s decision whether it will allow Pak players to participate. It’s also up to the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), which needs to coordinate with the government on the issue,” Baig said.

Former India stumper Kiran More felt it was the government’s call. “It’s entirely upto the government, and the question should be popped to the government”.

Two other spin greats Bishan Singh Bedi and Anil Kumble - both former captains - refused to comment on the issue.

A host of Pakistan cricketers played in the maiden edition of the IPL last year, but the Mumbai terror strikes have put a question mark over their participation in the upcoming second leg.

It may be recalled that post Mumbai, Pakistan refused to clear their squash team’s tour to India for the Asian Junior Championship in Chennai citing security concerns and India called off the hockey team’s Test series across the border.

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