Former Pakistan speedster Shoaib Akhtar has stated that the resumption of cricketing ties between the two South Asian arch-rivals – India and Pakistan have been hampered by the bitter politicians of both the countries.
India and Pakistan have not faced each other in a full bilateral series since 2007 and considering the current hostility in diplomatic ties, the bilateral series seems a distant dream right now.
“It is terribly sad that cricketers from either side of the border are not often getting to experience the Indo-Pak rivalry. Along with the Ashes, it is the biggest series in the game,” Akhtar was quoted by PTI as saying.
“The cricketers are not getting a chance to become overnight heroes for their respective countries. Pakistan cricketers are adored in India, I myself have got so much love from India.
“I really wanted the current Pakistani crop to experience the same kind of love we received in India back in the day and showcase their talent,” he further added.
Playing Pakistan has always been a dilemma for the BCCI. Earlier last year, the cricket board had sought clearance from the Indian government to play a bilateral series with the arch-rivals. Amid all the tussle between both the countries at the LOC, the request was expectedly turned down by the BJP ruled Indian government.
It is pertinent to mention that both the boards had signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in 2014, as per which the arch-rivals should have played six bilateral series between 2015-2023.
Akhtar refused to blame on any one of the stakeholders for the never-ending wait in cricketing ties. The 42-year-old said it is imperative to improve things at the diplomatic level first.
“I feel bilateral series won’t happen until bilateral talks resume between the two countries. And in the current scenario, one doesn’t know if cricket diplomacy will work or not,” Shoaib opined.
“It is a bit strange and sad that it will be decided at the diplomatic level when it is often said the sports should be left aside from politics,” he elaborated.
Fondly known as ‘Rawalpindi Express’, Akhtar further said that the cricket boards of both the countries shouldn’t be blamed for the current state of affairs.
“Having said that, it is not anyone’s fault (the BCCI or PCB). Both boards want the series to take place. It is in their interest if the series happens,” concluded Shoaib Akhtar.