Melbourne, Aug.21 : If the International Cricket Council (ICC) does not move the Champions Trophy from Pakistan, the cricket world as we understand it today, is headed for a major split down the middle.
With Australia and England all but confirming that they will not play the tournament if it is held in Pakistan, and South Africa and New Zealand likely to follow suit, ICC President David Morgan is being roped in from Dubai to take part in a teleconference to discuss the future of the troubled event.
An unconfirmed report in The Times claimed that England expects the Champions Trophy to be moved from Pakistan to Sri Lanka in the next 48 hours.
If it is not, the tournament will simply collapse amid considerable acrimony and recrimination, costing the game tens of millions of dollars from its 1.1 billion Australian dollar broadcast deal with ESPN-Star.
Players' associations of the above four countries have been saying what their boards won't for fear of copping the brunt of multi-million-dollar damages claims from the ICC.
ICC chief executive Haroon Lorgat may be new to the job, but he appears to be showing a worrying lack of leadership.
At a press conference held in London recently, he claimed the tournament would stay in Pakistan despite overwhelming evidence that half the eight competing teams simply won't turn up. West Indies is no guarantee either given their militant players' association.
Lorgat should be taking a pragmatic view to save the tournament and the millions of dollars that go with it, rather than threatening those countries that do not turn up.
There are also Asian fears that moving the Champions Trophy may also set an unwelcome precedent for the 2011 World Cup to be jointly staged by India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.
The crisis has been exacerbated because at last month's ICC hook-up, Asian countries, led by financially all-powerful India, became angry that players from other nations did not want to tour Pakistan and vowed to "show them who's running the game". Sadly that appears to be no one at the moment.
Story first published: Thursday, August 21, 2008, 16:34 [IST]
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