Pakistan tour is just a goodwill tour, says Kamal
Under fire Bangladesh Cricket Board president AHM Mustafa Kamal defended his decision of sending the national team to Pakistan and denied that the decision has any link with his candidature for the vice-president post of the International Cricket Council. Kamal spoke exclusively with New Age’s Atif Azam at his home on Tuesday after his return from Dubai, where he attended ICC’s executive board meeting. Here are the excerpts:
Q: Most of the directors of the Bangladesh Cricket Board were surprised with the decision of Bangladesh tour to Pakistan as they were not informed about it earlier. Was it that because you did not have the confidence on them or you felt that they might oppose the idea of going?
Mustafa Kamal: It is right that I did not inform them about the tour, but that is not because I don’t have any trust on them. On the contrary I can say that I have total faith that I can convince them about the tour. If I had informed them earlier than it would have reached the media and it would have seemed that we have already agreed to tour that country. But I wanted the ICC to get involved in the matter. In that case the members of the ICC would have said that we had agreed to tour that country. But after ICC got involved and promised to maintain a standard rule if everything is alright in Pakistan and I said that in that case we would go and this is what I am saying from the very beginning. I have full confidence that our board directors would not disapprove the tour if ICC is satisfied with Pakistan’s security and that is why I did not say anything earlier.
Q: It seemed that you took the decision unanimously. Did you get the permission from the government as this is a very sensitive issue?
Mustafa Kamal: I got the green signal from the government the moment I became the president of the BCB as to take decisions that will help to develop the cricket of the country. The government normally does not interfere in our activities.
Q: But the prime minister got involved regarding the Akram Khan issue when he submitted the resignation from the post of chief selector. In such case how can you say that the government does not get involved in cricket?
Mustafa Kamal: Regarding the Akram Khan matter the PM wanted to talk with me first, but because I was not available she called Akram and more so because during that time a home series was taking place. Being an ardent cricket lover she can always do that and I think she took the right decision. The ICC does not want government interference so to say that our government is interfering in our cricket will only give them a bad impression about our own selves.
Q: Why do you think that this tour is very important?
Mustafa Kamal: This tour is essential for both the country. From Pakistan’s point of view it will help them bring back cricket in their country and from our point of view we can have the players of their country in our domestic competition which will help our cricketers to improve their game. As far as I know it would be difficult to bring players from other countries in our domestic competition because it won’t be cost effective. So it is important that we tour because ultimately we can have a good relationship with them that will help to get their players in our domestic competition. Apart from that being the Asian Cricket Council president I have some responsibility towards the cricketing nations in the sub continent.
Q: But why are we taking the responsibility of bringing cricket back in their country?
Mustafa Kamal: It’s not that we are taking the responsibility. It’s just that someone will have to take the initiative and we are the one to do so if everything is fine with the ICC. Nothing will happen unless we are convinced that they have a full security that satisfies the ICC. Even some overseas coaches are staying there so to say that playing cricket there is not possible is not true. In the ICC meeting I took up the agenda and after the insistence from all other boards I agreed to tour Pakistan as it will have a global impact. I am sure that if this tour can proceed then the name of Bangladesh will be written in golden letters in the cricket history of the world.
Q: It is being said that this tour is proceeding because of your personal gain to be the vice-president of the ICC?
Mustafa Kamal: My only gain is that it will help Bangladesh cricket. And I can assure you not for once there was a deal made that I will become the vice president and for that Bangladesh will tour Pakistan. In that case if any such thing happens and is leaked out then that would be disgraceful for both the boards.
Q: What would be the benefit of such a short tour?
Mustafa Kamal: It’s not for any benefit. It is a goodwill tour. This will help them to bring back cricket in their
region. If there is a security problem then we are not going because first ICC will have to be convinced that it is a safe place. Because of time constraint the tour is short.
Q: The overseas coaches are not willing to go. What do you have to say regarding this?
Mustafa Kamal: As far as I know I think the coaches will go. There is Dav Whatmore and Julian Fountain and if that is not a safe place then how are they staying over there. So it will not be an issue to convince them.
Q: Have you talked with the players’ regarding the tour?
Mustafa Kamal: I have talked with the players and they have assured me that they will go provided it is being cleared by ICC.
Q: Even if Bangladesh goes the next series of Pakistan is in Sri Lanka as Australia is not coming there. So how does it become right that Bangladesh’s tour will bring international cricket in Pakistan?
Mustafa Kamal: The landscape of Pakistan cricket will change with this tour and I am sure other countries will follow us soon.
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