Security threat and pay dispute hit World T20
By Nick Hoult
THE World Twenty20 to be held in India next month is mired in rows over venues, terrorism threats to the Pakistan team and another pay dispute involving the West Indies. Tickets are also yet to go on sale for a tournament to be played at seven venues across India and due to start on March 8, ruining the plans of English supporters hoping to make the trip to support Eoin Morgan’s team. Four men’s and six women’s matches are due to be held in Delhi, as well as two semi-finals, but could be shifted to a new venue just weeks before the tournament starts because the city council has refused to sign off safety certificates for the ageing Feroz Shah Kotla Stadium. The row reached the Delhi High Court last week when the Delhi District Cricket Association was given a 20-day deadline to complete work. If the deadline is not met, the games will be moved. It would be a major embarrassment for the organisers if India’s capital was stripped of matches in what will probably be the most watched tournament ever played in the country. The problem has delayed the sale of tickets. Pakistan are in limbo over whether they will be allowed to travel to India. The Pakistan government is refusing to give security clearance due to terrorism threats. Shaharyar Khan, the Pakistan Cricket Board chairman, has said that if the government prevents the team from travelling, they will ask the International Cricket Council if they can play their games at a neutral venue. “We have told the ICC the decision is with the government and it’s not just us who have to decide,” Khan said. “We need to understand that there are specific Pakistanoriented security threats and we are concerned, hence we have involved the government.” Pakistan have faced threats from the Hindu nationalist party Shiv Sena in the past but they have largely played matches in Mumbai. Talks between the PCB and the Board of Control for Cricket in India over a bilateral tour were abandoned in December when Shiv Sena activists stormed the cricket board’s office in Mumbai. None of Pakistan’s matches at the World T20 will be played in Mumbai, but they are due to meet India in a group game in the Himalayan town of Dharamsala on March 19. For the West Indies, their participation is again under a cloud due to yet another dispute with their board over money. A second-string team could be sent unless the players sign their contracts. “The difference between the remuneration on offer from previous World Cups to this one is shocking and we cannot accept the terms on offer,” Darren Sammy, the West Indies Twenty20 captain, said. The West Indies Cricket Board has said that players who do not sign the contracts will be presumed to have withdrawn from selection.