The Pakistan Cricket Board has taken “strong notice” of India’s use of army camouflage caps during their third ODI against Australia in Ranchi, urging the ICC to take action against the BCCI.
MS Dhoni, who is an honorary lieutenant colonel in the Indian territorial army, was seen distributing army caps to the team before the toss. ESPNcricinfo understands that the move was initiated in the aftermath of a terror attack in Pulwama last month. The BCCI had approached the ICC before going ahead with the plan, and the ICC confirmed that permission was granted as part of a charity fundraising effort.
“We have strongly taken up the matter with the ICC,” PCB chairman Ehsan Mani told reporters in Karachi. “There is absolutely no misunderstanding in the ICC about our position. We believe that cricket and sports should not be used for politics and we have said this very clearly. Their [India] credibility in the cricketing world has gone down very badly.”
India’s captain Virat Kohli had explained that donning the caps were meant to encourage countrymen to donate to the National Defence Fund to help with the education of the martyrs’ dependents.
“This is to pay respect to the martyrs of the Pulwama attack and their families,” Kohli said. “All the players have decided to donate their match fees from this particular game to the National Defence Fund. I, as the captain of the team, would urge everyone in the country to do the same, donate how much ever they can to the National Defence Fund and help in the education and well-being of the families and the children of those who lost their lives in the attack. So this is a very special cap and a very special game indeed.”
Mani, however, insisted that ICC should take “strong action” against India, especially as there was already precedent for the same.
Moeen Ali, the England allrounder, was banned in 2014 for wearing wristbands bearing the slogans “Save Gaza” and “Free Palestine” on the first two days of the third Test against India at The Ageas Bowl. While the ECB had defended Moeen’s stance, describing his actions as humanitarian rather than political, the match referee David Boon reminded Moeen of the ICC’s clothing and equipment regulations.
Similarly, South African legspinner Imran Tahir was reprimanded by the ICC for his celebrations against Sri Lanka during a T20I. After dismissing Asela Gunaratne, Tahir went off on one of his usual celebratory runs before taking of his playing kit and revealing a t-shirt with an image of the late Junaid Jamshed, a Pakistani pop icon and latterly religious preacher who died in a plane crash.
“You have two examples from the past already, where both Imran Tahir and Moeen Ali were sanctioned for something similar,” Mani said. “The ICC had taken strong action against them and we have sought similar action against India. The permission they took was for a different purpose but they acted differently.
“We have been in touch with ICC from day one, sent one letter already and another is being followed up in next 12 hours. There should not be any ambiguity as we are taking this very strongly. We don’t do politics or neither we do we use cricket for politics.”
Ties between the two boards have deteriorated sharply in the aftermath of the Pulwama attack. The BCCI initially wanted to ban Pakistan from the World Cup this summer, before deciding to tone that down by asking the ICC to sever ties with nations that harbored ties with terrorists.
BCCI officials did not bring up the request at a recent ICC board meeting but it was brought up – and turned down – by the ICC head Shashank Manohar.
Umar Farooq is ESPNcricinfo’s Pakistan correspondent
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