Maroof called the decision “deeply disappointing”, remarking it was “good luck” for India to have effectively been awarded points for nothing. The ICC decision means Pakistan miss out on automatic qualification for the 2021 Women’s World Cup, while India go through directly. Had the ICC decided to award full points to Pakistan, as they did in a similar scenario in 2016, it would have been Pakistan who went through, while India would have had to try to go through the qualifying route.
“The decision was very disappointing, because we had been waiting [for] a long time to play against India and the board was working towards it,” Maroof said in a video press conference. “But we weren’t getting any response from India. It’s good luck for India, who got points without agreeing to play any matches. I suppose if we look at it in a positive light, we’ll get a few extra competitive matches having to play the qualifying rounds.
“There’s always hype when we’re due to play India and the fans want to see those matches because they’re usually very exciting. Pakistan showed a willingness to play against India, and Pakistan have kept sport away from politics. So it was very disappointing for us not to get these matches, and we were number four, in a position to qualify directly, before the matches were due to go ahead. If we had lost those matches and then had to qualify, that would have been easy to accept. But as things stand, those matches will have been missed by all cricket fans, not just Pakistan fans.”
The ICC decision, which came a fortnight ago, has caused significant malcontent at the PCB. The chairman Ehsan Mani went public in expressing his own disappointment with the ICC, while the PCB was swift to get in touch with cricket’s governing body to explore what further steps it could take.
The dissatisfaction, however, has not spilled over into any public censure of the ICC; Mani’s statement aside, there has been virtually total silence from within the PCB by way of any further official communication. ESPNcricinfo understands the reason for this is the PCB’s legal team considering bringing litigation to the ICC’s dispute resolution committee. Maroof confirmed that should the legal team believe there were grounds to proceed in this manner, she would get behind it.
“The PCB’s legal team is reviewing the decision as things stand. If they think there are grounds for a legal case, we should definitely proceed with one. It was very disappointing, and politics and sport should be kept separate,” she said.
The PCB had attempted to engage with their Indian counterparts about the series on the sidelines of the last couple of ICC meetings, a series they viewed as a bilateral issue rather than one that needed ICC engagement. It appears they did not receive a meaningful response from the BCCI, either in writing or verbally.
In 2016, the ICC decided to give Pakistan full points when India failed to show up for a series, but there is one difference that looks to have secured a more desirable outcome for the BCCI. On that occasion, the BCCI offered no written explanation for the failure to proceed with the series, and the technical investigation committee found the BCCI had not been able to establish “acceptable reasons” for non-participation in the series.
This time around, the BCCI engaged with the ICC early on, making its stand clear about why it could not play Pakistan in the ODI series scheduled in 2019. ESPNcricinfo understands the BCCI made extensive submissions as early as 2018, demonstrating that it could not get the relevant permission from the Indian government to play Pakistan. That helped the ICC’s technical committee to invoke the force majeure clause on this occasion.
“With respect to the India v Pakistan series, the TC (technical committee) concluded that the series could not be played because of a Force Majeure event after the BCCI demonstrated that it was unable to obtain the necessary government clearances to allow India to participate in the bilateral series against Pakistan, which forms a part of the ICC Women’s Championship,” the ICC said in a media release on April 15.
Meanwhile, Maroof paid a glowing tribute to her former teammate and former Pakistan captain Sana Mir, who announced her retirement earlier this week, saying women’s cricket’s reputation and profile in Pakistan owed plenty to Mir.
“Sana Mir is a legend of the game and an ambassador of Pakistan cricket. She was one of the great minds we all played under. We all grew under her, and the credit goes to her. The name women’s cricket has here exists in a large part because of Sana’s involvement with it. She has achieved a huge amount for Pakistan cricket, and she deserves all the praise she has received over the last few days. She is a true ambassador for women’s cricket around the world and I wish her good luck in whatever she wants to do next.”
Danyal Rasool is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo. @Danny61000
ESPN Sports Media Ltd.