LONDON: After veteran South African cricketer Hershelle Gibbs blew the whistle against the role of Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) to stop him from playing the Kashmir Premier League, English cricketer, Monty Panesar has alleged that he decided to drop out from playing in the KPL at the behest of BCCI.
Addressing a press conference in London, the veteran England spinner revealed that the BCCI passed him threats of visa cancellation through the English Cricket Board (ECB) and the UK’s Professional Cricket Association (PCA).
Mirpur Royals owner Raja Suleman Raza, Monty Panesar said that officials at the English Cricket Board advised him that there would be serious implications of joining the KPL, including the cancellation of visa to India, depriving him of joining the extended family in Indian Punjab.
The veteran England cricketer said that nobody from the BCCI contacted him directly but the ECB and PCA conveyed the threatening message of visa cancellation on behalf of the Indian cricket authorities.
Monty Panesar said that he was thrilled to learn that he had been selected in the draft and “looked forward to playing cricket in Kashmir but he had to make a decision after being advised of the consequences.” He said, “I was hoping to play but then I decided to drop out. The consequences are that my grandparents are aged and they live in India.
My grandmother is blind and my grandfather is over 90 years old. They (the ECB and the PCA) said you will not get your India visa and you cannot visit family and friends. My family comes first. I had to put my cricketing ambitions to the side and excuse myself.”
The cricketer added that the decision to drop out was his own as he was not forced to make the decision but he was emotionally blackmailed. Monty said that he was not aware of what exact conversation took place between the BCCI and ECB but he was sure that the ECB advised him only after the BCCI issued a warning to the UK based players through the ECB.
The veteran England spinner said several international players would be taking part in the KPL because they do not have family in India and they are not bothered about the Indian visas. However, his case was totally different and he hoped that his fans would understand his decision.
“The cost of me joining the KPL would have been huge as India would have cancelled my visa and I would be unable to meet my family. My heritage is in India and I have strong family roots there. The decision was between playing in Azad Kashmir and being able to visit India. I chose the best option for myself to stay out of trouble in future,” Monty added.
The Mirpur Royals owner, Raja Suleman Raza, regretted that the BCCI had politicised the game of cricket and wasted a huge opportunity to engage with Kashmiris through cricket. He said that the people wanted to enjoy the game but the Indian government deprived them by taking an unfortunate hostile line.
Raja Suleman Raza said Monty Panesar’s story vindicated that India used threats and resorted to blackmailing to stop players from taking part in the KPL. “The KPL will go ahead at all costs. This year and forever. We have made a commitment that we will promote sports in Kashmir to open the windows of opportunities for the youth of Kashmir and we will stay true to that,” he added.