Pakistan’s cricketer-convert-commentator Ramiz Raja believes the International Cricket Council (ICC) has sent a wrong message to the world by withdrawing Pakistani umpire Aleem Dar from the India-South Africa series after Shiv Sena’s violent protests.
The ICC withdrew Aleem from officiating in the fourth and fifth ODI after Hindu right-wing party barged into Board of Control for Cricket in India president Shashank Manohar’s office on Monday demanding the cancellation of talks with visiting Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chairman Shahryar Khan.
“I don’t know what sort of message the ICC wanted to convey to everyone by doing this. I would have thought that they should have simply asked the Indian cricket authorities to ensure the safety and security of Aleem in India,” said Ramiz, quoted by Indian newspaper.
Former opening batsman said that ICC, in an attempt to take the easy way out, did what was not expected of it.
“I think the ICC took the easy way out. But it is the responsibility of the ICC to ensure the safety and security of all match officials on duty in any series,” he said.
Ramiz, who frequently visits India to commentate in matches, added that Aleem should have been allowed to stay in India to officiate in the remaining matches.
He further praised PCB’s stance that cricket and sports should be kept separate and the December series should be held as scheduled.
“The PCB has [done right ] in these circumstances. But I can tell you it is a handful of people not wanting Pakistan and India to play each other, which is very unfortunate,” said Ramiz.
Pakistan’s former ICC elite panel umpire Asad Rauf said that the world body’s call to withdraw Aleem must have been directed by a serious threat to his security.
“The ICC must have serious concerns for Aleem’s safety that is why they called him back or else they would not have done this,” he said.
Asad, who has experienced India while umpiring for ICC and in the IPL, said whatever happened in India with Shahryar after Shiv Sena’s protest was sad.
“It is disappointing because I know majority of Indians welcome Pakistani players, umpires and commentators. But now what is happening is bad for cricket and for Indian cricket. Aleem’s withdrawal could put the World T20 in India in jeopardy.”