Security threats, pay dispute hit cricket World Twenty20 tournament

The World Twenty20 to be held in India next month is mired in rows over venues, terrorism threats towards the Pakistan team which could prevent them taking part, and yet 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.

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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 local city council has refused to sign off safety certificates for the ageing Feroz Shah Kotla Stadium.

The row reached the Delhi High Court this week with the Delhi District Cricket Association granted a 20-day deadline to complete the work or the games will be moved, warning that they cannot be played in "unsafe circumstances".

Chris Gayle with the trophy after the West Indies won the 2012 World Twenty20. Next month's tournament has been beset by ...
Chris Gayle with the trophy after the West Indies won the 2012 World Twenty20. Next month's tournament has been beset by problems. Photo: Getty Images

It would be a major embarrassment for the organisers if India's capital city is stripped of matches in what will probably be the most watched tournament ever played in the country.

The problem with Delhi has delayed the sale of tickets. Last week the Board of Control for Cricket in India said that tickets would go on sale on Tuesday this week but it has now been put back to "Feb 13 or 14".


Pakistan have announced their squad but 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 against the team.

Shaharyar Khan, the Pakistan Cricket Board chairman, has said that if the government prevents the team from travelling to India they will ask the International Cricket Council if they can play their games at a neutral venue, again throwing the tournament into chaos.

"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 Pakistan-oriented security threats and we are concerned, hence [we have] involved the government. These are not general threats, like Australia had in Bangladesh and they did not send their team for the Under-19 World Cup.

"We didn't say or propose playing the World T20 matches at a neutral venue but someone at the ICC meeting said that if there are concerns over any extremist activity then neutral venues will be looked into. Since it's an ICC event and not a bilateral series we have to play it but if the decision is negative then maybe the ICC could say that our matches be held in neutral venues in Sri Lanka or United Arab Emirates, and we will be ready for that."

Pakistan have faced threats from the Hindu nationalist party Shiv Sena in the past but they have largely been over playing matches in Mumbai. Talks between the PCB and the BCCI over a bilateral tour were abandoned in December when Shiv Sena activists stormed the cricket board's office in Mumbai.

A few days later the ICC withdrew umpire Aleem Dar from a Test between India and South Africa in Mumbai and Wasim Akram, who was commentating on the series, also had to pull out.

None of Pakistan's matches at the World Twenty20 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 cricket board over money. A second-string team could be sent unless the players sign their tournament contracts by February 14.

"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 team captain, said.

"To now be offered just $6900 per match across the board irrespective of experience is totally unacceptable. Players are being asked to start providing services from nearly four weeks ahead of the World Cup and be guaranteed just $27,600 if they play all the guaranteed matches. It is a staggering reduction. We are looking, even on 2012 figures, at reductions of between 50-80 per cent.

"We suggest that 100 per cent of prize money needs to be paid to the players as per previous tournaments [and] that the match fees be doubled from $6900.

"In summary, we cannot accept the terms on offer. The players are not happy and understandably so with such big differences."

The West Indies Cricket Board has said that players who do not sign the contracts will be presumed to have withdrawn from selection.

Telegraph, London