Pakistan Cricket Board chairman Ehsan Mani speaks during a press conference at The Dubai International Cricket Stadium on September 23, 2018. Image Credit: AFP

Dubai: Ehsan Mani, the new Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chairman, wants politics and politicians not to influence cricket.

Speaking about the chances of revival of India-Pakistan bilateral series, Mani wants cricket boards not to get into politics but focus on playing cricket. “Politics has no role to play in cricket, if politics enters, then cricket will be used as a tool in politics.”

 Any team or India, if they tried to put pressure during my time, I never gave any favours. It’s important to maintain that balance.”

 - Ehsan Mani | Pakistan board chairman

Elaborating on how India and Pakistan should work towards reviving ties, he said: “When politicians talk, we shouldn’t get into it. We should focus on matters concerning the cricket boards. When the Kargil incident happened, even then we didn’t stop dialogues. Every effort was made to renew bilateral ties. I strongly believe politics and politicians shouldn’t influence cricket.”

However, he feels that the legal dispute between India and Pakistan over not playing against each other is nearing it’s conclusion. “There’s a process that has started and it’s in its last stages. All the processes have taken due course, the final statements are due from October 1-3 through the ICC arbitration panel. At this stage, it will be tough to comment. I’ve always been with India or any country for that matter. I used to treat all countries fairly during my time as ICC president.

“Any team or India, if they tried to put pressure during my time, I never gave any favours. It’s important to maintain that balance. I’ve said this earlier, had I been involved when the dispute happened, every effort would have been made to sort it bilaterally. Unfortunately, we are where we are. We have to still progress, but my doors are always open.”

Mani wants all stakeholders to understand the game is bigger than anything. “We all understand whatever has happened in the past has happened; we have to move forward. At the end of the day, the game is bigger than any one person; it’s bigger than the politicians. It reaches out across global spectrum. When India-Pakistan match is played, over a 100 billion people watch the game from around the world. No one cares about the politics. The main thing is to get the cricket going and this is a main thing in that direction. I am very hopeful the boards will work towards it. I am not saying we will get results on day one but we will work towards the common goal. The Board’s endeavour should be for cricket, not anything else.”

To a query whether the legal suit against India may turn out to be counterproductive for PCB, he said: “As I said, this process has already gone beyond resolving it amicably. It’s in the final stages of reaching a conclusion. Both sides have to find a common solution for the future and I’ll explore every possibility for the sake of the game.”

Mani wants board to work together like they did to stage the 2003 India-Pakistan series. “If you remember, in 2002, India and Pakistan were not playing with each other. When I went to India in 2003, the Indian board administrators like Raj Singh Dungarpur, Jagmohan Dalmiya, B.S. Bindra, took me to the ministers to convince them to let cricket resume. I had already sought the permission of the then president Musharraf for speaking with the Indian politicians. But more than me, it was heartening to see my Indian board colleagues were pushing more for the resumption of bilateral cricket.”