Emirates Cricket Board demand ICC action on visa issue

The Emirates Cricket Board (ECB) has officially lodged a protest to the International Cricket Council (ICC) following the refusal of the Canadian Embassy to grant visas to two of its players recently.

Two players from the first-choice UAE team were denied visas by the Canadian Embassy in Abu Dhabi last month, stopping them from taking part in the ICC Trophy cricket tournament held in Toronto between June 27-July 15.

Holland, Namibia and hosts Canada ended in the top three places during the tournament, thus booking their places for the 2003 World Cup to be held in South Africa.

UAE finished in fifth place behind Scotland, who went down in the World Cup qualifying match to the hosts a day after Holland had secured an exciting title win against giant-killers Namibia.

"It was a question of one match," stated Mazhar Khan, ECB administrator.

"If we had all our players, we could have won against Namibia or Canada and we would have been in the World Cup," Khan added.

In a strongly-worded letter to the ICC which was sent to the ICC on Sunday, Khan has made a forceful argument in favour of declaring the ICC matches void due to the visa hassles faced by the UAE team. "During the Associate members meeting and the annual conference in London on June 19, the matter was raised by West Africa, Nepal, Uganda and UAE on the visa subject, whereby an assurance was given by the organisers of the event -- the Canadian Cricket Council -- and the ICC Trophy event manager that visas for all players will be sorted out," Khan pointed out.

"Earlier, the matter was raised before ICC president Malcolm Gray during his visit to the UAE on June 12-13 and ICC chief executive David Richards was also aware of the problems faced by some of the teams," the ECB administrator added further.

In his letter to the ICC, Khan has made a strong case for calling the ICC Trophy matches as null and void. "Our boys were sitting here in UAE for two weeks, when they were actually supposed to be in England for a series of seven practice matches to prepare for the tournament," Khan said.

"The non-granting of visas put our entire schedule off balance and the team suffered in the long run."

In the letter, the ECB has strongly argued that the host country was solely responsible for UAE's failed bid to make it to a second World Cup. "It was unfair to judge a team and its performance while two of their top players were unable to participate due to the strange visa rules of a country. This violates the commitment made by the host nation to ensure a smooth culmination of the event," Khan charged.

Making a case in point, Khan said: "Imagine the 2003 World Cup taking place without Sachin Tendulkar or Rahul Dravid or the Waugh brothers or Brian Lara or Michael Atherton because of non-granting of visas by the South African authorities."

Given this background, Khan has demanded that all matches involving the UAE team should be re-played along with other countries like Nepal, West Africa and Uganda. "The pain and mental stress the players and the management went through to get the visas sorted out for over four weeks should be taken up seriously by the ICC," Khan has demanded in his letter.

"There has to be some sort of reaction from the ICC and we will be eagerly awaiting for an answer from them."

Tuesday, July 24, 2001.Source Gulf Today

ICC Trophy Canada 2001