It's mutual – if they don't come, we won't go, says PCB chief

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The Independent Online

The chairman of the Pakistan Cricket Board, Ijaz Butt, has warned that world cricket could face a damaging schism as a result of terrorism and other security threats after the last two matches of England's one-day international series in India were abandoned in the wake of the terror attacks in Mumbai with the tour party returning home yesterday.

"If certain countries play separately with two sets of rules, it will be a dangerous situation," he said. "It's a mutual thing. If they don't come, we won't go. You cannot have separate pockets with England only playing Australia.

"We have to agree something. It has to be with all Test countries. You can't have four Test countries playing each other and the other four playing separately as well.

"We have to agree to something, and offshore cricket is not the onlyanswer," he added. Pakistan had played three one-day internationals against West Indies on neutral ground in Abu Dhabi two weeks ago.

"To continue to not participate in cricket in this part of the world and in India and Sri Lanka, then it will be very difficult," warned the former Pakistan wicketkeeper, who was appointed to head the board in October following the resignation of Nasim Ashraf.

"There'll be two sets of rules, two sets of countries and two blocks in the ICC, which would be a dangerous thing to happen."

Pakistan have had to deal with sides refusing to play there because of security threats, and the Champions Trophy, which was due to be played there in September, was postponed.

Earlier this year, Australia refused to tour Pakistan in the wake of the political unrest which saw former prime minister Benazir Bhutto assassinated. The Pakistan Test side have not played since December 2007 and it had been hoped that India would visit in January, though that series is also unlikely to take place.

The former Australian captain Steve Waugh also believes the state of the game is precarious. "The danger to cricket is that the game needs India and any long-term interruption will have major ramifications," he said.

"At present we have Pakistan cricket crippled by the threat of terrorism, Sri Lanka regularly blighted by a civil war and Zimbabwe mismanaged by corrupt administrators and government.

"The game is on the verge of a crisis and clear, concise thinking will be required from the various cricketing bodies to make sure that thecorrect decisions are made."

Waugh, though, was hopeful that the sport could bounce back in India, despite the recent postponements. "My gut feeling is that cricket will see an interruption in the short term but business will resume as normal shortly afterwards," he said.

"The game of cricket in India is a way of life and a symbol of hope and, as such, it has the ability to restore faith and instil confidence."