India and Pakistan were about to speak, but then not, so it is appropriate that this week the cricket boards of both countries face Dubai to try to resolve a long and thorny dispute. The arbitrator, for three days, will be the Dispute Resolution Committee of the ICC. The dispute is about an agreement signed in April 2014 to play bilateral games, an agreement that has not been honored and shows no signs of being so. The PCB eventually filed a notice of dispute with the ICC last November claiming damages from the BCCI.
This is what you need to know about what is about to happen.
The background story first
In 2014, the PCB offered conditional support for the renewal of the Big Three of the ICC. According to the agreement, which according to the PCB is binding, it was assumed that Pakistan would play six bilateral series as part of the eight-year Future Tours (FTP) Program cycle between 2015 and 2023. Four of those series would be organized by Pakistan, which would comprise 24 matches in three formats; and the six tours would include up to 14 Tests, 30 ODI and 12 T20I.
The two sides have not played a full bilateral tour since Pakistan's last visit to India in 2007. One year later, after the terrorist attacks in Mumbai, ties tightened. Pakistan toured India for a limited limited series at the end of 2012, although both countries regularly play at ICC events and met twice in the recent Asian Cup.
They have an agreement that you say. Then, why not play?
According to the PCB, it is only because the BCCI has not been sufficiently independent of its government's position of not having ties with Pakistan.
And the BCCI says what?
They have kept each meeting with PCB that has no authority to allow India to play Pakistan in a bilateral series. That decision only depends on the Indian government. The PCB does not agree, insisting that the BCCI has lacked the will to convince the Indian government. PCB officials argue that if India is allowed to play against Pakistan in neutral places in world tournaments, why not bilateral series?
I guess the ICC has done it …
The ICC has maintained a neutrality studied everywhere, except in one instance. Last year, the president of the ICC, Shashank Manohar, advised the PCB against legal recourse. It is said that Manohar told the PCB that he would ruin relations with the BCCI "for life" if he pressed legal proceedings against the BCCI.
Manohar essentially seconded the BCCI line, saying that India could only play with Pakistan bilaterally subject to permission from the Indian government. The PCB left that meeting in London, feeling that Manohar was "advocating" for the BCCI case and not acting in a neutral manner.
Which, presumably, left the PCB with no choice but to address the ICC's panel of disputes?
The PCB considered that the BCCI should not have signed the letter of intent as part of the MoU if it did not have the permission of its government. Having failed to obtain a positive and concrete response from the BCCI, the PCB finally sent a notice of dispute to the BCCI last May.
The PCB has claimed losses of up to USD 70 million for the failure of the BCCI to play two series, in November 2014 and December 2015. The PCB used the perspective of these series to sell their media rights and in their absence , the board claims to have suffered these commercial losses.
In addition, the PCB had several meetings in good faith as prescribed under the ICC rules. However, those meetings did not lead anywhere, forcing the PCB to adopt this last course of action: the dispute resolution committee. Accordingly, the PCB sent a notice of dispute to the ICC last November, which will now be heard by an independent committee.
What lucky souls listen to this case?
The Panel of Controversies consists of three members: Michael Beloff, president of the panel, who had previously been part of the ICC tribunal that had banned Salman Butt, Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Amir for their roles in the settlement scandal of spotlights, along with Jan Paulsson and Dr. Annabelle Bennett.
Will the decision of the dispute panel be final?
Yes, the decision, the ICC has indicated, will be "not appealable".