The abrupt cancellation of their tour to Pakistan by the New Zealand cricket team is shocking as well as financially debilitating. The government of Pakistan and all concerned authorities had...
The abrupt cancellation of their tour to Pakistan by the New Zealand cricket team is shocking as well as financially debilitating. The government of Pakistan and all concerned authorities had assured the guests that foolproof security arrangements were in place and there was no need to feel scared regarding the security situation in the country. Notwithstanding all assurances by their hosts, the New Zealand authorities informed Pakistan just a couple of hours before the start of the scheduled ODI in Rawalpindi that they would prefer to cancel the trip and go back – citing security threats in Pakistan. The teams were about to begin the first of three ODIs on Sep 17, 2021. As a result, the Pakistan Cricket Board is likely to suffer financial losses and a tremendous blow to its reputation in the world of cricket. Before calling off their tour the New Zealand authorities should have discussed their concerns with their hosts; or at the most they could have canceled the first match and allowed their hosts to present enhanced security plans for the remaining matches.
This is a serious blow to the efforts that the government and the Pakistan Cricket Board had made to fully restore international cricket in Pakistan. In addition to the three ODIs the guest team was to play five Twenty20 Internationals in Lahore. Now it appears that even if Pakistan raises this issue at the International Cricket Council (ICC) it would not be of much help. In the past too, the ICC has been reluctant to take any actions in such matters. Even if the PCB wins any case of compensation against New Zealand – which seems to be a far cry – the loss of confidence and reputation of Pakistan as a secure country will take a long time to restore. It was the first time the NZ team was touring Pakistan since 2003. Now the scheduled tour of the English team to Pakistan in October is also in jeopardy, with the ECB saying it will make a final decision in the next few days. England has not played any internationals in Pakistan for the past 16 years. The hopes of Pakistani cricket lovers have been shattered and the government appears helpless. And, though the Kiwis acted in haste, there must be soul-searching at home too.
The resolution of security issues should have been a primary task of all concerned. It is a shame that we were unable to allay their fears. The people of Pakistan are disappointed, and they have a right to ask for details about what happened, when and why. Just blaming the hosts is not enough; there should be a thorough inquiry about this unfortunate development. If it was just a hoax, how was it allowed to spiral into this disaster? In a way, the fears of visiting teams in Pakistan are not totally unfounded if you keep in view the terrorist attacks on the New Zealand team in Karachi and Sri Lankan team in Lahore in the past decades. What we now need to know is precisely what went on and what the sequence of events was to take the Kiwis so quickly out of the country, so that we can try and build an even stronger security apparatus in the future and persuade other countries to tour Pakistan, which so badly needs international cricket to return to its shores for the sake of its players, for the sake of sports fans, and for the sake of the game in general.