Saturday, May 16, 2015
Daily Times editorial May 17, 2015
Finally on Everyone in Pakistan knows the importance of the Zimbabwe cricket team’s tour of Pakistan. Since the 2009 attack on the Sri Lanka cricket team in Lahore, no international side has considered it safe to tour Pakistan. As a result, Pakistan has had to make do with ‘home’ series played on the ‘borrowed’ grounds of the UAE. Useful as these ‘home’ series have been in keeping the Pakistan cricket team engaged in international cricket (apart of course from foreign tours), these makeshift arrangements cannot be said to have added much to Pakistan’s stock. The decline in the standards of Pakistan’s cricket can be traced at least partially to the absence of home advantage. Zimbabwe may be considered by now to have been reduced because of their own Board’s problems to one of the minnows of international cricket, but as the forerunner of what was hoped would become a turnaround in the fortunes of Pakistan, their tour assumed both a symbolic as well as practical importance. Symbolic because a team had actually taken on the risks, practical because if the tour went off without incident, it would help to alleviate other cricket playing countries’ anxieties. It came as a big shock therefore to cricket fans to hear that Zimbabwe had had second thoughts after the massacre of Ismailis in Karachi the other day. The incident of course reflects the ongoing terrorism threat in Pakistan. All the hard work of the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) to persuade Zimbabwe therefore seemed doomed to disappear down the same sinkhole without a trace. However, if the latest reports and PCB chairman Shahryar Khan are to be believed, Zimbabwe, after lots of hesitation and reported extensive discussions, conveyed verbally to Shahryar Khan that the tour was definitely on. The latest reports also speak of a written confirmation having been received from the Zimbabwe Cricket Board (ZCB). All cricket lovers would earnestly hope that the news of salvage of the Zimbabwe tour despite the latest atrocity that shocked Pakistan and the world are true. And if indeed that is the case, the Pakistani cricket and law enforcement authorities better get their act together to ensure a trouble-free tour. The security team of the ZCB that visited Pakistan recently seemed fairly satisfied as to the arrangements for security made by our PCB and the authorities. Let us hope they too have not changed their minds. It should be noted that the PCB agreed with the ZCB that all the matches, T20 as well as ODIs, would be played in Lahore. This has produced ire amongst the cricket fans in other centres, but presumably our PCB thought it could better control things in the Punjab capital, despite the fact that it was Lahore where the fateful attack on the Sri Lankan cricketers took place six years ago. Now if the reports of the tour finally being on are correct, the authorities must ensure tight security for the visiting team. The future of Pakistan cricket hinges on it.