In a country reeling under trillions of dollars of debt, sky-high inflation, and constant threats of death, Cricket is the single most theme that unites Pakistanis. The past few days have come off as a jolt for Pakistan cricket fans, and Pakistan Cricket Board’s attempt to revive cricket inside the country has ended up killing it forever.
England and Australia soon to cancel their Pakistan tours
After New Zealand’s last-minute withdrawal from the Pakistan tour, it seems highly unlikely that England and Australia will go ahead with their Pakistan series. England and Australia are slated to tour Pakistan for their series in October 2021 and February 2022 respectively. England men and women teams are scheduled to play two T20Is each in Rawalpindi on October 13 and 14, and the women are due to stay further for 3 ODIs. The Australian cricket team is scheduled to tour Pakistan in February and March 2022 to play two Tests, three One Day International (ODI) and three Twenty20 International (T20I) matches.
Commenting on New Zealand calling off the tour, NZC chief executive David White said the advice he received made the tour impossible to continue, and he was supported by the New Zealand Cricket Players Association. White said- “I understand this will be a blow for the PCB, who have been wonderful hosts, but player safety is paramount and we believe this is the only responsible option,”.
Former England captain Michael Vaughn tweeted- “Such a shame for Pakistan Cricket .. These late call-offs will damage the game hugely financially .. Hopefully, security issues can be resolved to allow cricket to be played again in Pakistan .. !!”.
Such a shame for Pakistan Cricket .. These late call offs will damage the game hugely financially .. Hopefully security issues can be resolved to allow cricket to be played again in Pakistan .. !!
— Michael Vaughan (@MichaelVaughan) September 17, 2021
Michael Atherton, the veteran English commentator, and columnist said that it is very difficult to see the England Tour of Pakistan going ahead now. Writing for The Times, Atherton stated- “The best hope is that England’s security advice at a government level differs from New Zealand’s. Even then, the prospect of some players pulling out must be real. “Pakistan has already faced an England second/third XI this summer when COVID necessitated wholesale changes to England’s team for the one-day series. They could face something similar again, even if the tour is given the all-clear, which is hard to see happening given that New Zealand has shared their security concerns with England,”.
There is a high chance of England following the precedent set by New Zealand, as cricket boards of both countries have employed the same security company as their advisor. It’s highly unlikely that the intelligence report given to the England Cricket board will vary from that given to New Zealand Cricket. If the England cricket board abandons the tour, then, Cricket Australia will not take the risk of jeopardising the life of its players. A CA spokesperson said the organisation is monitoring the situation and will “talk with the relevant authorities once more information becomes known”. Earlier, Australia had also cancelled a test with Taliban-ruled Afghanistan as the Taliban does not allow women to play cricket.
Cricket is dead in Pakistan and the reason is Imran Khan
After the 2009 terrorist attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team in Lahore, Pakistan has been playing its home series in UAE. For a brief series’ Zimbabwe, Sri Lanka, West Indies, Bangladesh, South Africa, and an ICC World XI team did tour Pakistan after 2015, but they could not inspire confidence about the security of the players.
With the advent of the Taliban in Afghanistan, the domestic terrorist groups in Pakistan like Tehrik-i-Taliban, LeT, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, Haqqani network, Al-Qaeda, Jaish-e-Mohammad, etc have gained strength. Since Pakistani prime minister, Imran khan actively supports the Taliban, the prospects of Pakistan being a peaceful state in a decade or two is extremely grim. Now, it is almost certain that Pakistan will not host a cricket game in the near future. One can feel sorry for Pakistani cricket fans; they brought in an ex-cricketing superstar as their Prime minister, hoping that he will revive cricket in the country. Instead, he ended up killing the game due to his open support of terrorist groups.