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Sri Lanka’s Tour Back On But Pakistan Need a Permanent Solution

Sri Lankan Cricket has decided to go ahead with the tour of Pakistan but the big players are still staying away.

Updated
Cricket
3 min read
Sri Lanka will play three one-day internationals at Karachi with the first ODI on 27 September. Lahore will host three Twenty20s from 5-9 October.
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Sri Lankan Cricket has confirmed its tour to Pakistan after weeks of speculation of it being called off due to a terror threat that had been received by the Lankan Prime Minister’s office.

The latest development comes after the Government of Pakistan and the Pakistan Cricket Board had reassured the Islanders of providing them with Head of State-level security.

Speaking to The Quint, a PCB spokesperson said that the board has provided such security in the past on various occasions and will do so again for any visiting side.

“We hosted Zimbabwe in 2015, World XI in 2017, West Indies and Sri Lanka in 2018, and Pakistan Super League’s (PSL) play-offs and the finals in 2017, 2018 and 2019. We have a set precedent of giving the players top-notch security,” said the PCB spokesperson who asked to be not named.

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When asked what the PCB thinks of Sri Lanka’s star players pulling out of the tour, he said that it’s the prerogative of the Sri Lanka Cricket to select the best available players. “We cannot ask another board to send particular players,” said the official about big names like Lasith Malinga, Dimuth Karunaratne and Angelo Mathews electing to skip the tour of Pakistan.

However, with the SLC giving the tour the green light, Sri Lanka will now play three one-day internationals at Karachi with the first ODI on 27 Sept. Lahore will host three Twenty20s from 5-9 October.

Sri Lanka’s Tour Back On But Pakistan Need a Permanent Solution
(Photo: AP)

Sarfaraz Ahmed, Pakistan’s limited-overs captain for the Sri Lanka series, had also appealed in a press conference a day before the start of the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy, to the International Cricket of Council (ICC) to help Pakistan in its time of need.

The skipper had urged the ICC to take necessary steps to restore international cricket in Pakistan.

Since the attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team’s bus in 2009, international cricket in Pakistan has come to a standstill and even though Pakistan has successfully hosted four international series since then, none of them, apart from one, featured foreign star players.

The ICC, to its credit, did its bit by sending a World XI to Pakistan back in 2017 after the PCB convinced it to be safe enough to host international T20 series. And while there hasn’t been a single incident reported in all the games that Pakistan has hosted so far, it is yet to attract star players to play on its grounds.

The Telegraph in its report last year noted that the PCB had incurred losses of about $100mn due to being unable to host international cricket.

And while playing on neutral venues has saved Pakistan cricket from going into a severe financial crunch, it did not help it enough to pocket major profits. Not playing against India didn’t help the PCB either with broadcast deals and other contracts amounting to another $100mn, taking the losses to almost $200mn.

It is absolutely vital for the PCB to not only host its games on its home grounds but to attract enough star players to bring out fans to the stadia in order for it to make up for the losses it has incurred over the years.

However, how the ICC will go about ensuring Pakistan hosts all its games on its home grounds remains a subject of discussion.

It has already sent a World XI once to help the other teams convince that Pakistan is safe for international cricket but what will it do if the star players keep pulling out from touring Pakistan?

And in a matter as delicate as that of security, the ICC’s role as cricket’s governing body also comes under scrutiny as it can neither afford to risk the lives of its players nor it would want to anger the second-largest cricket market of over 200mn people.

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(The writer is a sports journalist based in Pakistan. He tweets @HumayounAK)

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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