Afghanistan series gives Pakistan glimmer of hope

Published May 31, 2011 09:51am

Fans look on as they watch the match between Pakistan A and Afghanistan at the Iqbal Cricket Stadium in Faisalabad on May 29. Pakistani hopes of reviving international cricket rose after successfully hosting a one-day series against Afghanistan, but experts on May 30 warned against any imminent breakthrough. Pakistan's second string whitewashed Afghanistan -- the first international team to. - AFP PHOTO

KARACHI: Pakistani hopes of reviving international cricket rose after successfully hosting a one-day series against Afghanistan, but experts on Monday warned against any imminent breakthrough.

Pakistan's second string whitewashed Afghanistan - the first international team to tour since the Sri Lankan team was attacked in Lahore in 2009 - in the three-match series which finished on Sunday.

The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) said the untroubled series, albeit against lowly-ranked Afghanistan, sent positive signals after international matches were suspended following the March 2009 attacks that killed eight people, and wounded seven Sri Lankan players and their assistant coach.

But former players and officials remained guarded. “Apparently hosting the series gives a glimmer of hope, but it wouldn't mean anything to top cricketing nations like England, Australia and India,” said former player Iqbal Qasim.

“Revival of international cricket in Pakistan is linked to the security situation in our country, so it is advisable for the PCB to invite smaller nations, second strings and Under-19 outfits in the next few years,” he added.

Even before the Lahore attacks, Pakistan was a virtual “no go” zone for international teams, who frequently refused to visit over security fears following the September 11, 2001 attacks and the ensuing war on Al-Qaeda.

“While trying to convince the teams to tour Pakistan, our stance used to be that cricket was never attacked in our country, but the Lahore incidents changed the scenario and it will now take time to resume tours,” said Qasim.

Former PCB chief Tauqir Zia agreed that hosting the Afghans was a small step, particularly after Sri Lanka recently refused to visit later this year.

“It's a fact that the security situation is not conducive for cricket tours in our country,” said Zia. “Sri Lanka has recently refused a tour due to take place in October this year, so we must take small steps like this one.”

The PCB, however, has trumpeted loud public optimism. “Under the circumstances we have managed to host an international series and I am sure this successful hosting of Afghanistan will send positive signals to the cricket world,” said PCB general manager for domestic affairs Shafiq Ahmed.

“It was wonderful to see a packed Iqbal stadium (in the city of Faisalabad) on Sunday and the atmosphere was electrifying which gives us big hope that people want to watch international cricket,” said Ahmed, a former Test opener.

Interior Minister Rehman Malik vowed to do everything possible to ensure Test-playing nations return. “I want to convey a message to the International Cricket Council (ICC) that 'please convince teams to play cricket in Pakistan',” Malik said on Friday. “We are capable of protecting teams and would do everything to revive cricket.”

The ICC stripped Pakistan of its share of hosting World Cup 2011 matches and formed a task force to find ways to revive international cricket in Pakistan, where bomb attacks have killed more than 4,410 people in the last four years.

The task force suggested World XI (teams comprising players from all countries) and junior teams' tours as initial small steps in the process.

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Comments (8) (Closed)


Zahir
May 31, 2011 04:26pm
Good to have Afghanistan play in Pakistan but name another side that might want to come? Would we send our team to a country full of internal insecurity? Those who can provide assurances are not safe themselves given the attacks on military establishments. Until our internal situation improves we should be grateful to any country that offers to host cricket matches on our behalf such as the UAE.
Ayaz
May 31, 2011 09:14pm
Ejaz Nutt is desperately trying to isolate Pakistan Cricket..How the heck he think that Pakistan is safe for International Players. Could someone please show him the door please.
G.A.
May 31, 2011 11:42pm
So this then is the worth of a nuclear-weapons state and the seventh largest country in terms of population. I am just glad Afghanistan didn't back out due to security concerns. Now only if Rwanda and Somalia also played cricket I am sure we could've invited them as well.
Azhar Hussain
Jun 01, 2011 01:35am
Are you kidding me? These guys came to Pakistan only because their security situation is worse than us, period. And have we reached that low, that non-entity in the cricketing world comes to Pakistan and we are supposed to be happy. I don't mean to poke fun at Afghanistan, but come on give us (The Greeen Shirt Lovers) a break. And last but not least our President has no idea about running our beautiful country, he is ruining it and Mr useless Ijaz Butt is busy destroying our cricket team. The latest casuality is Shahid Afrid.
Ilyas
Jun 01, 2011 03:05am
We must start our own Pakistan Cricket League. we should encourage our friends like China, UAE, Saudi Arabia to play cricket. All these countries have cricket teams. Pakistan can even organise a tournament for these countries in Shanghai or Karachi. I am sure Pakistan will win this tournament.
Niran
Jun 01, 2011 10:32am
It feels bad to see a good cricketing team and a cricket crazy nation like Pakistan not able to host international teams for cricket matches in the country. We in India, would definitely love to see our national team play pakistan on their soil as soon as the security situation improves. After-all world cricket cannot afford to ignore a World Cup winning nation like Pakistan for long. Pray to God that Pakistan come's back on track soon & the moderate & powerful civil society there has the last say over militant & radical voices & acts' in that country.. God Bless
å…ƒ
Jun 01, 2011 05:57pm
It's best that Pakistan plays its matches on foreign soil as to prevent international embarrasement.
Rahmat
Jun 02, 2011 11:59pm
That is a good nes that our players were safe in pakistan.and i hope best future for Afghanistan and Pakistan. from kabul