Pakistan cricket set to incur huge financial, reputational losses

Published September 18, 2021
Players of New Zealand and Pakistan attend a practice session in the Pindi Cricket Stadium in Rawalpindi on September 16. — AP/File
Players of New Zealand and Pakistan attend a practice session in the Pindi Cricket Stadium in Rawalpindi on September 16. — AP/File

LAHORE: The Pakistan Cricket Board will suffer financial losses in millions as a result of New Zealand abruptly calling off their tour just before the first of three One-day Internationals was to begin in Rawalpindi due to a security threat on Friday.

“Apart from the security losses,” a PCB official told Dawn on the condition of anonymity, “this is a blow to the efforts the PCB, the government and the security agencies who had been making to fully restore international cricket in Pakistan.”

The three ODIs were due to be followed by five Twenty20 Internationals in Lahore and the official said that even raising the issue against New Zealand Cricket at t he International Cricket Council would be of no help.

“The ICC has done nothing in these cases,” the official added. “Furthermore since the Indian lobby is strong at the ICC, so it will not be easy for the PCB to win any case of compensation against New Zealand.”

New Zealand were touring Pakistan for the first time since 2003 and their pull-out saw the England Cricket Board also announce that it will make a final decision on its October tour of Pakistan in the next few days. Their men’s and women’s teams are due in Pakistan for short two-match T20 series next month.

England’s men have not played an international in Pakistan since 2005 while the women are visiting for the first time.

“There isn’t much hope that England will tour now,” said the official.

Former England captain Michael Vaughan hoped security issues would be resolved 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,” Vaughan wrote on Twitter.

West Indies’ two-time T20 World Cup-winning captain Darren Sammy also voiced his disappointment over the abrupt cancellation of the series.

“Over the last six years playing and visiting Pakistan has been one of the most enjoyable experiences. I’ve always felt safe,” said Sammy, who played in the Pakistan Super League with Peshawar Zalmi before taking over as head coach last year.

‘HEARTBREAKING’

New Zealand’s decision to pull out caused huge uproar in Pakistan with former and current cricketers lashing out at the Black Caps.

Former Pakistan captain Shahid Afridi said that New Zealand had called off the tour “on a hoax”.

Pakistan all-rounder Shadab Khan termed it as “heartbreaking” while batsman Fakhar Zaman tweeted: “extraordinary security has been provided to the New Zealand team”.

New Zealand, minus several frontline players, had arrived in Pakistan at the weekend with a level of security usually reserved for visiting heads of state that included armed guards escorting their bulletproof buses.

Their Islamabad hotel, some 10 kilometres from the Rawalpindi stadium where they were due to play, has been guarded by a heavy paramilitary and police contingent.

Former Pakistan fast bowler Shoaib Akhtar pointed out that the Pakistan has safely hosted South Africa, Bangladesh, West Indies, Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe in recent years.

“We will rise from this. And soon... Not the first time we’ve been pushed against the wall. Unnecessary and uncalled for decision by Blackcaps,” he wrote on social media.

He also referenced Pakistan’s tour of New Zealand at the end of last year “in the worst of Covid circumstances regardless of the crude treatment by NZ authorities on that tour.”

However, former Australian fast bowler Jason Gillespie said it wasn’t right to criticise New Zealand.

“New Zealand Cricket would not have made the decision to end their tour of Pakistan lightly — they have shown time and again that they are willing to do their part to promote and play our great game so I don’t think it’s right to be critical of them,” Gillespie wrote on Twitter.

Published in Dawn, September 18th, 2021

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