Pakistan cricket plunges into crisis

March 3, 2009

It’s just not cricket.

Ducking for cover as bullets replaced bouncers… players evacuated in a military helicopter that lands right next to a 22-yard pitch… the same strip at Lahore’s Gaddafi Stadium that saw Thilan Samaraweera score a double century the previous evening.

Samaraweera was hit on his leg during an audacious attack by armed militants on a convoy taking his team to the venue, an attack that left six cricketers injured and more than half-a-dozen Pakistani security personnel killed.

The world of cricket will never be the same again.

More worrying is the fate of Pakistani cricket. Tours to Pakistan were already a trickle with teams like Australia refusing to travel.

The matches against Sri Lanka came after more than a year of near pariah status. And even this tour was hastily arranged after India pulled out post-26/11.

After months of shadow boxing and pulled punches, the ICC had to suspend international cricket in Pakistan.

Tuesday’s attack also raised serious doubts about Pakistan’s chances of co-hosting the 2011 cricket world cup.

Authorities were already considering five alternate venues for the Champions Trophy.

The cricketing fraternity has expressed solidarity with both the Pakistani and Sri Lankan players. They were both shocked and saddened.

They also say the game must go on, but where?

When will Pakistan get to host an international cricket match again?

Some like former fast bowler Sarfraz Nawaz are worried that other cricketing nations might even refuse to invite Pakistan over fears of the threat of terror trailing the team all the way to their doorsteps.

It will indeed be sad if international cricket is denied to Pakistan, not just to the players but to the public too.

It’s a game that has many a time been a metaphor for peace between India and Pakistan. The sport has been held hostage for that very reason too.

But diplomacy is a game played in the corridors of power, an arena far removed from the subcontinental dustbowls and narrow bylanes that has unearthed many a gem that has embellished the game of cricket.

What are the words that spring to mind when you talk about Pakistani cricketers?

Talented, temperamental, explosive and, more than anything else, unpredictable.

Hanif Mohammed, Mushtaq Mohammed, Imran Khan, Zaheer Abbas, Javed Miandad, Abdul Qadir, Wasim Akram, Waqar Younis, Inzamam-ul Haq, Mohammed Yousuf, Younis Khan — the list is impressive and rather long.

What makes these players churn out performances which swing from the sublime to the ridiculous to supreme craft remains one of the mysteries of the world of cricket.

Unlike England or Australia or even India, many who represented Pakistan on the world stage emerged despite the system in a country which today is bereft of a proper domestic cricket calender.

Today, the question is whether that mystique will be lost to the world, if not forever, at least for the foreseeable future.

And will the country itself be pushed into further isolation?


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I have a deep concerns for the safety of players both for Paksitan and Sri Lanka.
Its a very Grim Day in Cricket history especially for Pakistan, Pakistani cricket is already struggling due to dirty politics in Pakistan Cricktet Board. Its a lack of competency in this department, Pakistan cricket board should have issued a statment right away after the attack as well as they should come up with the solution.
Pakistani players are more discouraged with these kind of events.
Unfortunately paksitani cricket has to face inevitable circumstances at least for 2009.

Posted by Faisal Salahuddin | Report as abusive

This will be End of cricket for Pakistan.

Posted by rajkumar | Report as abusive

What a loss if that were to happen. Although, personally, I think both cricket and Pakistan will bounce back from this sticky wicket.

Posted by Madhu Soman | Report as abusive

Do you think Sharjah is a feasible option as an offshore venue?

Posted by Madhu Soman | Report as abusive

It would indeed be end of Cricket in Pakistan for a while.. But the game won’t stop..
Well..Cricket will bounce back soon..Pakistan.. I can’t say when..

Posted by Rajneesh | Report as abusive

All true. Its depressing. Its sad. Its shameful. We are disgusted about what just happened. And any apology to the brave Sri Lankans will not make it up. We are sorry – truly.

That was my sentiment – yesterday. Today, I am back to the frightening reality — we have such bigger problems at hand that we don’t know where to start fixing. What transpired is one small result of where we are with our nation. Chaos everywhere, infighting, lack of security, corruption, lack of direction, and worse — a lack of leadership to help us get out of the where we are. Yesterday’s event is a validation of the state of the nation.

As far as cricket is concerned, we need to have a Pakistan to have a Pakistani cricket. Its easy to bring the cricket bounce back. I am worried about friendships, our national spirit, a place in the world, and the nation on the brink…

Posted by Azhar Rafee | Report as abusive

It’s a strong messange sent across by the terrorist saying that there is no bigger ‘religion’ than Islam and the ‘God’ status enjoyed by the pakistani cricketers has to go!. Clearly,end of road,not just for pakistani cricket,but for the freedom of millions of ordinary citizens of a country plagued with terrorism.

Posted by Durgadas | Report as abusive

Did you see Shahid Afridi’s comment – “I feel like our beautiful country has been hemmed in from all sides.”?

Posted by Madhu Soman | Report as abusive

For the spirit of Cricket, sporting activities shouldn’t get mixed vth any politcal or social issues. Like any other ICC member countries; the show must go on as far as the game of cricket is concerned in Pakistan.

But if the PCB or Paki government are unable to ensure the safety of players in Pakistani grounds; then it could spell a doom for Pakitani cricket. Almost all the cricketing nations have already isolated the country by nt not risking their players by playin in the Pak Soil

Posted by Harish | Report as abusive

Do you think that the grounds in UAE will be in full pack durin PAK V/s (Bandsh/Zim/Ken/WI) matches. For a crowd puller in UAE grounds; it should be a Ind-Pak match; while our BCCI is almost against playin at neutral venues.

The idiotic PCB members might think of neutral venues in UAE; such as Abu Dhabi n Sharjah. But how long the revenues from these venues can sustain & benefit th future of cricket n cricketers in pakistan. Without any revenues earned locally (international matches); PAK cricket won’t survive in th longrun

Posted by Harish | Report as abusive

Fair point. The offshore venues might still work. But what about domestic cricket structure in Pakistan?

Posted by Madhu Soman | Report as abusive

Terrorism is a Global phenomenon and it is a network. It is camouflaged as radicles, freedom fighters, or you name it. To finance the terror, it gets one’s suffering, puts in a showcase and solicits those who sympathize its cause. It makes sure that the cash flow is there to procure illegal arms and to propagate its mask. Also, it extorts and exploits the weaken one. It acts in a faceless manner in the places where it wants to get total control. To eradicate it, the collective effort of the World is badly needed as it could happen anywhere of the Globe .. !

Posted by Gamini Gunasekera – Mendis | Report as abusive

For the Second time in the recent history of World sports, the networking of Global Terror has made a scar in spite of the effort made to put all the differences behind in the spirit of sport. The question we all have to ask ourselves how long we are going to stay blind-eyed to all the sources of these terror networks which are operating under our noses. Terror Groups exploit one’s suffering to execute the terror and the other’s sympathy to finance the terror .. The World leaders have got to identify this phenomenan as a threat and set an agenda to eradicate once in for all .. We should not wait untill the terrorism hit on our door. The World must act together to overcome the rising Global Terror ..

Posted by Gamini Gunasekera – Mendis | Report as abusive

India better take this opportunity to host more games and rack up some money, while it last. Same applies to any other business opportunities.
Pakistan’s future in cricket and economy looks very bad, if the country goes to anarchy, then India need lots of money to protect her borders.

Posted by Neo | Report as abusive

it sounds like the recent attack against the Sri Lankan cricket team is turning out to be a huge blow to tons of Pakistani cricket fans, since now the sport in general has to be curtailed throughout the country

Posted by coffee | Report as abusive

@Azhar Rafee,

I commend you for being a rational and reasonable Pakistani voice. It is a breath of fresh air to see a Pakistani blogger who is not indulging in elaborate conspiracy theories. I hope to meet more smart, awakened Pakistani’s like yourself. When I hear Pakistanis like you speak, I think at times, there is hope for Pakistan.

Posted by Global Watcher | Report as abusive

It may be safer to hold the cricket tour in Afghanistan. India will attend, as it may be safer there.

Posted by Global Watcher | Report as abusive

@Globe watcher
“It may be safer to hold the cricket tour in Afghanistan. India will attend, as it may be safer there.”

Thats a good idea infact, and who know if cricket is promoted in afghanistan, they may have an international team in coming years.

Other thing is as sane pakistanis will start fleeing soon from pakistan, we could also see some former Pakistani players in this new team.

Posted by punjabiyaar | Report as abusive

@Fair point. The offshore venues might still work. But what about domestic cricket structure in Pakistan?
– Posted by Madhu Soman

–One needs to be fearless to play any game. This attack has definitely hurt the domestic cricket in Pakistan.
I expect a drop in street cricket and informal cricket played in Pakistan. Parents would advise their kids “sit tight, life is more important than cricket”. Same for tournaments inside Pakistan. All this will affect international Pakistan cricket, atleast the quality of it and thus the finances too.

We talk about weeding out the idealogy that leads to radicalism and terrorism. Terrorists are much ahead, they are in fact using this approach through Lahore attack–killing the game in the long run.

Attack on Cricket might be unique since it is a game invented by British. But I will not put my neck on the block for terrorists not strking a “kabaddi” team. Perhaps terrorists leave all of us explaining their motives and mayhem/publicity might be their only purpose.

Posted by rajeev | Report as abusive

Sri Lankan spinner Muthiah Muralitharan, Australian umpire Simon Taufel and former England Test player Dominic Cork too have joined in the chorus against the poor security arrangements at Lahore.

Both Muralitharan and Taufel have spoken about an inexplicable change made to the departure timing of the Pakistani team’s bus that had the effect of sparing the host nation’s team from the terrorists’ bullets.

Taufel told The Times that while the two teams had travelled to the stadium together on the previous two days, on the day of the attack the bus carrying the Pakistan team left five minutes later.

“One thing I have been impressed about in Pakistan is that logistically they are usually very well organised. They normally depart on time,” he said in comments quoted on Thursday.

“We knew we were departing at 8.30 a.m on the third morning. As to why the Pakistani team left at a different time, I don’t know.”

Muralitheran suggested the terrorists may have had inside information.

“Somehow in this incident there were no police with guns on the bus – if someone was there with a gun we would have had a chance of defending ourselves,” Muralitharan told Radio5aa in Adelaide, Australia.

Cork said the Lahore attack was “one of the most frightening experiences” imaginable.

“It’s just been one of the most frightening experiences you could ever witness,” said Cork, whose bus was just ahead of the ones carrying the Sri Lankan players and umpires.

Former Pakistani president Pervez Musharraf also got into the act Thursday, blaming the security forces for not reacting swiftly and effectively when the terrorist struck.

“I expected the security forces to shoot down those people who attacked the Sri Lankan team. There are elite forces placed there and they are expected to react within three seconds of any such incident,” he told reporters here.

“This the kind of training that these forces are provided with. The standards of the training have to improve if we are to tackle such situations effectively,” the former president maintained.

Posted by Anitha | Report as abusive

I will put 1 million RS as a bet(Indian rupees), that the cricket attack was either orchestrated by Nawaz E. Sharif’s people, given the timing, or LET. Sharif wanted to avenge the latest decision by the Zardari’s govt or it was the KeT to embarass Pak’s new civ. govt.

Posted by Global Watcher | Report as abusive

Who would be gaining out of this incident……. I think Pakistan should start complete wipe-out program for RA&W elements in Pakistan, Now after its failure to defame Pakistan, even after killing its own people in the name of 26/11 mumbai incident, india has started to show its crule intentions towards a peace-loving country, india is lossing against Pakistan in every aspect and God is helping Pakistan (see Wagha incidents, when indian soldier got terrified byu Pakistani soldier, Nature has beaten india against Pakistan) Now india is using cheap tricks like attacking the Cricket Players, ruining the paradise on earth by funding SWAT militants, and many more. india should not forget that the world is watching. india is famous for mass murders of muslims, who do not know the story of Babu Bajrangi, who himslef raped, killed, burnt alive, tear-apart more than 100 muslims with the support of Chief Minister Narendra Modi and indian govt. is doing nothing on this case (see india’s owned website filename=Ne031107NarodaPatyaMassacre.asp  )

Posted by Peace | Report as abusive

Clearly the attackers were from the insurgent groups in Pakistan acting against the national interests of the Pak Gov’t. One has to wonder why they spared the Sri Lankan players. I think it was to show that they could have done much worse. Next time they may not be so restrained, so the Pak gov’t should not let them get another chance. Time to go after the homegrown terrorists and end this threat.

Posted by Dave DeFave | Report as abusive


@Who would be gaining out of this incident……
From what you write and how happy/or non-serious you sound appears that you are 1 among the 12 terrorists. Hang you upside down find out who the remaining 11 were–simple. Now rush to your hole.

Posted by rajeev | Report as abusive

being an indian,i can’t thank God enough that india cancelled its tour of Pakistan.God knows what would have happened to them.Maybe the incident was top show how deep terrorism has reached into the core of Pakistan.
All the same i also feel sorry for the Pakistani public and people…Pakistan has always enjoyed and has been good at cricket.Now without any tours,PCB will find it difficult to maintain pakistani cricket at its current standards.

Posted by swagat | Report as abusive