Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Obituary: International Cricket in Pakistan (Jan 1, 1955 to Mar 2, 2009)

I think the title says it all. Today's disgusting and shameful attacks have sealed the deal. There is no reason for any foreign team to tour Pakistan.

My thoughts and prayers are with the injured Sri Lankans. Reports seem to indicate that the injuries sustained were thankfully not from the bullets, but from debris. I hope this is true. Pakistan is highly indebted to the the Sri Lankan for continuing to tour Pakistan when other teams have pulled out. It is saddening that the gifts they receive are empty crowds, dead pitches, and a terrorist attack.

And let's not forget the security entourage that is responsible for protecting the teams. It seems like they did their job. May their families find the patience and fortitude to deal with their irreplaceable losses.

Going forward, Pakistan has only one choice - adopt Dubai/Abu Dhabi as "home" grounds. The pitiful crowds at recent matches in Pakistan have shown that the home crowds are not all that thirsty for international cricket.

And as for 2011, Pakistan should do the right thing and pull out as a host. The earlier, the better.

Make your pitch on this post...



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30 Pitched:

  1. Obaid said...
     

    very sad sledge... until now I have joined Q in saying that these security fears are only in people's minds and that cricketers are the safest people in the country. Sadly, I can not do so anymore.

    Now I have given up that hope and join you in condemning these attacks. I hope the players are ok and can return to Sri Lanka safely.

    There will be a whole bunch of people saying "I told you so..." and there is nothing I can do but admit they are right

  2. Obaid said...
      This comment has been removed by the author.
  3. Leg Break said...
     

    Well said sledge and Obaid.

    It's a sad day for all concerned, and in a strangely appropriate sad way, it seems tragically fitting that Kinbg Kumar, possibly the most universally admired of cricketers would appear to be the most injured player.

  4. Soulberry said...
     

    The saddest part is there was always a feeling that cricketers could heal and would never be the target. And Lankans were messengers of peace and hope.

    My condolences to those martyred while carrying out their duties.

  5. Q said...
     

    I have time and again argued that cricketers are not targets of terrorists.. leave me, Imran Khan and others have said so as well and we firmly believed in this.. why wud anyone target cricketers?

    Sadly its not true. To say I am appalled will be a drastic understatment.. I have argued Pakistan's case as a host against a lot of people including RGB recently on this very blog.. I can't do so anymore...

    I doubt I will get to see any cricket in Pakistan in my lifetime..

    Sledge ur right in saying that Pakistan should do the right thing and pull out of the WC as a host and forget abt trying to host the champions trophy.. If they dont act fast, the ICC should cos an alternate replacement wud need appropriate time to get the arrangements in order..

    I am sorry Sri Lanka.. thats all I can say for u had to go through this in my country.. they have always supported us in tough times..

    I guess India did the right thing by not touring.. we all know wat the repurcutions wud have been had they been targeted..

    Hopefully Lanka will get home safely.. hopefully PCB will find neutral venues to play cricket on..

    Its sad.

  6. SledgeHammer said...
     

    @Q: Yes, it's sad. There are enough insane people in this world to target anyone and anything. The point is such people want attention more than anything. An attack on top-class athletes will give these a-holes the attention they want.

    BTW, ICC already officially took the Champions Trophy away from Pak and handed it to Sri Lanka (but now they have weather concerns with Sri Lanka, so are looking at other venues).

  7. SledgeHammer said...
     

    See how Dominic Cork's views changed. He was trying his best to be positive about Pakistan. I don't blame him at all for his views now.


    February 24:

    Former England Test fast bowler Dominic Cork has urged foreign teams to play cricket in Pakistan. 37-year-old Cork, who is in Pakistan as a TV commentator for the ongoing Pakistan-Sri Lanka Test series, was talking to media at the National Stadium here on Monday. “I enjoy being in Karachi. I said this before when I came for the one-day matches last month. I have a great time as a commentator, it is fantastic experience with top class hospitality and arrangements,” Cork said.

    ...

    “I am sure with the ICC help, Australia, England and India would come back and play here because the people of Pakistan love their cricket.”

    ...

    Asked if he was approached by the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) for a feed back on the situation in Pakistan, Cork said if the ECB approached him he would definitely give them positive feed back. “My simple message to teams is ‘play cricket in Pakistan,” Cork concluded.




    March 3rd:


    Former England cricketer Dominic Cork, who is there as a commentator, said he would never return to the country.

    He told Sky News: "I won't be coming back here while I'm still living, there is no chance."

    He added: "I don't think international cricket should return to this country."

  8. Anonymous said...
     

    From a different perspective, I think this will be another wakeup call for the Politicians, Army and middle class Pakistanis to really understand the penetration of terrorism within the society...

    And i hope that these wakeup calls don't go waste.

  9. Leg Break said...
     

    That Dominic Cork angle says it all.

  10. Wasim said...
     

    Whosoever did it has set a dangerous precedent, now no venue and no cricket team is safe in the world. Terrorists hungry for instant publicity will attack sportsmen to attract attention.

    Whatever happened is very unfortunate if it was not for those brave men who gave away there lives it could have been much worse, as several car bombs were difused, several sucide jackets have been recovered and a lot of heavy automatic weapons and rocket launchers have been siezed.

    A few grenades which were thrown on the bus failed to explode miraculously.

    I hope that the SL players reach their homes safely, Pakistani nation will remain indebted to them, and I also hope that the authorities will soon catch the remaining terrorists and give them exemplary punishment.

  11. Life_in_Binary said...
     

    Just lastnight over dinner with some indian friends i was joking that had the indian team visited pakistan to play the test series, we by now would have witnessed a 3rd triple century by Sehwag or another of their batsman doing the deed, my whole point was to describe the pitches that we have seen AND the security arrangements that have been in place. Today morning it was one of those friends who called me up and said that he'd rather live with the hope of Sehwag scoring a triple century than scoring none at all if God forbid something had happened. I was left speechless and i still am.

  12. SledgeHammer said...
     

    @anonymous: Every time an attack happens, we think it will be a wakeup call. In just over a year - Benazir, Marriott, and now this.

    It doesn't seem to change anything.

    Anyway, I'm going a little off-topic here. We should stick to cricket.

  13. Anonymous said...
     

    More than cricket, its the society that's become hostage to these senseless ignorant bastards.

    Forget who's going to play cricket in the country, I just called up home to ask them to get their visa's sorted in case they have to evacuate. It's a messy situation, and we have nobody at the helm who can take control and provide leadership - at any level whatsoever. Zardari is an a**hole, Nawaz trying for political survival, and Kiyani just let Swat slip into terrorists arms. People are either too scared, or too used to the situation.

    It's yet another sad day, and one just waits with bated breath for the next one, hoping against hope that it won't happen yet at the same time prepared for the worst.

  14. Ankit Poddar said...
     

    it is really a sad thing to have happened, and sadder for you (if it were possible) for this to have happened in your country!

    yes, sledge, pakistan cricket should do the right thing by pulling out of WC.

    may cricket in pakistan, rest in peace, which is really ironical!

  15. Abdul said...
     

    Today’s event was something vivid, suicidal and catastrophic affair which has put Pakistan’s image on the global scale in utter shame and disgrace. The event has stolen the headlines in the media and put future doubts in deep concerns. In fact it is predicted that there will be no home series for another 25 to 30 years. But each and every one of us can admit that this is fair as today’s scenario has underlined the fact that Pakistan isn’t a hostile environment for international tours as the consequences can be fatal. But above all the concerning factor is the list of controversies and suicidal attacks are occurring frequently with Pakistan’s participation in the last 5 years such as the Bob Woolmer suspect case . Why does it have to be us that get the centre blame and involvement in the tragedies?


    But currently our moments and condolences lie with the wounded Srilankan players and their families or any other people who suffered from this shocking tragedy. But credit to the emergency services for making immediate arrangements in order for the touring side to arrive back safely and securely .


    Simply war on terror MUST stop but one thing is for certain the impact and consequences of today’s event can never be justified. Can they?

  16. Sam said...
     

    And yes stop playing cricket. forget cricket. forget watching it.

    What wud u guys say on ur so called iconic ex captain Imran Khan who categorically said terrorists wont hit cricketers. they did and unfortunately it were peace messengers of SL....

    Again the same question i wud raise as i did during 11/26 : why doesnt an average Pakistani citizen stand against the terror being bred and exported ?

    Hate to be saying this but unless the common man in that country doesnt do anything and stand up against this, such kinda attacks wud keep happening. sadly SL were hurt today. God forbid if somebody lost his life (cricketer) to this mindless jihadi!!

    Kill me or hate me for this, but there is some reality to this. You can very well like to reel me for my views :)

  17. SledgeHammer said...
     

    @Sam: you are absolutely right in that Pakistanis (govt and people) should stand up and take action. I don't argue with that.

    But it's much easier said than done. It's a lot more complicated than it seems. Doesn't excuse anyone from their responsibility, but there are challenges that are often overlooked by observers.

    I have a lot to say, in fact I wrote quite a bit in this comment but then deleted it because this is primarily a cricket blog and want to stick to cricket as much as possible.

    But I disagree with you in Pakistan staying away from cricket. That makes no sense whatsoever, and helps absolutely no one, and I have no idea why you would say that.

  18. RGB said...
     

    Q,
    I would have been more than happy if I had been wrong in our discussion.

    But as Reg Dickason said the concerns have come home to roost and unfortunately it has taken a direct attack on SL team and the tragic loss of 8 persons for people to be convinced of the threat.

    But even more frightening are the reactions from Pakistani establishment and the media. Even after this dastardly attack , quite a few people in Pakistan are still in denial.

    I do not know what it will take for these people to emerge out of their delusions.

    Needless to say, there wont be any international cricket in Pakistan , including the 2011 WC , in near future and Pakistan should adopt Abu Dhabi and Dubai as their home grounds.

    This attack also raises serious questions about the level and the quality of security provided to the SL team.

  19. SledgeHammer said...
     

    @RGB: The denials and accusations are standard MO. It's a way to deflect attention. Used to sorta work better in the past, but it's completely useless today.

    There's no question about cricket in Pakistan. Nothing for the next few years, absolutely nothing.

    I think security got lax because they figured that SL was not a target. If it had been India or the likes of Aus, Eng, SA, NZ, then the security would have been more (wrong approach, but that's what I think happened).

    There's only so much you can do against an RPG. But to let some of these attackers come so near the bus is a failure.

  20. Damith S. said...
     

    Well I just wanted to pop in to let you guys know how sorry I am that this happened.

    As a Sri Lankan, I want you guys to know that the general sense amongst us fans is of no ill will towards the Pakistanis.

    I would hate to see Pakistan not play anymore cricket.

    Like you guys have suggested, pick a home base (abudabi) and try to move all the tours there.

    What the terrorists want is to isolate Pakistan, Cricket and cricketers should by and large be safe outside the borders (but who knows anymore).

    Best of luck. We need Pakistan in action.

    I wonder if we can even continue this tour, in the future at a neutral venue.

  21. RGB said...
     

    Sledgehammer,
    It is not only the officials who have done that.

    Mohammed Yousuf has supposedly said " jinhon nay yeh hamla kiya hain woh pakistani nahi ho saktay".

    Some other blogs and commentators have maintained similar stance.

    This will not aid the process for normalcy.

  22. Obaid said...
     

    RGB, re you sure he didnt mean that "they were not from us" or they do not deserve to be called Pakistani"?

    I definitely agree that a realization must come from within and popular society must kick out the terrorists, instead of subscribing to their twisted "romantic" brain washings.

    But cricket must also go on

  23. SledgeHammer said...
     

    @RGB: I think Q might be right i.e. Yousuf was trying to say that they are not one of us.

    However, I'm sure there are lots of people who will try to point fingers elsewhere. Denial is a human trait, and it's not a very helpful one. But over time, the number of deniers has kept dropping. You'll never get 100% acceptance, but we're definitely in majority territory now.

  24. RGB said...
     

    Obaid,
    I only read the quote somewhere else. It could mean the other thing as well.

    Sure cricket must continue. But at neutral venues for the time being.International cricket in Pakistan must wait till a degree of normalcy is restored.

  25. SledgeHammer said...
     

    @Damith: Thanks for your thoughts. Sri Lankans have always been very dear to Pakistani hearts. Without reservation you toured us when no one else did, and that will never be forgotten. We are happy that it was your team that won the only World Cup final ever held in Pakistan.

    I hope the players recover from their injuries as quickly as possible and return to being as amazing a team as they have always been.

    Yes, cricket must go on. Pakistan should accept reality asap and begin scheduling foreign tours and/or use neutral venues.

  26. RGB said...
     

    Sledgehammer,
    May be and I hope thats what Yousuf meant.

    I hope you are right about Pakistani society finally realising the danger and discharges its responsibility of purging the terrorists that target Pakistan and other countries as well.

  27. sid said...
     

    Both our nations, India and pakistan , are scarred by the terrorist attacks with terrifying regualrity. And in both the nations, its the innocent bystanders and security personnel who get killed. I do not know when , if at all, we will be able to come out this nightmare and leave peacefully ever after . My condolences, for whatever they are worth, to all our pakistani cousins who suffer as much as we do.
    And one redeeming feature in our much-attacked national fabric has been the common love for the game.Cricket and its glory brought momentary solace to so many of us in times of national crisis. Now it seems that the bastards want to take that away from us as well.
    I will miss Pakistan Cricket and I sincerely hope that they still continue to participate in away-matches and tournaments.

  28. obaid said...
     

    Well said Sid...

  29. Anonymous said...
     

    As an Indian I really feel sorry for Pak fans.

    I still have extremely fond memories from my last Pakistan visit. Crowds in Pakistan actually cheered every time India took wickets or hit sixes. I don't remember the last time Asian crowds showed such spirit.

    Well...all socities have highs and lows. A few gun toting individuals can't hijack a vast ocean of cricket lovers.

    I have very little doubt that time will heal these injuries and international cricket will flourish in Pakistan yet again.

    Raj

  30. SledgeHammer said...
     

    @Raj: thanks for your sentiments. I have always wanted to watch a cricket match in India. I am still emotionally touched by the standing ovation that was given to Pakistan after the classic Madras test during Pakistan's lap of honor. Similarly, the reception of the Karachi crowd to the Indian team after the nail-biting first ODI in 2004 was very memorable.

    Trash-talking and what not are part of the game, especially given the difficult history of the two countries. The great thing is that most Pakistan and Indian fans shed all of that once the game is over.

    I have an immense amount of respect for the Indian team, and for other cricket success India has enjoyed - ICL, IPL, etc. We are also grateful that India toured Pakistan for the Asia Cup and several times before, and would probably have toured in Dec/Jan had it not been in the immediate aftermath of the Mumbai attacks.

    Cheers!

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