Pakistan’s effort to bring international cricket back to their country has been facing tremendous resistance. It is a country which has a huge fan following for the game and they deserve to watch their team playing international series at home.
It is with great hope that the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) had planned to stage the limited overs series with Sri Lanka at Lahore and Karachi this month-end. This decision had brought immense joy to Pakistan’s cricket-starved fans but unfortunately, all their efforts seem to be once again on the verge of getting ruined.
Firstly, the senior Sri Lankan cricketers pulled out of the Pakistan tour citing security reasons. This was followed by the Sri Lankan government receiving the news of a possible terrorist threat on their team in Pakistan.
International cricket can return to Pakistan only if the entire global cricket fraternity joins hands to back their effort. It is not easy to wipe away the memories of 2009 terror attack on the Sri Lanka team in Lahore. Pakistan’s cricket fans have paid heavily for this incident with all their home international matches getting shifted to UAE for the last decade.
It is indeed a noble gesture from Sri Lanka to have agreed to tour Pakistan 10 years after the terror attack. Had the tour taken off with all senior players too playing in the series, then it would have boosted the confidence of other teams too.
Imran Khan, who rose from cricket to become the Prime Minister, would be disappointed if he is unable to bring back the game that shaped his career back to his country. The UAE had surely done its bit to keep Pakistan’s home series alive by making all their grounds available but what they cannot create is the same atmosphere and aura that could rival Pakistan.
The spectator turnout, except on public holidays, was never like in Pakistan. Only a handful of spectators turned up for Test matches. It is a fact that even Pakistan fans in the UAE had skipped many of their home series matches played in this country.
Pakistan, like in India and Sri Lanka, would have had packed stadia for all their matches but the so-called terror threats have denied millions of cricket fans from watching live cricket. This situation can end if all Asian countries join hands and pledge to play in Pakistan. If Pakistan manages to stage a few series against Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Afghanistan successfully, then it could give other nations the confidence to return to Pakistan.
Sri Lanka deserves plaudits for coming forward to send their team. If top cricketers too can come forward, then not only Pakistan but cricket too can emerge as the winner!