The recent attack on Sri Lankan cricketers in Lahore has put forward numerous questions that need to be answered. While on the one hand it has proven once again that Pakistan is an extremely unsafe country to tour, the cowardly act by the terrorists has also put a question mark on International Cricket Council’s role as the supreme body governing the game around the world.
Just a few weeks before this heinous act, the ICC’s security team went to Pakistan to assess the security scenario before deciding the fate of the Champions Trophy, which was scheduled to be held there. Everybody is aware of what transpired after that and how Pakistan lost the hosting rights because the governing body was reportedly not entirely satisfied with the security arrangements.
The question here is that if there was even a semblance of doubt on the security front, why did the ICC even allow the Lankan players to tour the country, especially when India had earlier decided to call of their
scheduled cricket series.
The ICC will have to share the blame equally for this unfortunate event and will have to act authoritatively now by declaring Pakistan as unfit for touring if it wants to rescue its image as the apex cricket body in the world.
While it would be a disappointing decision for cricket, especially for the Pakistan board but one must understand that no amount of money is bigger than a player’s life. It is better to be safe than sorry at this point of time.
Sri Lankan team’s return to Pakistan may have been influenced by reasons other than just lending a helping hand to the PCB in their time of crisis, such as safeguarding their own interest as a terror hit nation. Perhaps, that is also the reason why first reactions coming in from the Lankan players suggest that they are stunned but do not want to make a huge hue and cry over the entire episode.
Cricket has suffered because of terror in the past as well but this is the first incident when cricketers have been targeted directly.
The need at this point of time is also to ensure the safety of the cricketers while making an attempt that Pakistan as a cricketing nation is not completely discarded by other nations. ICC President David Morgan in his press conference after the incident said that he hoped Pakistan will continue to play at neutral venues, not only for the sake of its fans but also for world cricket. At the moment it looks like the only solution to save Pakistan cricket atleast in the next couple of years.
Taking such actions will not only help the cause of the ICC but also instill a sense of security amongst such nations as Australia and England that the apex body cares about their security and will take every possible step to ensure it.
The ICC, which has until now done its best to declare Pakistan as a safe country for teams to tour must now accept the reality, which the world has already acknowledged.
(The views expressed by the author are personal)