Lahore: With the made in Pakistan tag, the Pakistan Super League (PSL) should have been rolled out in its home country, but the ban on the international cricket in Pakistan moved the game offshore.
Former cricketers and experts pose a question; if PSL is not an international team, then why it is not played in Pakistan?
Pakistan Super League, developed in T20 format, consists of five teams, Lahore Qalandars, Karachi Kings, Quetta Gladiators, Peshawar Zalmi, and Islamabad United. Each team comprises 16 players of which five are foreigners and 11 Pakistanis.
At least 25 foreign cricketers are playing in the PSL, which means security threats cannot be ignored.
News Lens Pakistan contacted the President Lahore Region Cricket Association, Khawaja Nadeem to find out as to why PSL’s fist session was not played in Pakistan.
“Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) did not want to take any chance. It was the first edition, and we wanted it to go uninterrupted,” said Nadeem.
International cricket was banned in Pakistan when the Sri Lankan cricket team was attacked near the Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore, Pakistan on March 4, 2009. Six members and an assistant coach of the Sri Lankan team were wounded while six Pakistani police officers and two civilians lost their life in the gunfire.
The government has since captured and punished the culprits involved in the heinous crime, but that did not help PCB convince the International Cricket Council (ICC) to relax banning rules.
The attack according to the then CCPO Lahore Pervez Rathore’s press conference held on 17 June 2009, was masterminded by Aqeel alias Dr Usman, who belonged to Tehreek-e-Taliban Punjab.
The former Pakistani veteran cricketer Javed Miandad told News Lens Pakistan, in a telephonic interview that the PCB has to convince its counterpart at the ICC that to combat terrorism in Pakistan allowing not banning international cricket is the recipe. “When sports would flourish it will bring new blood and thinking into the youngsters who would then be less attracted towards extremist religious values.”
The Pakistanis blame terrorism for sending the international cricket packing from Pakistan This reality says sports experts is a partial truth.
“The whole truth lies in the fact that the government has grown insensitive to the sports needs of its people with the result that no serious effort is being made to revive international cricket in Pakistan,” said the former skipper.
“What signals are we sending to the international stakeholders by our unprofessional attitude towards domestic cricket? We have destroyed domestic cricket. It is a common practice in civilized countries to build sports facilities such as parks etc. in every locality. In Pakistan, we do not care for such things. In fact, we have destroyed the sports infrastructure and today we find high-rise building constructed on playing fields,” said Miandad
Pakistan was, however, successful in getting the Zimbabwe Cricket team to Pakistan in 2015. The episode went fine since the suicide attack perpetrated to mar the matches was hushed up both by the police and the media.
“The Zimbabwe team came to Pakistan not because we worked on confidence building measures with the ICC or other foreign countries. In fact, my sources told me that we had paid 12,500 dollars to each Zimbabwean player,” said Muhammad Ali senior sports analyst working as Sports Editor in Daily Times, Lahore.
When asked as to why our assurances on providing foolproof security to the visiting cricket team runaground, Ali said it was so because people did not trust us. He added that people abroad knew that the sympathizers of terrorists infiltrate our law enforcement agencies. “We had a long way to go. Before we aspire revival of international cricket in Pakistan, we need to organize our affairs by not only eliminating terrorism but also by strengthening the domestic cricket,” said Ali. It was unusual to find most of the senior members of the PCB refusing to give their point of view on the revival of international cricket or Pakistan government’s effort in this regard. Zaheer Abbas, who is representing Pakistan on the ICC as its president for the year 2015-16, even declined to talk about efforts he has made to this end.
Such opacity in cricket, says experts is beyond comprehension and send signals of disorientation among the cricket gurus regarding cricketing in Pakistan.
News Lens Pakistan, however, succeeded in persuading Intikhab Alam, Manager Pakistan National Team, to talk about the issue.
He agreed that PSL should have been played in Pakistan but revealed in the same breath that reviving International Cricket would be an uphill task for the government. Nevertheless, he said that we should keep working on it and strive to make Pakistan a safe country.
In another remark, Alam told News Lens Pakistan about the agony the players went through because of playing continuously in foreign countries. He said our cricketers are spending more time aboard, away from their families, which had affected their performance. These are not easy times for Pakistan cricket, he deplored.
“Pakistan cricket and that includes under 19 as well, would not perform unless the domestic condition is not made conducive for the international players,” said Alam. He, however, declined to offer any solution saying this was not his job.
The PCB has been accused of unethical practices in the past especially of hiring wrong people at the highest job or failing to take the advantage of the professionals working in the organization.
Javed Miandad threw a hundred percent weight to this allegation and said that what Najam Sethi, the former Chairman PCB and existing Chairman PSL, knows about cricket. He argued that Najam could be a good analyst, but he does not qualify to be a cricket guru.
“If the PCB is not hiring the right man for the right job and has failed to take advantage of the professionals it had in its arsenal then one must understand that the body needs reorientation,” said Miandad.