by Trevor Chesterfield
You have feel for the average citizens of Pakistan. It is not their fault that their nation has lost the rights to hosting sixteen World Cup games in 2011.
They deserved better than this but those nightmare street scenes of Lahore on March 3 and caught on television are all too indelible to forget. Masked gunmen roaming the streets, looking for victims and Pakistan authorities trying to blame others while their own were senselessly slaughtered, collateral victims in already dysfunctional security system.
Security had been so disorganised that it allowed the perpetrators of the premeditated ambush to escape unimpeded in side streets. What has been done about trying to find those killers of six policemen and two civilians? Or who attempted to kill the Sri Lankan players and match officials. Nothing it seems.
Ijaz Butt and his discredited Pakistan Cricket Board cronies should have been warned how those horrendous incidents had seriously jeopardised their World Cup 2011 plans. Instead of transparency they used jingoistic vernacular to hide the flaws.
Little wonder faced with such overwhelming evidence that the International Cricket Council removed from the Pakistan Cricket Board the rights to host
While the PCB chairman Butt now tenaciously clings to power, his tenure has been seriously disfigured by a series of disasters. It would not, therefore, come as a surprise if he is booted from the position by a government already under growing pressures from Islamofascist groups and their fanatical followers.
As the Pakistan team prepare in Dubai for a series of limited overs internationals against Australia, their board had faced increasing pressure over the security problems that they are having a problem in handling. They couldn’t take either the honest criticism from match referee Chris Broad or umpires Simon Taufel and Steve Davis.
If you would recall, Yahaluweni, how on March 9 these files had a headline how ‘Butt and Javed Miandad dance to a flawed security tune’. Such has been the hubris from that episode that Butt has been told how his administration of the PCB has been a disaster. Not only has it lacked professional guidance, the incompetence of the Lahore security measures as opposed to those in Karachi, displayed a show of arrogance.
It not only left an international cricket team exposed, but also officials of the ICC in Broad, Taufel and Davis. Not only is it likely to happen again, but suicide bombers have become almost an everyday event in Pakistan as the government grapple with religious opposition to its rule of law.
Broad’s ‘sitting ducks’ report to the ICC along with Bayliss’ shocking revelations on the difference of the team’s security between Karachi and Lahore, would have not helped the PCB’s cause either. There are now 22 months to the start of the next World Cup; to remove it from Pakistan now makes sense than to wait until six months before the event and find that a foolproof security system is still not in place because of turmoil within the country.
Whatever plan the four Asian nations were supposed to have in place to protect Pakistan and their hosting sixteen of games, including a semi final, of the 2011 World Cup were brushed aside by factual evidence, not a presentation of a shaky pyramid financial style scheme about to collapse as all the funds had been spent.
As with the second edition of the Indian Premier League, the solution appears to be temporary refugee status. This time the United Arab Emirates offer about the only viable answer to Pakistan’s problems of hosting any CWC011 games. It is a sad state of affairs, for as my late friend Bob Woolmer explained, the streets of most Pakistan cities and towns is full of youngsters playing the game.
The Pakistan public would want to see their players and heroes in action and are now denied this opportunity. Yet, paradoxically, if the 1996 World Cup is a guide, they would turn up only for Pakistan games. Memory is of sitting watching Gary Kirsten score a brilliant century in a near empty stadium as South Africa played the United Arab Emirates (unfairly dismissed at the time by some as Pakistan A).
There is though a deeper concern about the future of the game in Pakistan; indeed, any sport that has international links. An email from a long-time colleague in Karachi suggests a growing fear that religious fanatics are adding to the problem. His concern is how children in some schools are being targeted by extremist Sunni followers telling them that playing cricket is wrong as it doesn’t allow time for prayer. Unless the militants are reeled in, what will emerged as Pakistan is another matter.
Where the ICC have erred is their decision to ignore the Indian Cricket League’s credentials. This on-going battle is eventually going to end up in court, and, as in the case of the Kerry Packer imbroglio creates a problem for the ICC as well as the bullies who run the Indian board.
Note: Prior permission has sought from the author before republication of the above article.