Mar 12, 2009

Bowling blind

With the Lahore attackers still on the run and no sign of their imminent capture, one might be forgiven for thinking it a little premature to be discussing the return of international cricket to Pakistan. Apparently not, if we are to believe the head of the Pakistan Cricket Board, Ejaz Butt, who was speaking to BBC Radio 5 Live. He said…"I'd expect tours to start again as soon as possible. I'd give it six to nine months (and) I definitely think that we will stage part of the World Cup in 2011." Brave words indeed. He went on to say that the matter was in the hands of the Pakistani government and that it was up to them to determine when the security situation had stabilized enough for touring cricket – or any other sport – to resume. "I would want us to get security to a level that would be a guarantee from my government that no such incident like this could happen again, or I will not invite anybody," he added. Elaborating, and perhaps trying to make sure he was not a future hostage to fortune he said… "Once I have this assurance I may then invite people to come here. But this can happen anywhere. I cannot give that guarantee, but my government can. If they cannot then we will not have cricket in Pakistan at all." His remark that "this can happen anywhere" is superficially true, but the sad reality is that it is more likely to be happening here these days than it is anywhere else in the world – and it is difficult to imagine a similar attack elsewhere where the attackers simply wandered off unhindered by the police or security services. The International Cricket Council chief Haroon Lorgat has backed Pakistan to host international games again, but he was not so incautious as to specify when that would happen. "We certainly don't want Pakistan to lose cricket," he said, adding…"I think cricket must go on. We must find the way and the means of doing that. I know they're suggesting, right now, to play Australia at neutral venues in the upcoming one-day series and I've said it before that I would rather they be playing cricket than not at all." He went on to question the 'rationality' of ICC match officials Chris Broad, Simon Taufel and Steve Davis who have been strongly critical of the security our government provided them with. Broad in particular was "extremely angry", claiming that the party "were promised high-level security and in our hour of need that security vanished". Indeed it did, though we must not forget that our own police died in the protection of Broad and Co. We hope that cricket does return to these shores. It is our national passion and we have rightly held centre-stage on many occasions, but we have often been ill-served by officials who govern the sport (and in recent years a few players as well). Now is not the time for Mr Butt to go bowling blind, and we would suggest a little more time be spent in the pavilion before taking a pitch that has considerable problems on the infield.

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