It is not easy being a Pakistan cricket fan. Trying to understand their plight while sitting elsewhere in the world would be a futile exercise.
Fancy your country being in cricketing isolation for over a decade, not being able to host an international match. It’s not just the pain of not being able to watch your national cricketers play in front of you, but also the shame that stems from the way the international community views the situation in the nation.
Pakistan’s international isolation began after the events of 2009 when the bus of the touring Sri Lankan side was attacked in Lahore. The way back wasn’t a bed of roses. The Pakistan Cricket Board and the Government of Pakistan had to work hard and use international relations to convince the other boards about the heightened security measures in the country.
After all the effort, international cricket returned to the cricket-fanatic nation in 2018 with West Indies traveling to Pakistan. It did not take Pakistan right back to where they were, but it was a start.
Only four teams visited the nation in the ensuing period of almost four years – Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Zimbabwe, and most recently, South Africa.
The tour of New Zealand to Pakistan was their first in 18 years. England are slated to tour the nation after a 16-year absence and Australia are scheduled to play there for the first time since 1998. It felt like things were moving in the right direction, at least till the eve of the first ODI against New Zealand.
New Zealand pulling out of the tour might have nullified Pakistan’s decade-long efforts
The drama unfolded minutes before the scheduled start of the first match of the series. People started to panic after the teams failed to reach the stadium in time for the toss. After a lot of speculation, New Zealand Cricket released a statement that they were abandoning the whole tour due to security concerns.
Reports have since come out about how the events played out. The PCB tried their best to get the series going, including an intervention from the Prime Minister himself, but it wasn’t sufficient to convince their counterparts to stay back.
It is unfair to judge the decision taken by New Zealand. There is no clarity as to the specific nature of the threat or why the decision was arrived upon. The safety of the players, after all, is of paramount importance.
The hasty nature of the series cancelation would point to something serious enough, but they have denied disclosing the details. However, one will wonder if the country’s highest authority would provide an assurance without having the situation under control.
Leaving all that aside, the whole event has put the immediate future of international cricket in jeopardy. It nullified the hard work that was put in over a decade to make Pakistan a destination for international matches.
New Zealand have not only denied the Pakistan public an opportunity to watch their players perform at their home, but have also put the tours by England and Australia under threat. A spokesperson of the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) has already confirmed that they will be considering the situation on the backdrop of New Zealand pulling out.
It may not be wrong to assume that the public of Pakistan would once again feel the shame they faced a decade ago, only with an added anguish this time. The least New Zealand could do is to apologize to the Pakistan public for the abrupt cancelation. Yes, they may not be at fault for canceling the tour, but they do owe an explanation to the fans of the country, because, ultimately, they are the ones largely affected by the whole fiasco. Complete silence from the visitors will only fuel the anger.
The views expressed in this article are of the writer and may not represent Sportskeeda’s views.