Renovation work at Gadaffi Stadium; selectors meeting to discuss squad; the tussle between Punjab government and Federal government over security arrangements; fans planning their week and national cricketers hoping to finally make their long-awaited home debut.
All that will take a back seat, again, after the Bangladesh Cricket Board, following a yes, maybe, no and yes have finally said no to the tour of Pakistan, being forced by the Dhaka High Court (DHC) that set a four-week embargo on the national team’s plans.
The Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) had confirmed the tour on Sunday, comprising one One-Day International and one Twenty20 to be played on April 29 and 30 in Lahore. However, the DHC forced the postponement after a writ petition was filed to challenge the tour, citing security threat to the visitors.
Apart from BCB President Mustafa Kamal, who promised to send his team, the tour was not welcomed by other Bangladesh board officials with reports saying that even its players were reluctant to tour. Outgoing head coach Stuart Law, too, cited his reluctance while adding that most players around the players did not want to go to Pakistan.
The petition was filed by a teacher and a lawyer pleading uncertainty on the security of the players and team officials. According to reports, the petitioner argued that the PCB failed to deliver its security plan to the International Cricket Council (ICC) and maintained that Pakistan was not safe for foreign teams – a notion he backed up by media reports in Pakistan – and asked for the tour to be scrapped.
The court, following the petition, issued the injunctive order and asked the BCB President, Bangladesh sports secretary and their National Sports Council to justify the decision on Pakistan.
PCB disgruntled on
The PCB, which was close to finalising preparations for the series, left disappointed with the decision and reacted strongly to the late u-turn.
Apart from the renovation work at the stadium, the players were undergoing practice sessions and tickets for the matches had gone to the printers. And, as the developments were taking place, the PCB selection committee was in the process of finalising squads for the matches after consultation with coach Dav Whatmore and captain Misbahul Haq.
“We had formed a comprehensive security plan and had submitted it to the ICC,” a PCB official told The Express Tribune. “The PCB chairman and the COO met top interior ministry officials today to discuss security issues. The renovation work is almost finished and we even ordered printing of tickets which were supposed to go on sale next week. The PCB wasn’t leaving any stone unturned to make the tour truly successful.
“The selection committee had also finalised the squad after thorough discussion but the announcement had to be deferred till the situation became clearer. The PCB, as well as the players, were excited about the tour but it ended in disappointment for all.”
According to the PCB’s security plans, around 2,000 security officials were to be deployed along the route of travel as well as 1,500 police officials at the venue. Dozens of officials were to be assigned on the roof and nearby buildings while patrolling by the equal number of police officials was also planned.
PCB still optimistic over tour
While the tour is highly unlikely to take place given the turn of events, a section of the PCB is still hoping Bangladesh will come and play the promised matches.
“The court can be convinced over the tour,” said the official.
“The objections raised by the petitioner are weak. He questioned the absence of the security plan but that has already been sent to the ICC. The security apprehensions are also not true which was proved by the successful tour of the British universities’ side. It all depends how the defendants fight the case. Since the tour is just three days, it can happen before the Pakistan team tours Sri Lanka.”
What the Bangladesh Cricket Board said:
The BCB has been notified of a writ petition filed today [Thursday]with the Honourable High Court Division of the Supreme Court challenging Bangladesh national cricket team’s tour to Pakistan and the subsequent stay-order of four weeks issued by the court.
Because of this ruling from the court, the BCB is not in a position to commit to the tour of Pakistan on the dates agreed [April 28 - May 01] recently by the BCB and the PCB. This has been communicated to the PCB and the International Cricket Council.
How the Pakistan Cricket Board reacted:
The PCB notes with extreme concern that the DHC has issued an injunctive order against the Pakistan tour.
It’s astonishing to note that a matter lacking any legal issue has been dragged into the court by petitioners who appear to have vested interests and want to jeopardise Pakistan-Bangladesh cricketing relations.
The matter before the court doesn’t contain any legal issue and is extremely disturbing to note that such an adverse order has been passed to block a bilateral cricket series.
The PCB has been extremely disappointed due to the creation of this new situation.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 20th, 2012.