After the 2009 gun attack on Sri Lanka’s cricket team in Lahore, the doors seemed to have closed on international cricket being held in the country for a very long time. Sadly, but understandably, this continues to be the case despite the efforts of the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB). While there have been visits by teams such as Afghanistan and the Indian blind cricket team in recent times, Pakistani fans had long given up hope of seeing well-known international players in action on home soil any time soon. In this regard, the initiative taken by the Sindh sports minister of arranging two Twenty20 exhibition matches between a Pakistani team and the International World XI on October 20-21 in Karachi is a positive development.
Many will be quick to dismiss these matches as non-serious affairs, as the PCB has not endorsed them nor does the International World XI consist of any currently active major international stars. Naysayers will also point to the futility of this exercise if its aim is to create confidence among Test-playing nations in our ability to host international teams and provide them with foolproof security. However, just the fact that Pakistani fans will be witnessing some form of international cricket at home is a positive, even if it does not lead to official Test tours. One of the many negative fallouts of the 2009 attack was the price that Pakistan’s cricket fans paid in the form of being deprived of one of the very few forms of entertainment available in the country, i.e., watching the national team in action on home ground.
While these matches cannot substitute for full-fledged international cricket, they can be first of the many steps still needed before it can resume in Pakistan. Sadly, the fact is that until the dismal security situation improves, top Test teams will not visit these shores. So, until such time, initiatives of these kinds must be encouraged, if for nothing else, then just to somewhat satisfy the fans’ huge appetite for watching cricket on home soil.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 20th, 2012.
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