LONDON: Pakistan was unable to earn the right to host a single International Cricket Council (ICC) event till at least 2023 and this reflects the chaotic and unorganised state of the country’s cricket board over the past 5 years.
The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) has utterly failed to have its position understood on the global stage.
I fail to understand how did Pakistan representatives go to a meeting and accept that the country won’t even be considered as hosts for another 10 years?
On the other hand, India has earned the sole right to host the 2023 ICC World Cup so this begs the question — how was it acceptable to Pakistan? The ICC allots an event to a region. Even the 2011 World Cup was awarded to the subcontinent before Pakistan was stripped of its hosting rights due to the attack on the visiting Sri Lankan team in 2009. At the recently-concluded ICC meetings, PCB should have strongly objected to the allocation of the 2023 World Cup solely to India and registered its concern over the lack of transparency and reserved rights to re-open this matter.
It’s unfathomable to imagine that Pakistan attended the annual conference and not asked for hosting rights for any ICC event in the coming 10 years.
This development reflects the sad state of affairs within the PCB. The body has been dysfunctional and there has been no strategic planning or a roadmap to bring back international cricket to Pakistan. The bottomline is that no progress has been made since the tragic attack on the Sri Lankan team.
They have basically adopted a hit-and-miss approach in asking various cricket boards to pity them and visit. This unprofessional attitude has put them in no-man’s land.
Suffice it to say that a 10-year window is a big one and the country’s internal security situation can and should change. But the officials just seem to be chasing after themselves.
Earning the right to host ICC events again is going to be a painfully slow process — because it’s about trust-building and confidence.
For international cricket to come back, security benchmarks need to be agreed with the ICC. Close liaison between the ICC Security Unit and the Pakistan government should have been developed to ensure safety and security of visiting players. The ICC, the sport’s world governing body, has to have confidence in the assurances it receives from the PCB that security won’t be a problem.
However, the fact that the PCB just took this latest development lightly is unacceptable. They could have asked for a cut-off deadline, say by 2016 or 2017, to satisfy the ICC and the other cricket boards that Pakistan was safe to host international matches and ICC events.
As followers of cricket, we’re obviously saddened by the development. Fans will not see a World Cup in Pakistan for at least another 22 years. Under the ICC rules, every third World Cup will be played in Asia — the next one in the region will be 12 years after the 2023 one.
I would strongly urge the PCB not to accept this but to argue its position in a professional manner; ask for time and assure the ICC members that it would only hold an ICC event in Pakistan if it was convinced that Pakistan was safe. To do this in a credible manner we first need to admit the reality that it would be irresponsible to bring a team to Pakistan amid the present scenario.
I have great sympathy for Najam Sethi — he probably didn’t realise what he was getting into when he occupied the PCB chairman’s seat and certainly did not have time to fully understand the politics of the ICC.
Zaka Ashraf and Ijaz Butt [former PCB chairmen] must bear responsibility for Pakistan’s current predicament. The PCB, under their stewardship, did not have a cohesive plan to bring international cricket back to Pakistan and was unable to engage with the ICC, the government and the other boards in a meaningful and constructive way.
We will need to prove to the world that the country is becoming safer to host international players and the government will have to be fully committed to ensure that it happens. Sadly, other than giving sweeping statements, we’ve done nothing.
Assurances from the PCB have lacked credibility. It’s extremely disturbing that after the Sri Lankan team attack, no heads rolled. This conveyed our non-serious attitude to transparency and accepting responsibility for the security failures.
The PCB now needs to make a proper, long-term strategy in re-building trust with the ICC and the global community and while it’s going to be an excruciatingly long process, this is the only way to bring back international cricket.
The writer is a former ICC president
Published in The Express Tribune, July 1st, 2013.