We don’t want to risk terrorist attacks in stadiums: Shaharyar Khan
Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chairman Shaharyar Khan on Saturday said that the board does not want to take a risk by hosting a series on home soil given the prevailing security situation in the country.
In an interview with PakPassion.net, the 82-year-old said that the hesitance in conducting a home series was not only from foreign teams but also from the PCB as well. “We do not want to take a risk in which a large crowd gathered in a stadium could be subject to a terrorist attack,” he said. “The hesitation is not just from other teams, it is partly from our own people too who feel that this is a ready-made target for terrorists to disrupt and to create a negative impact on Pakistan’s integrity.”
However, the chairman also said that the board is still making efforts towards returning international cricket to Pakistan by approaching associate teams like Ireland, Scotland, and Kenya for a home tour. “We want international cricket to return, and there are teams willing to make the trip to Pakistan, but we are a little hesitant at the moment until the air clears for a foreign team to come and visit,” he said.
He added: “We already have associate countries like Ireland, Scotland and Kenya eager to tour Pakistan. We also have other teams like the Australia Army team who have visited us before and are planning to come again later this year.”
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On March 3, 2009, a bus carrying the Sri Lankan cricket team was attacked with AK-47 rifles and grenades at Liberty Chowk near Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore. Seven players and an assistant coach were wounded while eight Pakistanis were also killed in the attack.
Since then, United Arab Emirates has been hosting majority of Pakistan’s home series, with only Afghanistan and Zimbabwe visiting Pakistan for one series each.
Recently, the board considered shifting the September-October home series against the West Indies from the UAE to Sri Lanka due to the soaring cost of playing in the Middle East, however, the proposal fell through because of the upcoming monsoon season which would have endangered the matches in the island nation. Nevertheless, the chairman maintained that the board will still hold on to the option of playing a home series in Sri Lanka in the future.
Financial burden due to lack of Pakistan-India series
Shaharyar Khan lamented the fact that a Pakistan-India series failed to materialise last year, even though both sides had initially agreed on it in 2014. He added that this increased the financial burden on the board.
“Pakistan-India series would have been a very lucrative series as the encounters between both nations attract a lot more international attention and financing compared to other series, even more than the Ashes,” he said.
“However, the Indian side did not permit for a bilateral series and as a result, it went down the drain with huge financial implications for us,” he added.
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The PCB is expected to approach this subject in the upcoming International Cricket Council (ICC) meeting.
Leaks of confidential information
The PCB chairman further said that the board is doing everything in its power to curtail information leaks to the media which has created problems for the board and the players in the past.
“We have already instructed all members of the team not to interact with the media without prior permission or without any supervision,” he said.
“However, many of these leaks come from players themselves, so we are trying to prevent this by stopping all unnecessary contact via social media or telephones with the media who are always trying to find out more information from these players,” he added.
Recently, a report by Waqar Younis about Pakistan team’s poor performance in the Asia Cup and World T20 was leaked to the media. The former head coach later said that his working relationship with former T20I captain Shahid Afridi was ruined after PCB prevented his scathing report from being leaked.
Pakistan tour of England
The 82-year-old said that Pakistan’s upcoming tour of England will bring nothing but goodwill for Pakistan cricket. He also said that he fully supports Pakistan Test captain Misbahul Haq and newly-appointed head coach Mickey Arthur to take charge of the national team and improve the rankings in all formats of the game.
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The tour of England will begin with four Test matches starting next month, with the first match being played at Lord’s cricket ground in London on July 14. Prior to that, the national side also already started its two-week training camp in Hampshire to acclimatise themselves to playing conditions in England.