Shoaib Akthar admits that Pakistan is still unsafe to host international cricket
While the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) is desperate to host international teams on their own turf after bring forced to play their ‘home’ matches at the UAE following the terrorist attack on the visiting Sri Lankan team in 2009, former speedster Shoaib Akhtar feels that the security situation in Pakistan is still not feasible for the PCB’s wish to happen anytime soon.
The PCB had been contemplating staging a few matches in the second edition of the Pakistan Super League, which made its much-awaited debut in the UAE earlier this year, closer home this time around, and the PCB’s head of the PSL Najam Sethi had only a few days before made the announcement that the final of the second edition would be held in Lahore in February next year.
However, Akhtar feels that unless the government can guarantee foolproof security to foreign cricketers, the PCB shouldn’t even take the risk of planning to host any such matches in Pakistan. His comments follow the most recent high-profile terrorist attack on the police training centre in Quetta, the provincial capital of Balochistan, which resulted in the death of 62 police cadets and two army men as well as injuring around 170.
"Until there is a complete normalcy as far as the security situation is concerned we shouldn't take the risk of inviting any foreign team to Pakistan," he said on Geo News channel.
"The security situation is such that we will have to be patient. I am sure international cricket will return to Pakistan but it will take some time."
Zimbabwe remains the only international team to tour Pakistan since 2009 but even the short series in 2015 was marred by security concerns after a suicide blast near Lahore’s Gaddafi Stadium while the 2nd ODI was in progress. International cricketers such as Darren Sammy, Andre Russell, and Shane Watson, who were part of the inaugural edition of the PSL have also remained skeptical when queried about their views on touring Pakistan.
"It is like me going to Iraq based on what I have heard about Iraq. You are going to have nice places in Iraq. You are going to have nice places in Pakistan. I've seen pictures, beautiful places, beautiful people. But it is [about] what is surrounding [them]," Russel had said in February.
Despite missing home advantage, Pakistan have done well, at least in the Test format, even clinching the No 1 team ranking for the first time ever in its history. While skipper Misbah-ul-Haq will be hopeful of playing one final match on home soil before calling it quits, it seems the wait is only going to drag on unless the security situation in Pakistan, drastically improves.