Future bleak for Pakistan cricket after attack

Updated: 03 March 2009 09:59 IST

A deadly attack on the Sri Lankan team bus on Tuesday damaged any chance of Pakistan hosting international cricket in the short term.


A deadly attack on the Sri Lankan team bus on Tuesday damaged any chance of Pakistan hosting international cricket in the short term and threatens its position as co-host of the 2011 World Cup.

It even jeopardizes Pakistan's chances of touring other countries, former national captain Inzamam-ul-Haq said, because potential hosts now had extra concerns about security.

A host of former Test cricketers said Pakistan's World Cup ambitions were virtually over.

"I don't see the International Cricket Council (ICC) now allowing the World Cup matches in Pakistan. It's gone," retired paceman Waqar Younis said. "It's a big tragedy something like this should have never happened."

Javed Miandad, a former national team captain and coach, said: "It is going to be very difficult for us to now convince teams that they can play the World Cup in Pakistan safely."

A dozen gunmen attacked the Sri Lankan team bus with rifles, grenades and rocket launchers as it traveled to the stadium for the third day of the second Test, wounding several players and killing six police officers and civilian.

The assailants ambushed the convoy carrying the squad and match officials at a traffic circle, triggering a 15-minute gun battle with police guarding the vehicles.

Chamara Ranavira, a spokesman for the Sri Lankan High Commission, said two players - Thilan Samaraweera and Tharanga Paranavitana - were being treated for injuries in hospital but were stable.

The Sri Lankan Cricket Board said Kumar Sangakkara, Ajantha Mendis, Suranka Lakmal, captain Mahela Jayawardene and Chaminda Vaas had minor injuries.

Inzamam said it was too early to speculate on ramifications for the next World Cup, due to be co-hosted by India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.

"Immediately we cannot assess the damage it has done to our cricket," he said. "The coming time will give us this idea. The World Cup preparatory meeting will start much earlier than the event itself and I think no team will be ready to play here."

Retired fast bowler Sarfraz Nawaz said the future of cricket in Pakistan was bleak, echoing Inzamam's fears.

"No team will even think to come to play in Pakistan after this attack and injuries to their cricketers," he said. "I am also fearing that other countries will be reluctant to even invite Pakistan for home series in fear that may open door for such terrorism to come to their country."

Sri Lanka accepted a late invitation for a two-Test series after Australia and India postponed tours due to security concerns. That allowed Pakistan to host its first Test matches in 14 months and was a payback in some way for Pakistan's support in 1996 when Australia and other countries had concern about traveling to Sri Lanka when the World Cup was last held in Asia.

The Champions Trophy, a competition featuring cricket's top eight teams scheduled for last September, was also postponed and moved from Pakistan after several countries expressed deep concerns about security.

"In a situation when no cricket team was ready to come to Pakistan, the Sri Lanka team was promised foolproof security of VVIP level and that promise was not kept," Nawaz said.

"This a security lapse and taking this responsibility governor of Punjab should resign."

Sports minister Pir Aftab Shah Jilani condemned the attack, saying the Sri Lankan team had come to Pakistan to help save its cricket after a year in the international wilderness.

"We are all in pain and the whole nation is in pain," Jilani said. "This was a crisis in cricket in Pakistan, and they came to rescue and we are all sorry for that."

The International Cricket Council was concerned that the situation which forced the cancellation of its second-biggest limited-overs tournament last September had come to reality.

"We note with dismay and regret the events of this morning in Lahore and we condemn this attack without reservation," ICC chief executive Haroon Lorgat said.

"It is a source of great sadness that there have been a number of fatalities in this attack and it is also very upsetting for the wider cricket family that some of the Sri Lanka players and one match official have been injured in this attack.

"At this time our thoughts and prayers are with the injured people and also the families of those who have died."

Lorgat confirmed that both national cricket boards had agreed to cancel the remainder of the tour and that all the players and officials were being evacuated "as safely and as quickly as possible."

"Until the full facts of the incident are established and the players and match officials have returned home safely, the ICC will make no further comment."

Topics : Cricket Sreesanth
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