While releasing the dates for the bilateral one day international series, Pakistan expressed disappointment over Cricket Australia’s refusal to bifurcate the series such that a part of it could be played in Pakistan soil. Do Pakistan have the right to feel aggrieved with Australia?
On the one hand, Pakistan seems to have little choice to accept that it will have to contend with having to continue playing away from their own home. On the other hand, it cannot put an embargo on the foreign cricketers who choose to come to Pakistan to play in Pakistan’s own Twenty20 tournament, the Pakistan Super League. Currently it is the only way Pakistan’s cricket public can see some of the international stars in action, even if some of these stars are either those who are making reparations or looking for one final attempt to catch the attention of their selectors back home. For Pakistan, it is only another opportunity to show not only the safety measures it has in place but also, expose the dual nature of the positions taken by cricket boards with regards to safety and security concerns of their players while their players are willing to play on Pakistan soil in individual capacity.
The Pakistan Super League has played home to players such as Steven Smith and Shane Watson and has become the only way that foreign cricketers are enticed to travel to Pakistan even though cricket boards have maintained that the players’ objections and the security reasons have stopped resumption of cricket in the country on bilateral terms. Pakistan had to step away from hosting the ICC Cricket World Cup in 2011 and also, has had to resort to other venues to play hosts on its behalf, taking a toll on cricket in their own country.
After the 2009 tour of Sri Lanka where the touring team was attacked by terrorists outside the Gaddafi stadium in Lahore, this after Sri Lanka stood in for India who refused to tour following the 26/11 attacks in Mumbai, Pakistan cricket has suffered for want of cricket in the region. Deprived of hosting duties, shunned by the rest of the world, Pakistan’s cricket loving public continue to wrestle with the reality even as the Pakistan Cricket Board has seen its coffers shrink miserably.
In that light, with a decade long isolation and forced to play in the Gulf countries as surrogate hosts as the only alternative, there was optimism expressed at the start of the year when Pakistan claimed to be in conversation with Australia to the point of hosting two or three matches on Pakistan soil and then shifting the rest to the Gulf. However, the schedule released of the tour came with the explicit suggestion that Cricket Australia did not comply with Pakistan’s request and for the moment, the status quo remains, this despite Pakistan playing host to tainted players such as Steven Smith who were using every loophole in their own home board’s one year ban for taking their cricket overseas, a fact that left many around the world baffled.