Cricketing gamble

Perhaps one of the most significant events on this year’s cricket calendar unfolds this weekend.And it is not even an International Cricket Council-sanctioned undertaking.

Pakistan X1 captain Shahid Afridi (left) and International X1 skipper Sanath Jayasuriya (right) pose with the trophy. Dr. Mohammad Ali Shah is at centre.

A group of brave cricketers, including West Indians Alvin Kallicharran, Ricardo Powell, Adam Sanford and Jermaine Lawson, are in Pakistan as part of an effort to restore international cricket to that troubled nation known to be harbouring ground for extremists and terrorists.They are in Pakistan to play two limited overs games, with the knowledge that just three years ago Sri Lankan cricketers Thilan Samaraweera, Tharanga Paranavitana, Mahela Jayawardene, Kumar Sangakkara, Chaminda Vaas and Ajantha Mendis were either shot or received shrapnel injuries during a terrorists attack that left six Pakistani policemen and two civilians dead.

Ehsan Mani, the former ICC chief, feels that though the two matches to be played this weekend will boost Pakistan’s reputation as a viable host for international cricket again, they won’t be enough to convince Test teams to play in the country as yet.

The Pakistan Cricket Board has done little to get international teams back to Pakistan and indeed has disassociated itself from the games between a Pakistan select squad and the International X1.

The PCB has stressed that the games are unofficial and are unsanctioned, and have left Sindh sports minister Dr Mohammad Ali Shah to deal with most of the arrangements.

“I was disappointed to read that the PCB had disassociated itself from the matches; it appears that PCB is covering itself in case something goes wrong. This gives totally the wrong message. The PCB should have been very much involved, including assuring itself that adequate security arrangements are in place. It is disgraceful that the initiative to convince players to come to Pakistan is not being led by the PCB but by the Sindh government,” Mani said.

With 5 000 security personnel to be deployed to ensure the safety of the players at the Karachi National Stadium, the next 48 hours could determine the direction international cricket heads in Pakistan. (WG/Cricinfo)

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