Following a series of setbacks, Sri Lankan cricket fans are on a high after their team completed a 3-0 whitewash of Pakistan in their own backyard last week. Pakistan Cricket Board must be congratulated for putting up a splendid show as the six games in Lahore and Karachi were played in front of packed houses. A nation that has great admiration for the sport is overjoyed as international cricket is gradually returning to the country.
Sri Lanka’s cricketers who were in Pakistan got a first hand experience of what it means to be Donald Trump after they were provided with security that is usually accorded to heads of state.
Statements attributed to the hierarchy of Sri Lanka Cricket on security in Pakistan has left a bitter taste among most people in that country. SLC officials have literally ruled out playing the two match Test series in Pakistan and instead want to go to a neutral venue like UAE. SLC’s grumble is that there is too much security in Pakistan and the players are confined to their hotels and that it is difficult doing that over a longer duration.
One is intrigued. It is the SLC that requested military type security during the team’s stay in Pakistan. When the military takes over, they run it in their own style leaving no stone unturned in protecting the team. PCB has attracted lot of criticism from their own public as roads were closed when the team was on the move inconveniencing the general public.
Furthermore, the Sri Lankan team has been offered several sight seeing visits and off the field activities like playing golf and visiting shopping malls. The team management in return had requested to stay indoors and cancelled even official team dinners hosted by Chief Ministers. Having done all that, it is unfair for SLC to say that it is not ideal for the Test series to be played in Pakistan.
Whatever the reservations SLC had, that should have been conveyed across the table rather than putting them out in public domain.
It is also unfair for SLC to expect them to be hosted in UAE rather than Pakistan. This is Pakistan’s home series and playing at neutral venues is costing PCB an arm and a leg. For a day, the cost of playing in UAE is said to be over 250,000 US$.
Pakistan has been Sri Lanka’s biggest ally when it comes to cricket. As old timers like former Board Secretary Neil Perera says, SLC wouldn’t have got Test status in 1981 if not for the efforts of Abdul Hafeez Kardar, Pakistan’s first ever Test captain and later the President of the cricket board.
Pakistan players generous gesture of coming to Colombo less than a month after the Central Bank bombing in 1996 to play a friendly match alongside several Indian players went a long way in saving Sri Lanka from cricket isolation.
PCB was the first board to send a cricket team to Sri Lanka soon after the Easter Sunday bombings. A week after the April 21st carnage, Pakistan Under-19 team visited the island.
A friendly approach is what is required towards a loyal friend. Not barking up the wrong tree.