Pakistan cannot host international cricket matches due to heightened risk faced by visiting teams since 2009.
The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) and players across all Pakistan team formats have faced issues since the late 2000s. Most of these problems have cost Pakistan any hosting rights to cricket matches, especially with major teams.
Let’s see the main reasons why Pakistan is unable to host international cricket matches and what PCB officials have been doing to restore normalcy to Pakistani cricket.
Why is Pakistan Unable to Host Cricket Matches?
Pre-2008 Hosting Issues Faced by the PCB
Many nations are reluctant to send players into Pakistan for cricket matches. The trend of attacks or threat warnings kicked off in May 2002 when a bomb exploded outside the New Zealand team hotel before a Test series. Australia refused to play Pakistan away from home due to security concerns after that.
2008 Mumbai Attacks
Terrorists invaded a hotel in Mumbai, India, killing over 160 people and injuring hundreds more. The attacks caused a serious rift between India and Pakistan across contact lines. Pakistan players were banned from playing in the Indian Premier League, and the Men in Blue are not allowed to play any match in a Pakistani venue.
2009 Attack on the Sri Lanka Team
Members of the Al-Qaeda affiliated Laskhar-e-Jhangvi launched an attack against the Sri Lankan cricket national team on March 3 2009. The attacks left several Sri Lankan cricketers injured and many police officers killed.
Theories about team movements to protect Pakistani players while exposing Sri Lankans to harm are still rife. Off-record conversations among foreign cricket boards in the aftermath of these attacks made international match hosting difficult for Pakistan.
The safety of players from other countries is a major reason why Pakistan still struggles to host cricket matches over a decade later. Most cricket boards do not believe Pakistan has the security infrastructure to prevent attacks on their players.
Few teams like Afghanistan and Zimbabwe have visited Pakistan for matches since that time, but under heightened security.
Recent Attempts by the PCB to Bring International Cricket Back to Pakistan
An Australian envoy visit to Pakistan
The PCB successfully hosted the Australian Higher Commissioner to Pakistan at their headquarters in Lahore on September 3 2012. This high-level meeting with an Australian official bordered mostly on the refusal of foreign teams to participate in any cricket match hosted in Pakistan.
Pleasantries were exchanged, a lot of nice things were said, but nothing concrete happened after that visit.
Meetings with the ACC
The Asian Cricket Council Development Committee (ACC) held a meeting with PCB officials in Islamabad in late September 2012. Zaka Ashraf, the then PCB chair, chaired this meeting. He used the meeting as an opportunity to call on cricket teams from all over Asia to compete with Pakistan at home grounds.
Members of the ACC at that time assured Ashraf and other PCB officials of support towards returning regional cricket to Pakistan in due time. The then chief of ACC, Syed Ashrafu Haq, also said he didn’t feel any major security concerns were plaguing Pakistan. He also said deliberations were in top gear to see international cricket return to Pakistan in the near future.
It’s been over a decade after that tooted meeting, but Pakistan still can’t host any meaningful international match on home turf.
ICC visit to the NCA
The then International Cricket Council (ICC) CEO, David Richardson, paid a visit to the National Cricket Academy (NCA) of Pakistan in January 2013. He believed the PCB was doing everything right to see international cricket matches return to Pakistan.
The ICC chair also believed it was everyone’s role to support PCB and other stakeholders to bring back international cricket matches whenever possible.
A whole decade has passed since that high-level meeting between ICC and PCB officials. There is still no concrete indication that cricket matches will return to Pakistan any time soon.
New Zealand and England cancel tours in Pakistan
The New Zealand senior cricket team visited Pakistan few years back for a pre-arranged tourney. However, the Kiwis would leave Pakistan without playing any match, citing security concerns.
England was also on schedule to play Pakistan at home but will later cancel their tour, citing players’ welfare as the reason.
Both withdrawals angered the PCB, and they have decided to cancel any arrangements to host matches on neutral venues going forward.
Pakistan has some of the most talented cricketers, but political issues have affected their international image negatively for more than a decade. The PCB has tried most methods to see international games hosted on home turf. However, the apprehension of opposing teams and foreign cricket boards makes the road to normalcy difficult for Pakistan