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The Revival of International Cricket: A topic that is very close to the heart of every Pakistani. Being a cricket-loving nation, it was a massive setback for the fans to face a cricket drought for many years. People missed the environment of enjoying a cricket match at stadium – That uproar of excitement, the thumping sound of empty bottles hitting against the stadium chairs, cheering for your favorite players, taking autographs and clicking selfies between the quick breaks, and many more things – The excitement of Pakistani fans is something that cannot be contained in words.
The Pakistan and Pakistan cricket board government has worked hard to bring the international cricket aura back to Pakistan. But, all of the efforts went in vain when New Zealand recently canceled a tour due to some non-existent security threat.
Many dreams were shattered, and the built-linger several years of hard work seemed to deteriorate. The terrible rates of the 2009 terrorist attack still linger. Still, players think twice before visiting Pakistan. The events of March 4, 2009, closed doors on Pakistan to host international cricket or any other major sporting event. More importantly, it devoid enthusiastic Pakistan Cricket fans patronize their national cricket team in live-action. As international cricket teams decline to play in Pakistan, UAE arranged an alternative venue to play Pakistan’s home matches, or what we call a neutral venue.
The Joyful Days circling the Revival of International Cricket
Amidst the soaring negativity that has surrounded Pakistan cricket. Let’s revisit some of the perfect moments of the revival when Pakistani fans celebrated the return of international cricket just like a child celebrates when he gets his favorite toy.
May 2015: Zimbabwe tour
Zimbabwe tour to Pakistan became one of the most extraordinary cricketing events in the nation. People rejoiced at the event and every person was genuinely happy about the return of the International Cricket. In over six years, Zimbabwe was the first team international team to visit Pakistan that played a pivotal role in the recovery of international cricket. Although Zimbabwe won the series, it was Pakistan that has won on the international level.
March 2017: The Final of Pakistan Super League
PCB took a huge leap of faith by inviting the international players to Lahore. Although many of them pulled out last minute, Pakistanis will forever remain grateful for those who visited Pakistan amid security concerns.
The final of PSL 2017 was played between Peshawar Zalmi and Quetta Gladiators at Gaddafi Stadium, Lahore. Dawid Malan, Marlon Samuels, Darren Sammy and Chris Jordan of Peshawar and Morne van Wyk, Sean Ervine and Rayad Emrit of Quetta traveled to Pakistan.
September 2017: World XI tour
Under the captainship of Faf du Plessis, the World XI squad visited Pakistan that includes; Tamim Iqbal, Hashim Amla, Tim Paine, David Miller, Grant Elliott, Thisara Perera, Sammy, Ben Cutting, Morne Morkel, Imran Tahir, Samuel Badree, Paul Collingwood and George Bailey.
It was a successful tour, and it marked a safe impression of Pakistan over the international lobby. The international cricketers landed the love and support they got from Pakistan. At the end of the tour, everyone declared that Pakistan is a very safe country and their people deserve to enjoy international cricket.
September 2017: Sri Lanka tour to Pakistan
The team that was attacked in 2009 returned to Lahore to play one T20 game. In cricketing language, it was what we call “out of the park shot” that left a positive mark on the cricketing fraternity. A team that was targeted returned to play at the same spot without any fear, the amount of trust Sri Lankans has put on Pakistan cricket is uncanny.
March 2018: The big three games of PSL
Until now, all games were played at Lahore and it was about time to test a different venue.
Since a lot of international cricket activity was already in play so players also didn’t hesitate to experiment at a different venue. The last three games were of PSL were shifted to Pakistan – Two matches in Lahore and the finale in Karachi.
This time other prominent names that visited Pakistan include; Andre Fletcher, Liam Dawson, Luke Ronchi, Chadwick Walton, JP Duminy, and Samit Patel, apart from Sammy and Jordan.
April 2018: West Indies and Sri Lanka Tour to Pakistan
Due to the immense efforts of PCB, West Indies and Srilankan cricket teams toured Pakistan for a full-fledged series, and it all happened without any security glitch. Both tours remained successful, and they marked the beginning of a new era of international cricket.
March 2019: Pakistan Super League
The final eight matches of PSL were shifted to Karachi. Shane Watson, Colin Munro, Dwayne Bravo, Darren Sammy, and Kieron Pollard were among the eminent names that graced Pakistani Cricket.
January 2021: South Africa visit Pakistan
After almost 19 years, the South Africa team visited Pakistan. The tour comprises two test matches at Karachi and Rawalpindi, followed by a three-match Twenty20 series at Lahore.
The tour was a big success, and yet again, Pakistan trashed the security concerns in the face of terrorism.
17 September 2021: The Black Day
Like all the previous tours speaks for themselves that Pakistan is no more a security threat. There comes the NZ tour – a highly anticipated and hugely celebrated series; it is finally the showtime when all the efforts and hard work were giving fruitful results.
NZ team landed in Islamabad with high spirits. They were given state-level security, and the players also seem satisfied with the security arrangements. At the last minute, NZ abruptly abandoned their tour, citing a security alert.
The statement from Blackcaps reads was, “Following an escalation in the New Zealand Government threat levels for Pakistan, and advice from NZC security advisors on the ground, it has been decided the BLACKCAPS will not continue with the tour.”
Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) quickly released its statement claiming “no security threat of any kind exists for the visiting team”.
A Cloud over England Tour
The English team was set to tour Pakistan next month but the recent incident has put a cloud over England’s tour. The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) has given itself “the next 24-48 hours” to decide whether the tour should proceed as planned or not.
Statements from the cricket fraternity and the chairman of PCB
Ramiz Raja, the chairman of PCB,I feel said, “Crazy day it has been! Feel so sorry for the fans and our players. Walking out of the tour by taking a unilateral approach to a security threat is very frustrating. Especially when it’s not shared!! Which world is NZ living in?? NZ will hear us at ICC.”
Babar Azam said, “Extremely disappointed on the abrupt postponement of the series, which could have brought the smiles back for millions of Pakistan Cricket Fans. I’ve full trust in the capabilities and credibility of our security agencies. They are our pride and always will be!”
The record-holder fast bowler, Shoaib Akhtar, said, “NZ just killed Pakistan cricket.”
Former West Indies captain Darren Sammy tweeted: “Disappointed waking up to the news of the cancellation of Pakistan vs New Zealand series because of security issues. Over the last six years playing and visiting Pakistan has been one of the most enjoyable experiences. I’ve always felt safe. This is a massive blow to Pakistan.”
Pakistan legend Wasim Akram tweeted: “Extremely disappointed in NZ choice to abandon the #PAKvNZ tour. Pakistan has proven that our security measures for international games are of the highest order, making Pakistan one of the safest places in the world to play cricket today. I feel we are not hearing the whole story.”
Personal views in light of the recent incident and the revival of international cricket
After several successful attempts, the end moment cancellation looks like a pre-planned plan to sabotage the efforts Pakistan has been making and to tarnish the global image of Pakistan. The revival of international cricket is tied to the heart and souls of millions of Pakistanis. An event like this is not at all welcomed when there was not any security threat as per the government’s claim. Meanwhile, the details of the threat were never disclosed on the media; the abrupt ending of the series remains a hoax, but it has done the damage. The next tour planned for England is still in jeopardy due to the ongoing deception, no. Anheartswhich is merely an imaginary situation being created on purpose to hamper Pakistan’s progress.
The previous successful events prove that Pakistan is a safe nation. Pakistanis are very loving and hospitable people, as indicated by almost every player or tourist who visits Pakistan. People say that childhood cannot return, but for once, I want to re-live those days where Wasim Akram and Kapil Dev casually hanging out at the Saddar market in Karachi. I want those days to return when Dermot Reeve enjoyed the camel ride in Karachi or a reunion of Indo-Pak players at Gaddafi Stadium. Moreover, I wish to witness the return of international cricket to my beautiful country.