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Another lost opportunity for cricket revival in Pakistan


A cricket revival in Pakistan should have been on the cards but the PSL being suspended due to Covid-19 has set the PCB back.
Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chief selector Mohammad Waseem speaks during a press conference in Lahore on January 31, 2021. (Photo by Arif ALI / AFP) (Photo by ARIF ALI/AFP via Getty Images)

Pakistan Super League failure

The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) are yet again under the radar for their mismanagement in conducting the Pakistan Super League (PSL) season 6. The tournament has now been postponed, after several players tested positive for COVID-19 virus. Another opportunity to start the cricket revival in Pakistan has been lost.

The blame of this failure cannot be put solely on the PCB, as many players and team managements were found ignorant of the COVID-19 SOPs. Nevertheless, the price of this will have to be paid by Pakistan cricket fans, many of whom have waited several years to watch a cricket revival in Pakistan.

A brief timeline

2002

Far before the attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team in 2009 in Lahore, safety had been a serious concern for any visiting side in Pakistan. In 2002, New Zealand abandoned their tour after a suicide attack outside their hotel. Many other teams refused to visit Pakistan. Australia also abandoned their tour in 2002.

2009

The events finally culminated in the attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team in 2009. This attack resulted in the end of international cricket in Pakistan. Several efforts were made by PCB to revive international cricket but all were in vain. Countries did not want to travel to Pakistan as the risk of threat was too high.

2015

After a long wait of 6 years, Zimbabwe became the first team to visit Pakistan in 2015 in an effort to kick start the cricket revival in Pakistan.

2020

Initial versions of the PSL were completely held in UAE. Afterwards, the later versions were partially held in UAE and partially in Pakistan. Finally, after five years of building trust, PSL 5 was the first season that was held entirely in Pakistan.

2021

Similar to PSL 5, PSL 6 was to be completely conducted in Pakistan. However, PSL 6 has now been postponed due to seven players who have tested positive for COVID-19 virus.

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Lapses in the event

The following are the major lapses that resulted in the smooth conduct of the PSL season 6:

  1. It all started when Wahab Riaz and Darren Sammy met Javed Afridi and broke the bio-secure bubble on the 20th of February. However, the two were allowed to join back without being forced to serve the quarantine period of 3 days. That actually sat a terrible precedent for the rest of the players.
  2. The PCB management had not booked the entire hotel for the tournament. Furthermore, players were allowed to mix with the guests.
  3. Foreigners players were asked to quarantine for only 3 days instead of the standard 14 days.

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Peshawar Zalmi’s Wahab Riaz (C) celebrates with teammates after taking the wicket of Islamabad United’s Paul Stirling (not pictured) during the Pakistan Super League (PSL) T20 cricket match between Islamabad United and Peshawar Zalmi at the National Stadium in Karachi on February 27, 2021. (Photo by Asif HASSAN / AFP) (Photo by ASIF HASSAN/AFP via Getty Images)

Repercussions

Every crisis brings an opportunity. COVID-19 had actually provided an opportunity of smooth revival of cricket in Pakistan. As during the pandemic, the teams visiting any other country have to restrict their movement and are not allowed to meet anyone outside their biosecure bubble along with a limited crowd allowed to attend the match, hence this makes the provision of security much easier task for the management.

Therefore, that was a golden opportunity for the PCB to rebuild their lost trust and convince big teams to visit Pakistan again. Unfortunately, the PSL failure has wasted a lot of the effort that has been made since 2009, in reviving international cricket in Pakistan. As a result, it would now be extremely difficult to convince international sides, regarding their concern of players’ health.

Hence, the PSL 6 failure is equivalent to the wastage of years of effort of trust building for revival of international cricket in Pakistan.

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