KARACHI - Former CEO Pakistan Cricket Board Arif Ali Khan Abbasi has described suspension of proposed Bangladesh’s brief cricket visit to Pakistan as “great let down” and said Pakistan should continue to make efforts to revive international cricket at home , instead of ruing over a bold opportunity lost.
He appreciated the bold initiative taken by the PCB to invite Bangladesh for a short visit which had seen the attack on the visiting Sri Lankan. He said he would not say selection of Lahore as a venue where attack had taken place was one reason that thwarted the tour but the PCB should have discussed the matter internally before selecting the venue.
He said he felt that there was some thing amiss when the BCB chief accepted the invitation. He said it was his feeling that the Bangladesh cricket chief had given personal assurance without taking into confidence other stake holders like players, the government and the BCB general body . Had full exercise been done at the BCB end things would not taken the unexpected turn. He advised the PCB to follow the “shining example” of Sri Lankan Cricket Board which succeeded in inviting foreign teams amidst the raging civil war without losing self confidence. Sri Lankan did not panic when things look bleak after some of the teams expressed doubts in visiting the Island nation and refused to shift home series on neutral venue. They stuck to their bold decision and some foreign teams supported their move. Pakistan on the other hand made the grave mistake of deciding to call off the New Zealand tour some years ago almost unilaterally and advised the Kiwis to leave Karachi immediately after a bomb blast occurred opposite intercontinental where the visitors were staying.
The officials of the then PCB should have personally convinced the New Zealanders that the security situation was not that bad to abandoned the last test at the National stadium.
He said the security officer of the New Zealand team who along with the manager and the match referee held a press conference after the blast had openly admitted that the blast was not aimed at his team. It was a good hint to grab and the PCB should have convinced the Kiwis to stay for the test. But the PCB panicked and dispatched the Kiwis to Dubai with first available flight. PCB for some unknown reasons chose to play future home series on offshore venues. That was the beginning of the isolation of Pakistan cricket.
Arif Abbasi who had taken bold initiative during the Kerry Packer era when top players were leaving national teams in hordes, in convincing the cricket boards that playing for Kerry Packer circus was not a sin, said Pakistan was caught in a tricky situation now and it had to be overcautious in taking moves in the future to invite foreign team. He said personal diplomacy and contacts made at the highest level and discussion with officials of various boards and contacts with influential individuals outside the cricket establishments should be applied in a circumspect manner to encourage teams to come to Pakistan.
He said there was no doubt that a Himalayan effort was needed to convince teams to come Pakistan but there were individuals and teams half willing to come to Pakistan. They only needed to be convinced personally to get a positive response.
He identified Zimbabwe as one of the team that should be approached and convinced. But it should be personal and individual diplomacy that could convince them, He said he disagreed with suggestion for setting up of a task force to persuade teams to come to Pakistan. What happened to the ICC task force which was tasked to help Pakistan, he asked.