Pakistan's ability to host international matches has taken a serious hit and the nation is in fear of isolation after the England and New Zealand teams abandoned their tours on security grounds.
Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) new chief Ramiz Raja's tenure didn't begin on the right note as the former cricketer-turned commentator lost his cool on England and New Zealand cricket boards (ECB and NZC) for pulling out of two back-to-back bilateral series right ahead of the T20 World Cup.
In ECB's and NZC's defence, historically Pakistan hasn't been the ideal place to visit. It has been close to 13 years since a serious lapse in Pakistan security agencies saw the touring Sri Lankan cricket team being attacked by armed terrorists in Lahore on March 3, 2009. Not to forget the 2002 bomb blast outside a hotel in Karachi where the New Zealand team was staying; forcing the Kiwis to rush back to their nation while abandoning the series midway.
The 2009 attack had a bigger impact as it led to no international cricket in Pakistan, often accused of harbouring terrorism, for a period of 10 years until Sri Lanka tour Pakistan again in September of 2019.
PCB hosted multiple series in Pakistan with South Africa being the latest to travel for a two-match Test series and three ODIs back in January 2021. However, most cricketing nations have been reluctant to tour Pakistan.
New Zealand were the first to pull out from a five-match T20 series scheduled later this month despite the assurance of players' safety from Pakistan PM Imran Khan to his New Zealand counterpart Jacinda Ardern.
England followed suit soon on similar ground, leaving Ramiz Raja fumed.
"This Western Bloc Gets United"
The PCB chairman then vented his anger on social media platforms, accusing 'the western bloc' of dumping the tours without proper talks.
"I am severely disappointed in England's withdrawal but it was expected because this western bloc gets united unfortunately and tries to back each other. So you can take any decision on the basis of security threat and perception. There was a sense of anger because first New Zealand got away without sharing information about the threat they were facing," he said.
In a video released by the PCB, the former Pakistan captain further expressed his disappointment.
"Release your frustration and anger by channeling it towards your performance. Take out your frustration in the coming World Cup by performing well," said the new PCB chief.
"Once you become a world-class team, people will start lining up to play. Everyone will want to play against you. So I want us to learn from this, move forward and keep strong. There is no need to be disappointed," he said.
“There’s a lot of pressure created on Pakistan cricket and (especially) Pakistan cricket at home.
“The fight to survive is the base on which we challenge the whole world. If such a situation is developed (again) when international cricket comes under pressure in Pakistan, we will challenge them once again,” he added.
Ramiz must have taken a sigh of relief when the British government on Wednesday claim they didn't advise the English board to cancel its men's and women's teams' tour of Pakistan on security grounds, the UK's High Commissioner here has said and promised to "redouble" efforts to make the T20 series happen in 2022.
Christian Turner, the British High Commissioner to Pakistan, said the ECB decided on its own to cancel the T20 tour next month and he shared the "deep sadness" of Pakistani fans.
"This was a decision made by the ECB, which is independent of the British government, based on concerns for player welfare," Turner said in a video on his Twitter handle. "The British High Commission supported the tour, did not advise against it on security grounds, and our travel advice for Pakistan has not changed."
However, with the reports of Australia being unwilling to travel to Pakistan for a full-fledged series next year doing rounds means the nation might not see international cricket for a while again and will dent the ambitions of Ramiz as the new chief.
(With inputs from PTI.)