Pakistan anger at Bangladesh axing cricket tour

Bangladesh's decision to abandon visit 'inappropriate', says PCB, who may retaliate by banning their players from competing in BPL

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 02 January, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 02 January, 2013, 3:09am

Pakistan yesterday criticised Bangladesh's decision to abandon a planned cricket tour over security fears and threatened to bar its own players from playing in a Bangladeshi league.

The two nations were due to play Twenty20 and a one-day internationals in Lahore this month, pending security clearance. But on Monday Bangladesh shelved what would have been the first tour since militants wounded seven members of the Sri Lankan team and their assistant coach in Lahore in 2009.

Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) president Nazmul Hassan said the decision had been taken over fears for players' safety, following protests by Bangladeshis and a Facebook campaign against the tour.

But Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chairman Zaka Ashraf said last night that the decision was "inappropriate".

"The decision to tour was up to the BCB," Ashraf said. "We never forced Bangladesh, but to say the security situation was not conducive is inappropriate because their own delegation was satisfied with arrangements."

Hassan said on Monday the International Cricket Council did not reply to Bangladesh's repeated appeals to become involved in the planned tour.

"The situation in Pakistan is alarming. There are worries in the country [Bangladesh] over the proposed tour," Hassan said.

Ashraf said the Pakistani government had promised top-level security.

"We had promised the best security arrangements and were hosting matches in Lahore, which is very safe," Ashraf said. "An international eleven last year played matches in Karachi and there were no problems."

A provincial minister invited an All Stars XI, comprising former players including Sri Lanka's Sanath Jayasuriya and South African Andre Nel, who played two Twenty20s in Karachi. Players from the West Indies were also involved.

"A lot of cricket-related activity in which many international players have participated in the matches ... without any security issue whatsoever, which in itself reflects that the atmosphere in Pakistan is congenial for any international team to visit the country," the PCB said.

A high-profile security delegation - led by former BCB president Mustafa Kamal - visited Pakistan in March and appeared satisfied after they were briefed by Pakistan's security officials. However, the tour, scheduled for April, was postponed when the Bangladesh High Court ordered its cricket board to defer due to security concerns.

"They [the security delegation]left fully satisfied on the subject. Now it would only be proper for the new president of BCB to read the report submitted by that team or visit Pakistan before making any such comments on Pakistan's current situation," the PCB said.

Pakistan also supported the nomination of Kamal to the post of vice-president with the International Cricket Council and also sent its players to the inaugural Bangladesh Premier League (BPL).

"Even earlier BCB has agreed to tour Pakistan but was stopped by the Dhaka High Court, which in itself is the first ever incident in the history of the sport where a court intervened in the decision taken by two boards," the PCB said.

"Still PCB not only released its players for the BPL but also supported the nomination of then BCB president Mustafa Kamal for the position of vice-president of the ICC. It was because PCB made a commitment and wherever a commitment is made we honour it."

It warned that it may now bar its players from the second BPL, starting on January 17.

The BPL is the Bangladeshi answer to the Indian Premier League - the hugely popular Twenty20 tournament which has fused cricket with show business.

Last year, 20 Pakistanis featured in the Bangladesh tournament, with all-rounder Shahid Afridi fetching US$700,000 in an auction of stars - the highest amount bid. More than 50 Pakistanis have already been bought at an auction for this year.

"Now for the 2013 edition of BPL, we have to see the engagements of our players before releasing them for the tournament," the PCB said.

Anti-Pakistan sentiment still runs strong in the country, which was part of Pakistan until 1971 when it won independence after a nine-month war.

Agence France-Presse, Associated Press