Outraged by South Africa captain Graeme Smith’s opposition to the idea of having a tri-nation one-day series with Pakistan to compensate for the postponed Champions Trophy, the Pakistan Cricket Board said foreign players have been "insensitive" towards the strife-torn country’s problems.
“We graciously accepted the postponement of the tournament which is a big setback to our cricket because players raised a hue and cry over the security. But it seems as if these players just don’t understand the problems being faced by us,” one senior official said.
Smith said it would not be in the best interest of the team to play an unscheduled series at home against Pakistan next month as the team had many injury problems that needed to be put right before a packed season.
Pakistan has spoken to the Cricket South Africa to organise the series next month and apparently also got a favourable response from Sri Lanka but a senior official admitted lot of things needed to be finalised, including sponsorship and broadcasters for the proposed series.
“We are trying to play cricket anywhere. If we organise a tournament in Pakistan, India, West Indies and Sri Lanka will be available to tour as they said they had no issues on playing in Pakistan.
“India is coming to play in Pakistan in January and want their players to rest due to the postponement of the CT so India can be ruled out. We will be playing West Indies in a bilateral three-match series in November in Abu Dhabi so inviting them was out of question.
“We still have Sri Lanka as an option but we have asked a couple of nations to invite us in writing,” Shafqat Naghmi, the chief operating officer of the board, said.
“We have received favourable response from one of these nations and we are awaiting the response of their sponsors for a one-day series. It can be a bilateral series, a tri-nation or even a quadrangular, we don’t know but we are hopeful of getting cricket next month,” Naghmi added.
Qasim hits out
Some former players have also hit out at what they think is hypocrisy of some foreign players.
“Cricket Australia does not find it necessary to send a security outfit to India on a pre-inspection visit whereas India has also had problems with terrorist attacks in recent times,” former player Iqbal Qasim said.
“I think even these players know they can’t afford to offend the Indians because all the money now is coming from India. I would also love to see Graeme Smith’s response if India were in talks with South Africa to play a series next month instead of Pakistan,” he said.
Naghmi admitted that the PCB was under pressure from the cricket community to adopt a stronger line on security issues with teams refusing to play in Pakistan.
Decision in March
The ICC Executive Board will take a final decision on whether the Champions Trophy, which has been postponed till 2009, should remain in Pakistan or be relocated during a meeting in March next year.
Sources in the PCB said March is the deadline for confirming the venue of the tournament but has been postponed due to the security concerns raised by some teams.