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End of cricket in Pak?

Beneath the shock and widespread sympathy for those innocents caught in a heinous terrorist attack on the Sri Lankan team in Lahore there was a wider, equally painful theme.

india Updated: Mar 04, 2009 00:28 IST
Arjun Sen

Beneath the shock and widespread sympathy for those innocents caught in a heinous terrorist attack on the Sri Lankan team in Lahore there was a wider, equally painful theme.

International cricket in Pakistan is most certainly at an end. For how long no one can know. But it is difficult to see anyone risking a tour to the strife-torn nation for some years to come.

And though in not as many words, that seemed to be the sentiment among the administrators all over the cricketing world.

"We are deeply shocked at the events in Pakistan. It is a black day for the game and our prayers and thoughts are with the victims of this terror act," was what Australian Cricketers Association Chief Executive boss Paul Marsh had to tell the Hindustan Times.

Asked whether Tuesday's events would put Australia's series with Pakistan, scheduled for Abu Dhabi next month, Marsh said: "Security always has been of paramount importance for us on any tour, but yes, these events have undoubtedly put that series under the scanner just that little more.

"We will send independent security officers to the venues and will take a call on the series after detailed discussions with our government."

But it was what Marsh said about how Pakistan would be affected by these attacks that perhaps sums up the cricketing world's reaction.

"While it is too early to pass a judgment on the viability of Pakistan as a host, I think the decision will not be good for them."

The ECB's Head of Communications, Colin Gibson, too said something similar. "We deeply regret the events and our prayers with the victims. We do not want to comment on the future of the game in Pakistan right now, though," Gibson told HT.
South Africa coach Mickey Arthur, however, seemed in no mood for diplomacy.

"As far as Pakistan are concerned, I'm afraid this could mean the end of international cricket in that country for the foreseeable future," an irate Arthur told a press conference in Johannesburg.

"When we toured there in October 2007 it was quite obvious we were existing and trying to do something normal in a very abnormal situation," he added.

That anger seems justified, too.

This is the first time cricket and cricketers have been targeted so blatantly and that this attack happened on a country always viewed as a 'friend' to Pakistan only exacerbates matters.

Whether Pakistan will be a 'no-go' zone, only time and the ICC will tell, but the chances of anything apart from that eventuality seems highly unlikely.