PCB chief says outlook 'grim' for Pakistan
Pakistan cricket chief Ijaz Butt admitted chances of international cricket returning to his troubled country looked "grim" unless its security situation improved in coming months.Updated: Mar 04, 2009 18:19 IST
Pakistan cricket chief Ijaz Butt on Wednesday admitted chances of international cricket returning to his troubled country looked "grim" unless its security situation improved in coming months.
Tuesday's terrorist attacks on the Sri Lankan team bus -- which injured seven touring players and their assistant coach -- was a further setback for Pakistan cricket, making it virtually a no-go zone for international teams.
The attacks left six policemen dead and several people injured and forced the Sri Lankan team to abandon the second Test and return home.
New Zealand have already hinted they will not tour Pakistan in November-December this year and will instead consider playing at neutral venues.
Butt, chairman of the Pakistan Cricket Board, said the outlook was bleak.
"The chances of staging international cricket look grim," admitted Butt, who took over in October. "We have to analyse the security situation in the next six months or year before hoping for anything.
"If situation does not improve then it is not possible to host matches in Pakistan. If you are in the place of those teams and the International Cricket Council (ICC) you can assess that easily."
Between April 22 and May 7, Pakistan and Australia will play five one-day internationals and one Twenty20 series at the neutral venues of Dubai and United Arab Emirates, after Canberra refused to clear an Australian tour to Pakistan last year.
Australia are also due to tour Pakistan for Tests in 2010 -- but talks are already under way to play those matches at neutral venues as well.
Butt denied that New Zealand had conveyed its intentions not to tour Pakistan this year.
"New Zealand Cricket officials have condemned the attacks and sent a message of support and there is no hint of not touring
Pakistan," said Butt.
He also played down fears Pakistan would not host its matches in the 2011 World Cup, a tournament which it is scheduled to share with India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.
"There are still two years left until the World Cup 2011. We hope that security improves by the time the big event comes nearer," he said.
Butt paid tribute to Sri Lankan players, officials and government for supporting Pakistan in difficult times.
"Hats off to every Sri Lankan player. All of them made brave comments after the incident and even their president called our president and assured (him) of support," said Butt.
Butt defended security arrangements for Sri Lankan squad.
"The security level was very high, no one can point a finger against security arrangements," he said.
"I pay tribute to security personnel and the team bus driver for their brave acts and I have written a letter of praise to the police chief of Punjab."