Hopes for West Indies tour to Pakistan still alive despite FICA report

The hopes of West Indies’ visit to Pakistan are still alive despite the report issued by Federation of International Cricketers’ Associations (FICA) in which foreign players have been warned not to visit Pakistan.

The President of the Trinidad and Tobago Cricket Board (TTCB) Azim Bassarath has said that the team may visit Pakistan if security is guaranteed by Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB).

However, the ultimate decision will be taken by the West Indies Cricket Board officials who will come to Pakistan to check the security situation.

Azim Bassarath said, “In my opinion, because the Pakistan Cricket Board can guarantee the security of the players and officials, we may still have cricket there.”

“This is a very sensitive issue and we have a team going across there to look at the situation for us,” said Bassarath.

“Our operations manager Roland Holder and head of security Paul Slowe will most likely be on that team and would report back to us.

“Despite the concerns cited by FICA, we will depend on what our team tells us,” he added.

Pakistan are hoping to host two Twenty20 internationals versus the West Indies at Gaddafi Stadium Lahore.

Earlier, PCB said that FICA had done great disservice to the cause of cricket in general and Pakistan cricket in particular by advising overseas players not to play in the Pakistan Super League (PSL) Final in Lahore next March because of “security reasons.”

FICA cited unnamed “expert security consultants” for “updated security advice” that claimed Pakistan is “at an extremely elevated state of insecurity.”

A PCB spokesman said in a statement afterwards that it was a careless and cavalier approach to an issue of great importance.

FICA, he said, “sits thousands of miles away from Pakistan and cannot name even one credible security expert, yet makes a sweeping negative statement about the security situation in Lahore.”

The FICA’s claim that “westerners and luxury hotels have been attacked” was contrary to the facts on the ground that proved that not a single foreigner or hotel had been attacked in Lahore in the last five years, the spokesman added.

“FICA’s claim that ‘targeted attacks’ are predicted to continue is belied by the fact that Lahore is the showpiece of the government that has secured the services of UK-based ‘Safe City’ security project,” he said.

The PCB, he said, had recently hosted Kenya, Zimbabwe, Bangladesh (Women), Afghanistan and Malaysian national cricket teams in Lahore and Karachi without any problem.

In the case of PSL Final in Lahore for one day, he added, the government had guaranteed protection by over 3000 army and police personnel in the city. The PCB would provide armoured buses for travel along with VVIP security protocols, he added.

The spokesman said a group of foreign players, including Jonty Rhodes, Brain Lara, Curtly Ambrose, Glenn McGrath, Dean Jones, Mark Butcher, Marvin Atapatu, Herschelle Gibbs, Damien Martyn, Andy Roberts, Danny Morrison, Sanath Jayasuriya, Andrew Symonds, Ajay Jadeja, Robin Smith, Cameron Delport etc were regular visitors to Pakistan on assignment with Pakistan Television and were available to vouchsafe the safety and security of foreign cricketers in the country.

“The PSL has already received confirmation from top international players to play in Lahore and PCB is determined to bring cricket home to Pakistan,” he added.

From the security measure being taken for the final of PSL, it can be seen that security of the West Indies team will also be foolproof, and hopes should be kept alive that the West Indies Cricket Board officials would allow their team to tour Pakistan.