- The momentum should continue
The holding of the PSL tournament in Pakistan should have been a matter of routine. However, the fact that it took until the fifth tournament to be held entirely at home, is an indication of the long journey, probably still not over, Pakistan has had to make to convince the world that it is safe for international cricket. Pakistan is not the only Test-playing country to have been a victim of terrorism. There have been fatal terrorist incidents in Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, India, New Zealand and England, but Pakistan remains the only country where a Test team has actually been attacked, as the Sri Lankan team was back in 2009. That led to a blanket refusal to visit Pakistan by all, which was only ended by a plucky Zimbabwe toured Pakistan in 2016 for a T20I series. However, Test cricket only resumed when Sri Lanka came last year for a two-Test series. It was followed this year by Bangladesh, that has not yet completed a Test series.
The PSL began in Dubai, where the first two editions were held entirely. Only in 2018 was the final first staged in Lahore, and last year in Karachi. For the first time, the entire tournament is being held in Pakistan. It is the only tournament with overseas players, the other domestic tournaments being entirely staffed by local players. Overseas players have opted out over safety concerns, so the participation of overseas players not only treats the fans of the game to the sight of such players, who have never played here for their country, but it also shows that Pakistan is safe for the game. Though the security has often been heavy-handed, it has also shown that crowds are also safe. This has been a grave concern, especially after attacks on European football crowds.
Full credit must be given to the previous PCB management for having soldiered on, but the present PCB management must follow up not just by having the entire PSL held in Pakistan, but by having foreign teams visit. And not just regional teams like Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, but top-ranked teams like England or Australia. In that context, South Africa’s decision to cancel its tour must be accounted a setback in what has been so far a story of steady progress back from the bottom of the abyss.