England after 17 years

The T20 tour by England shows how much Pakistan has improved its hosting capacity

The England cricket team has arrived in Pakistan for the first time in 17 years, that last tour having come long before the fateful Sri Lanka 2009 tour in which the visitors were attacked in Lahore, leading to the end of international cricket in Pakistan, with England being hosted by Pakistan twice in the time since in the UAE. However, as the terrorist threat receded, cricket teams began visiting again, until last year, when New Zealand pulled out of a tour on the morning of the first match, because of a terrorist threat it claimed its intelligence had learnt of. England cancelled its own scheduled tour, but Australia went ahead with its, which passed without incident. England was persuaded to tour, for no less than seven T20 matches, with no ODIs or Tests. This makes sense considering that both teams are playing in the ICC T20 World Cup in October.

Pakistan has received further evidence that it can follow modern security protocols when visited by a foreign team. This may well provide reassurance to the visiting team, that the extreme danger of the Sri Lankan attack will not be repeated; when the bus driver was all that stood between the Sri Lankan team and a  further terrorist attack after the initial attempt. However, the complete shutdown of the city does not endear the game to the public, which experiences a major inconvenience. The irony is that many of those stuck in traffic are fans trying to get home to watch the match on television.

A bold out-of-the-box solution would be to provide visiting teams accommodation nearer the stadium. Some have said that space has been found in the Gaddafi Stadium premises. Provided that does not mean infringing on the right of others using it, like the other sports associations, it provides a workable, and more secure, solution. Five-star services can be provided by the concerned hotels acting as catering providers. The police and the military would not have to provide security through several miles of a crowded city, but only a few dozen yards within the same compound. However, that is for the future. Meanwhile, the country wants to sit back and enjoy the game.

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The Editorial Department of Pakistan Today can be contacted at: [email protected].

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