Sri Lanka ended five-year isolation

Wednesday, 4 September 2019

The Pakistan Cricket Board under the leadership of former ICC president Ehsan Mani is trying their level best to woo international teams to tour the country and recommence playing Test cricket there, but the reaction to their invitations have not been so fruitful or as they would have liked not speedy enough.It’s been over a decade since the Sri Lanka cricket team bus was ambushed and fired upon by 12 gunmen near the Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore on March 3, 2009. Since that fateful day no international team had wanted to make a tour to Pakistan. There have been several attempts by the PCB to break the ice but with the exception of a few T20 internationals and ODIs played over a short period of time no full tours have taken place with Test matches.

Sri Lanka are scheduled to make a tour to Pakistan later this month but then again it is only for ODIs and T20Is, the Tests are to be played in the UAE in December. Since 2010 the UAE has become Pakistan’s home base for Test and other international fixtures.What Pakistan needs is to cultivate more goodwill with other nations through their Cricket Board to convince them to resume international tours to their country.Sri Lanka were placed in a similar situation 32 years ago in 1987 when during the height of the war with the Tamil Tigers a bomb blast at the Pettah bus stand left several people dead and resulted in the New Zealand cricket team who were in the country at the time aborting the tour after playing only one Test out of a scheduled three.

The repercussions it had on cricket in Sri Lanka were great. For the next five years no international team wanted to risk touring the country due to the security situation at the time and as a result the country went through a rather lean period in its cricket history.The ice was eventually broken by P Ian Pieris and S Skandakumar when they became president and secretary respectively of the Sri Lanka Cricket Board (as it was known then). They did a lot of ground work to get international tours started to Sri Lanka.Skandakumar was kind enough to roll back the years and explain how it all happened.“Ian and I had a challenge given the drought in domestic fixtures for almost four years. David Richards then CEO of ACB and I had a good relationship and also with Malcolm Gray the chairman. I shared with David my concerns before the ICC meeting (July 1991) and the need for someone to break the ice and firm a tour to give us a break as although the security situation had improved no one seemed willing to take the initiative.