Posted by: nestaquin | April 9, 2008

To Tour or Not to Tour?

When Cricket Australia’s head honcho James Sutherland declared to the public that the Australian cricket squad would not be attending their scheduled tour of Pakistan there was a sigh of relief around the continent.

Benazir Bhutto had been tragically and callously assassinated by cowardly opponents several weeks earlier after addressing a rally at Liaquat Bagh, a municipal park in Rawalpindi named in honour of Liaquat Ali Khan, the original prime minister of Pakistan, who was ironically assassinated in the same precinct.

This event cascaded throughout the Australian media and hardly an evening passed during the endless aridity of the southern summer without a report with associated bloody pictures of wailing women and a whisper of the dreaded, nameless, faceless phantom-like suicide bombers.

It was, after all, too easy for Cricket Australia to cancel the tour. The Australian Department of Foreign Affairs issued a severe travel warning to all visitors to Pakistan and public sentiment was, quite fairly despite the exaggerated hysteria, on the side of caution. That the ICC were unwilling to allow the scheduled Women’s World Cup to proceed on the hard, unforgiving grounds of Pakistan only reinforced the view.

Obviously, the atmosphere in the streets of Pakistan is one of calm. People drive to work, do the shopping, send their kids to school and go about their business as they always have. Yet, this reality is hardly discernible on the televisions, newspapers and radios of the West. The lens and pens are focussed entirely on the leaders and the popular and morbid fascination with death, destruction and martyrdom.

An Australian Test XI hasn’t set foot on Pakistan soil for a decade and although there are arguments in favour or not, and obvious questions of hypocrisy when you consider the bombings in London in 2005 and the perennial attacks within Indian cities, the question needs to be posed; Should our sportsmen be asked to represent their respective nations in a place where the national government warns vehemently against visiting?

Tomorrow: A review on the ODI series hastily arranged after Australia neglected their responsibilities to our cricketing brothers and sisters in Pakistan.


  1. Glad to know a sane mind exists in the West who knows whats actually going on in Pakistan.

  2. Also, nesta, it’s amazing how no-one seemed to be cancelling series, to The England, when the IRA were bombing every major city…

  3. To add to Suave’s comment – Australia were not hesitant in sending their A and U19 teams to the country last year.

  4. Yes all so true and I expect the ODI team will be there to defend the Champions trophy later on in 2008.

  5. I find this a real dilemma.

    Cricket has always been played in dangerous parts of the world – alas, there’s little chance of that changing in the near future. It is incumbent on the members of the “family of cricket” (yes, I did write that – think of the squabbles, the rows about money, but the ultimate mutual dependency) to do all it can to visit the relatives. But it’s hard to go against Government advice.

    There are other matters in play too – had I been good enough, I’d like to think that I would have gone anywhere to play cricket as a single man; but now I wouldn’t risk my kids being denied their father now.

    Finally, cricket really does matter on the sub-continent too, as the will to get the Autumn Test on at Galle post-tsunami and the extraordinary scenes of crowds greeting the T20 champions showed. It also matters because there are so few positive images of Pakistan (and, to some extent, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Zimbabwe and South Africa) in the mainstream media, that the balance cricket provides is really important.

  6. nestaquin – good to see your balanced viewes… I think you have posed the right questions. At wellpitched we are all in favor of Australians and others visiting Pakistan because a lack of competitive international cricket is really putting people off cricket here.

    Just one other thing – its up to you what you put on your blog :) But my only suggestion is that the picture of the mutilated leg in this post is very disturbing and not very respectful of the person it once used to belong to… anyways, just a thought.

  7. Suave, even at its most intense, the IRA campaign was never as consistently deadly as the terrorism that has been going on in Pakistan for the last year or so.

  8. Obaid,

    Thank you for contributing to 99.94 and I respect your input and compassionate view.

    I understand your concerns with the image and I do apologise wholeheartedly if it caused offence.

    Before choosing the photograph in question I gave it considerable thought and spent some time considering the fate of the unknown victim and his now long suffering family.

    I finally decided, somewhat hesitantly, to use it, not out of disrespect although I understand and acknowledge your argument, but because in the West the images we see of conflict are sanitised to such an extent that the absolute horror of war is hidden from view and as easily forgotten as last week’s weather report.

    I hope that readers of this article, just as you have, also have the heart and intelligence to take the time to consider the awful consequences and the obvious futility of solving conflict with organised violence.

  9. I walking towards Liverpool Street on a Saturday morning in 1992 when the IRA’s Bishopsgate bomb went off (actually, I was in a phone box calling the person I was supposed to be meeting). I saw a mushroom cloud over the Nat West Tower (as was) and felt that I had missed one, but that it was a pirce of city life and not something to fret over. Deeply, deeply unpleasant, but there’s a lot of risk in motorcycling and I do that.

    Re the photo, I rather thought that you had gone through that reasoning Nesta with which I wholly agree. I hate it when television programmes warn that “some scenes may be upsetting” when they show the truth, but are happy to allow sanitised versions of violence seduce us into believing that it’s a bit like a video game – it’s not.

    This brilliant piece dodges no images.

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