Just when Pakistan and its cricket board PCB assumed that things are fully back to normal with Sri Lanka and Bangladesh making full cricket tours of the country, they have suffered a major setback. Cricket South Africa (CSA) has cancelled the tour of South African cricket team to the insurgency-ridden and troubled country.
However, anxious to not offend the PCB, CSA has tried to clarify that it wasn't the security concerns but heavy workload of players that is responsible for the mini-tour which was to contain three T20Is getting shelved, for the moment.
However, it's hard to believe that security fears didn't play a part in the entire episode as there was going to be a security assessment made by a delegation that was to be especially sent to Pakistan ahead of the tour. CSA, at the moment, are also asserting that they will work with PCB to re-arrange the tour at a later date.
It has to be remembered that even though Sri Lanka and Bangladesh have toured Pakistan, many key players of both countries opted out of them as they were not comfortable with the prospect of being in that country. The security arrangements for the teams are of a very high level and videos showing the large convoys of the visiting teams have also surfaced on social media.
An official in the PCB told a news website that the organization is still hopeful of welcoming South Africa in future. "South Africa will not be coming to Pakistan in the following month. CSA is ready for the tour however a new window will be sought in this regard. The reason was not security but the commitments of the players," cricketpakistan.com.pk quoted him as saying.
The same person, though, admitted that there were some other issues as well, related to the series, that have cropped up. "The series against South Africa was already facing logistical issues. Both boards will try to clear a window for the series in the current year. The series is being postponed due to the South African player's workload management," he added.
While the South Africa tour hangs in balance, PCB is already thinking of wooing New Zealand to tour Pakistan next year. What cannot be denied, though, is that the board is getting ahead of itself in making all these plans. After the tour of Sri Lanka, PCB chief Ehsan Mani even went to the extent of saying that his country is safer than India to play cricket in.
But the withdrawal of key Sri Lankan and Bangladeshi players and now, the postponement of South Africa's tour has again revealed that cricket teams are highly skeptical about playing cricket in a country that witnessed a horrendous attack on Sri Lankan cricket team by terrorists in 2009.