The Pakistan board has been criticised by a senior politician for losing the hosting rights for the Champions Trophy after several ICC member boards expressed reservations about touring the troubled nation. Senator Enver Baig, who is part of the sports committee, said the PCB was as much to blame for the event's shifting as the ICC.
Baig expressed serious doubts over the board president Ijaz Butt's ability to run the game's administration. "The ICC decision to take away the Champions Trophy is extremely bad news for our people," Baig told the News. "He [Butt] has failed to resolve internal crises in the PCB and was also unable to stand up to the ICC bosses to defend Pakistan's case as far as the Champions Trophy and the Oval Test are concerned. I don't think the PCB chief fought our case properly."
Pakistan was scheduled to host the Champions Trophy in September this year after the tournament was postponed due to security concerns in 2008. India's cancellation of their tour in January because of cooling of relations between the two countries following the terror attacks in Mumbai was a big blow to Pakistan's chances of staging the event.
Baig said the decision to take the Champions Trophy away from Pakistan would send negative signals about the country to the rest of the world. "It would put a stamp on Pakistan's reputation as an insecure place which is totally wrong," he said. "We are a peaceful people and we love our sports."
The sports minister Aftab Jilani said Pakistan had proven itself to be a safe touring destination while hosting one-day tournaments in 2008. "We held the Asia Cup last year in a very successful manner and the recent ODI series against Sri Lanka also went incident-free," Jilani said. "We don't think there was any reason to move the tournament out of Pakistan."
Wasim Akram, the former Pakistan captain, said the country was now isolated. "Sure there were security problems in the past but things are getting better and Pakistan deserved more and more cricket at international level," Akram told AFP. "PCB should convince nations to play in Pakistan. How would cricket develop in Pakistan when there is no international cricket? You can't blame the ICC, they go by what their member countries say."
However Tauqir Zia, the former PCB chairman, said the isolation would be temporary. "Since the Mumbai attacks we have lost an important power in India who at government level have gone against us but at cricket level they are not against us," Zia said. "The return of international cricket to Pakistan depends on the security situation, which will improve."