Zimbabwe and Pakistan both need the series to go ahead

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Speculation that Zimbabwe will reconsider the wisdom of going ahead with their tour of Pakistan following the assassination of Benazir Bhutto assumes that Zimbabwe are as safety conscious as other most Full Member countries. The reality is that cancellation is that last thing on the minds of Zimbabwe Cricket at the moment.

Over the last four years Zimbabwe has constantly played down suggestions that it is an unsafe destination for tours or that the political situation is such that it would be wrong for sides to visit. It would be the height of hypocrisy for those in charge to now turn round and use those same arguments against Pakistan, however different the reality of their two situations might be.

In inviting Zimbabwe to tour at all the Pakistan board took a leap of faith as there is no way such a series makes economic sense. For Zimbabwe Cricket, such invitations are few and far between and to snub it now, however understandable the reasons, might leave the team in limbo for some time.

It is vital to the Pakistan board, too, that Zimbabwe go ahead with the tour because hot on their heels come Australia. If Zimbabwe argue that the situation is too unsafe for them to proceed then the chances of the Australian tour happening reduce significantly. It's looking shaky even now. The financial implications of that to the cash-strapped Pakistan board are huge.

Zimbabwe Cricket has relied on the support of the Asian countries in its ongoing battle to maintain Full Member status, and it is aware that it cannot afford to rattle that alliance. That Zimbabwe remain at cricket's top table is more to do with behind-the-scenes politics than cricket-related arguments. With Peter Chingoka, the Zimbabwe Cricket chairman, facing the results of a potentially devastating forensic audit when the ICC next meets, he needs friends badly.

The only way the tour will not go ahead is for the ICC to step in and, using its own security advisors, rule that the situation inside Pakistan is too unstable. That would be a blow to both boards even though from what we know so far it may well be the common sense solution.

Since when, though, has common sense been a factor?

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Will Pakistan Premier League gain success just like Indian Premier League ?