Dhaka, Mar 22 (UNB) - Although , this was far from the first time that cricket found itself hobbled by terrorism, or the threat of it at least. Below we recount six such episodes from the past, when the game had to take a backseat to concerns over security. The actual situation on the ground in some of these cases, along with the justifications for calling off a game or tour, are often fiercely contended by the hosts:
March 1996: AUS, WI shun Sri Lanka
It was during the ICC World Cup 1996, which was hosted jointly by India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. Citing a security threat, Australia refused to go to Sri Lanka, and it was the very first instance of a team refusing to play a World Cup match. Australia were afraid because of a bombing incident which took the place in Colombo one month before the World Cup. Due to the refusal, Australia lost two points.
West Indies did the same act in the same World Cup. They refused to play their group-stage encounter against Sri Lanka and lost two points. They also cited the security threat as their reason to refuse to play in Sri Lanka.
May 2002: NZ return home from Pak
The incident took the place in Karachi when New Zealand were touring Pakistan for a series. Before the second Test, a bomb attack took the place near Pearl-Continental Hotels & Resorts where both of the participating teams were staying. As per the report of the Pakistani media then, cricket teams or nations were not the target of the attack. The attack was on French naval technicians working on a submarine project in Karachi. It left at least 10 French nationals dead.
Right after the attack, the New Zealand series was called off, and they left Pakistan on the same night through the first available flight.
July 2006: South Africa leave Sri Lanka
South Africa cricket team was touring Sri Lanka in 2006 to play a tri-series involving the hosts and India. But during the series, a series of bombings took place in the capital Colombo, and were the reason behind South Africa’s decision to end the series. The African nation appointed a security consultant before the final decision to leave the series. The security consultant said the situation was ‘unacceptable’ for the South African national team. As a result, they left Sri Lanka.
India stayed back in Sri Lanka to play an ODI series. But due to the persistent rain, the series was called off.
August 2008: ICC Champions Trophy postponed (in Pakistan)
Due to another unexpected situation in Pakistan, ICC postponed one of their biggest events, ICC Champions Trophy which was scheduled to be held in September 2008 in Pakistan. Before that, South Africa refused to send their team, Australia, New Zealand and England urged their players to not travel to Pakistan.
The trouble started with a suicide bombing in Islamabad. Right after that, a series of bombings rocked Karachi, and the situation became untenable for cricket.
Sri Lanka targeted in a terror attack in Lahore, March 2009:
Probably, it was the first instance when an international cricket team was the main target of a terror attack, and it happened in Pakistan. The incident took the place near Gaddafi Stadium when the team bus of Sri Lanka cricket team was travelling to the stadium to play the third day of the second Test of the series. Reports said, total members of 12 gunmen attacked the team bus and shoot randomly. The incident left six Pakistan policemen and two civilians dead, and six of Sri Lanka national team players were injured.
Since then, Pakistan is a ‘banned’ country twhen it comes to hosting a Test match. In the last 10 years, Pakistan tried to bring many teams to tour, but they have failed to convince any team.
October 2015: Australia turn their backs
In October 2015, the Australia cricket team suddenly refused to tour Bangladesh citing security threat in the country. They also issued warnings their nationals to tour Bangladesh. However, in July 2017, a terror attack has taken the place in Dhaka- Holey Artisan Bakery in Gulshan- which left 29 dead including two policemen and five attackers.
However, Australia toured Bangladesh for a two-match Test series in 2017. In the series, they lost a Test to the Tigers which was Bangladesh’s first-ever Test victory against cricket’s most successful nation.