Uncertainty looms over Bangladesh’s upcoming tour of Pakistan, with players and coaching staff unwilling to go for a full series there. Bangladesh are scheduled to play three T20 Internationals and two Tests in Pakistan in January. But according to a Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) functionary, even if the tour takes place, it could be restricted to T20Is only. The prevailing uncertainty in this regard is the reason why BCB hasn’t released the tour itinerary yet.
“Players aren’t willing to go to Pakistan for a tour spanning over three weeks. The coaching staff have already expressed their disapproval. Three T20Is are OK, as the tour will finish in seven-eight days. But they don’t want to go there for 21 days,” the BCB functionary told The Indian Express.
The Bangladesh cricket team narrowly escaped the Christchurch mosque shooting during their tour of New Zealand earlier this year. It is learnt that they are very concerned about touring Pakistan, supposedly a high-risk country. Although the Bangladesh women’s team toured Pakistan in October-November for three T20Is and two ODIs, the men’s team is not keen to follow suit.
However, Bangladesh’s two Tests in Pakistan are part of the ICC World Test Championship and in case of forfeiture, they will lose valuable points. “If we don’t tour, that would be because of force majeure. We might request the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) to host the series at a neutral venue. If it comes to that, we hope that the ICC would consider our case,” the BCB functionary said.
The International Tennis Federation recently shifted India’s Davis Cup tie, originally scheduled to be held in Islamabad, to Kazakhstan. Sri Lanka went to Pakistan for a cricket tour – three ODIs and three T20Is – in September-October alright, but their top players had pulled out. PCB is confident about hosting Sri Lanka for two Tests in December and have sent the itinerary to Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC).
After the limited-overs tour, SLC chief Shammi Silva had spoken about how the Sri Lankan players felt stifled by the strict security arrangements. Citing this, the BCB functionary said: “It could be a big mental block for the players. Team hotel, team bus and match venues would be their routine. They won’t be allowed to go out. In such a scenario, it’s very difficult to stay there for so many days.”
For the last 10 years, the UAE has had been Pakistan’s home away from home. But last year, PCB and Emirates Cricket Board (ECB) were at odds over scheduling. It remains to be seen if PCB is willing to host the Tests against Bangladesh in UAE, should they be played at a neutral venue. It is learnt that PCB is considering Malaysia as a back-up venue for next year’s Asia Cup.