After a lot of toil and tribulation, Bangladesh are finally touring Pakistan. The Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) and the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB), apparently have solved the standstill situation, and now the series will be played in three phases
But the series has already stirred a lot of controversy regarding if it was really necessary to tour Pakistan.
The first concern is security, as cricket has been scarce in Pakistan since the terrorist attack on the Sri Lankan team bus in 2009. But in recent times, teams like
Zimbabwe, West Indies and most significant of all, Sri Lanka have toured Pakistan and Bangladesh are next in line.
Bangladesh have already seen their veteran wicketkeeper-batsman Mushfiqur Rahim opt out of the Pakistan series as he said that he can not go there and play when his family will be worried at home. Along with Mushfiq, five of Bangladesh's coaching staff, including batting coach Neil McKenzie and spin consultant Daniel Vettori opted out of the tour.
The Bangladesh team will be provided with the highest level security and the players will be accompanied by commandos throughout the tour. But another concern has surged into the context as the questions apropos the players being affected by the closed-door situations there. The players are likely to be under strong security measures at all hours and Sri Lankan Cricket (SLC) chief Shammi Silva disclosed after their tour to Pakistan that the players were fed up as they were confined within their hotel rooms.
Former Bangladesh National Team Captain, Shafiqul Haque, went to Pakistan in 2019 with the Bangladesh Women's team who played three T20Is and two ODIs against Pakistan. Talking to The Business Standard (TBS), Mr Haque reminisced the tour of Pakistan as he recalled that they were under tight security throughout the tour.
"The security is very tight there. When I toured with the Women's team, we were not allowed to go outside. We practiced and played our matches on the same ground.
The situation is much better now. As two powerful personalities like Imran Khan and Ehsan Mani are there at the helm, I am sure that they would not have invited any team without being 200% certain" Shafiqul said.
He further added that there were some risks during the night games and the players staying restrained in their rooms might affect their performance a tad.
"This (staying confined in the hotel rooms) can affect the players' performance because they might not feel free and feel awkward sitting in their room all day. They might also have fear during the day-night matches as the bombings generally happen at night but I don't think that it is likely to happen," Mr Haque added.
The question regarding the BCB's cricketing diplomacy also came at the question as they were under peer pressure to send the side to Pakistan. BCB had already sent the Under 16 boys and National Women's side to Pakistan in 2019 and apparently, many Bangladeshi players have signed up for the upcoming Pakistan Super League (PSL) which will be played in Pakistan mostly.
Talking to TBS, former Bangladeshi cricketer Raqibul Hasan bashed the point of Bangladesh lagging in cricket diplomacy and said that there was only one point of diplomacy in the negotiation and BCB had ensured that.
"What diplomacy? (If we talk about diplomacy so much) We should appoint the top diplomats of the world in the board and instil them as players, then we will win everything and become the World Champions, just by playing on the table. There is nothing about diplomacy here as the players except Mushfiq wanted to tour. The only issue of diplomacy was regarding the security and the board and the government has given the clearance," Mr Hasan said.
He also added that the short stay was ensured so that the players were not affected by their stifled situation.
"The issue with staying for a long time was security and the players being under surveillance all the time. Commandos being with them all the time will be disturbing for the players as they need to be stress-free. The tour was made short so that the players are not affected but the security will get the topmost priority," Raqibul added.
But, when the tour is about to be unfolded, the fans can only hope that the Tigers have a good and safe series in Pakistan. Winning would surely be something, which will put an end to all the controversy.