A full calendar: South African Cricketers’ Association make the right call to turn down Bangladeshi tour

2012-04-26 00:00

UNLESS you are English, West Indian, a hired T20 gun or a cricketer who just never gets tired, this time of the year is for relaxation and making up for the time lost during the festive period.

Which is probably why the South African Cricketers’ Association (Saca) is planning to oppose an impending Bangladeshi tour. Bangladesh had proposed to play against the Proteas next month.

The Proteas have had a slog of a season. Yes, they had one of their longest off-seasons in a long time after the Cricket World Cup, but it was more than deserved, after playing for so long without any sufficient rest to speak of.

Then came the Bangladeshi advance, creeping up like a thief in a dark alley. Kudos to the Tigers, because after years of underperforming they are finally showing some fight and they deserve to play against quality opposition regularly to gauge whether the gains they made in the Asia Cup were indeed in the right direction.

But their timing could not have been worse. With the South African off-season in full swing, it was impossible to see Saca giving the tour the green light, even though it was going to consist of T20s and one-day internationals.

With such a busy year with the England tour, the T20 World Cup and a tour to Australia later on in the year, any sane cricketer would baulk at the demands that would be put on him.

All respects to the Tigers, but the calendar has absolutely no space for meaningless matches, even though they could serve as valuable warm-up matches for the T20 showpiece in Sri Lanka in September and October.

I cannot help but feel sorry for the Pakistan Cricket Board because they had offered to host Bangladesh for a full tour. However, that has been postponed because of security concerns.

For all their improvements on the field under the wily Misbah-ul-Haq and off the field by Zaka Ashraf, Pakistan were at least due a tour. But their security will always be a factor and after the tragic Lahore incident of 2009 involving the Sri Lankan team, Test sides are wary about undertaking a tour there. Someone had to break the ice though, and if any team were in a prime position to do that, it was Bangladesh. Pity the Pakistani fans who have been starved of quality cricket. Pakistan last had a proper tour when South Africa visited in 2007.

It seems those the cricketing world has given up on Pakistan and their internal troubles.

It would have been interesting to see how the cricketing world would have reacted if India were in Pakistan’s shoes.

It has to be remembered that England rocked up in India very soon after the devastating terrorist attack in Mumbai in 2008 and yet no team has put its hands up for a Pakistan tour. Stuart Law’s resignation from the Bangladeshi coaching role might have been seen as a moral stand, but looking inwards, Australians have never been fond of going to Pakistan.

Since 1988 Australia have been to Pakistan only twice, in 1994 and 1998, compared to South Africa’s three visits.

Until Pakistan’s security issue is resolved, unfortunately, one of the most vibrant, enigmatic and exciting cricketing nations will continue to be starved of cricket at home.

As for Bangladesh, they just don’t have the clout to impose a tour on other nations at the moment, but that could all change if their cricket improves.

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