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03 Mar 2009 11:33
The cricket world reacted with shock and anger on Tuesday to the brazen and savage attacks on the Sri Lankan team, warning of dire consequences for the game in Pakistan.
Eight people were killed and seven Sri Lankan cricketers were wounded when up to 12 gunmen attacked the squad’s convoy near the Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore with rockets, hand grenades and automatic weapons, police said.
“We note with dismay and regret the events ... in Lahore and we condemn this attack without reservation,” International Cricket Council chief executive Haroon Lorgat said in a statement.
“It is a source of great sadness that there have been a number of fatalities in this attack and it is also very upsetting for the wider cricket family that some of the Sri Lanka players and one match official have been injured in this attack.”
Cricket powerhouse India, which pulled out of an anticipated tour to Pakistan this year due to simmering political tensions, said it was “shocked” and highlighted the lack of security that blights its neighbour.
“What has happened is very shocking indeed,” said N Srinivasan, secretary of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI).
“We have been saying that there was a lack of security and safety in Pakistan.
But this is not the time to give statements on that.
India called off their tour in December in the wake of the deadly terrorist attacks in Mumbai, which India blamed on Pakistan-based militants. It was only then that Sri Lanka were approached and agreed to fill the void.
Australia, who have also refused to tour the troubled South Asian country, said the attacks would have a lasting and damaging impact on future series in Pakistan.
“It is very sad that it has come to this for all the cricketers and Pakistan cricket in particular,” said Australian Cricketers’ Association chief Paul Marsh.
“This is not their doing but I am sure the fall-out from this is going to have a lasting impact on Pakistan cricket and the future of the game in Pakistan.”
Cricket Australia chief executive James Sutherland was equally stunned.
“Australian cricket has many friends in Sri Lanka and in Pakistan and we sincerely hope they are all safe after this awful incident,” Sutherland said.
Former Sri Lanka coach Tom Moody, an Australian, said he was “saddened” by the orchestrated ambush in the upmarket district around Lahore’s Liberty Square.
“My thoughts and prayers are not only with my friends in the Sri Lankan cricket team, but with the families of everyone that has been killed or injured in today’s attack,” said Moody, who coached the national team from 2005 until just after the 2007 World Cup.
Former England cricketer Dominic Cork, who was in Lahore commentating on Sri Lanka’s now abandoned second Test against Pakistan, said no more international cricket should be played in the country and vowed never to return.
“I won’t be coming back here while I’m living, there is no chance. I don’t think international cricket should return to this country,” Cork, a fast-medium bowler who played 37 Tests for England, told Sky News television in London.
Meanwhile, South Africa coach Mickey Arthur said the attack could signal the end of top-flight cricket in Pakistan for some time.
“Any loss of life is tragic but when it involves sport it just seems so senseless,” Arthur said. “The Sri Lankans are a fantastic bunch of guys who did not deserve to be subjected to something like this.
“Thank God none of them were killed. As far as Pakistan is concerned I’m afraid this could mean the end of international cricket in that country for the foreseeable future.”
Arthur said the South Africans felt uncomfortable when they visited Pakistan in 2007.
“When we toured there in October 2007 it was quite obvious we were ... trying to do something normal in a very abnormal situation,” he said.
“Although we were surrounded by security and as satisfied as we could be with the arrangements made by Cricket South Africa, the Pakistan Cricket Board and the Pakistan government, it was very uncomfortable.”
The chief executive of South Africa’s players’ association, Tony Irish, said the attacks on the Sri Lankan team bus would forever change the way security was handled around touring sides.
“The big concern is that for the first time a team has been targeted and that adds a whole new dimension to security arrangements and planning,” Irish said.—AFP, Reuters
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