Concerns are growing that the Bangladesh women’s team, due to tour Pakistan for 11 days starting October 23, may not visit after all. The tour, which comprises two T20Is and three ODIs, all in Lahore, was believed to be a near certainty to go ahead as far as both boards were concerned, but is still awaiting clearance from the Bangladesh government.
The clearance was thought to be a formality despite the fact touring teams to Pakistan have, since 2009, needed extensive security guarantees from the PCB. Sri Lanka concluded a tour of Pakistan earlier this week that saw them play three ODIs in Karachi and three T20Is in Lahore, and although several leading players pulled out citing security concerns, the series itself went off without a hitch.
The status of the women’s tour could also have an impact on the men’s team, pencilled in to tour Pakistan in January. BCB’s cricket operations committee chairman Akram Khan told reporters they would “only get the full details once the security team goes to Pakistan. As you all know, the BCB president mentioned how security is the top priority on tours after the New Zealand incident [when a terrorist killed 50 people inside two mosques in Christchurch]”.
Khan would not be drawn on whether the women’s tour getting the go-ahead would de facto be a green light for the men’s series, too. “Security is definitely a concern but at the same time, we have to think about the development of women’s cricket. But I have said it repeatedly that only when we get the government’s green signal, will we go forward.”
Ten days out from the women’s team’s scheduled arrival and with no confirmation, the PCB is understandably concerned. Aside from the logistical and financial hurdles delays would represent to the board, given the significant security effort that needs to go into assuring visiting teams are safe, the PCB is eager to begin a process of normalisation for international cricket in Pakistan. There was talk of Ireland visiting in the near future, and the PCB announced the entirety of the PSL would take place in Pakistan in 2020, in addition to a potential Test series against Sri Lanka.
Even if the Bangladesh women’s tour was to proceed, the three Indian members of the support staff will not be travelling to Pakistan. Head coach Anju Jain, assistant coach Devika Palshikar, and trainer Kavita Pandey will be absent, the BCB saying they wanted to avoid visa-related difficulties because of the strained political ties between India and Pakistan. A number of Indian nationals involved in the TV production of the recently concluded Sri Lanka series were granted visas however.
Earlier this year, Karachi hosted West Indies women for three T20Is. The Bangladesh women’s team last toured Pakistan in 2015, while the men’s side hasn’t visited since 2008.