Zim Cricket under fire over Pakistan tour

HARARE - The Zimbabwe national cricket team jetted into a storm last night from Pakistan where the A-team escaped a terrorist attack at Gaddaffi Stadium that killed two people, with the Sports and Recreation Commission (SRC) threatening to take the game’s leadership to task.

A police sub-inspector and a Pakistani citizen were killed when a suicide bomber blew himself up while riding on a rickshaw when a day-night match between Pakistan and Zimbabwe was underway around 9pm last Friday.

An attempt to attack the Gaddafi Stadium was foiled by the gallantry of a police official, who lost his life, according to Pakistan’s Information minister Pervaiz Rashid.

The Zimbabwe Cricket (ZC) hierarchy threw caution to the wind, and chose to ignore the SRC warnings against touring the south Asian country.

Zimbabwe became the first Test-playing nation to visit Pakistan since the 2009 terrorist attack on the Sri Lankan team bus which left seven people dead.

Since the attack, Pakistan have been playing all their home series in the United Arab Emirates as no cricket unions wanted to risk their players by touring the country. 

Zimbabwe’s Pakistan trip was outlawed by the Foreign Affairs ministry, but the team defied government and travelled to the terrorism-torn country nonetheless, exposing the senior national team to real and present danger.

Despite warnings from the SRC as well, the cricket team still travelled, exposing the team to the banal evil of terrorism.

ZC chairman Wilson Manase claimed in an interview with ESPNcricinfo they had consulted the ministry of Defence before embarking on the tour.

It is not immediately clear why the ministry of Defence would invalidate the Foreign Affairs decree. Ironically, Manase’s client — Constantine Chiwenga — is the commander of the defence forces.

“I tried to see the officials in SRC and they kept on saying that they are busy, and time was obviously short for us as well as we had only two days to go before the team departs,” Manase said.

“So what I did was to consult with the relevant authorities in government, the defence forces — they have got the intelligence, they are the people who know what the situation is and they have given a go-ahead from that area. They told me it’s safe to go. Also, the team that came here to look at the situation gave a clearance and then I took the decision.”

The SRC’s warnings came to pass when a terrorist blew a bomb outside the Gaddafi Stadium on Friday night during the second ODI between Zimbabwe and Pakistan.

More than 20 000 people were inside the stadium and panic could have caused a stampede had the terrorist been successful.

The worst case scenario would have seen the entire Zimbabwe national team perishing in the suicide attack.

Zimbabwe continued with the tour and played the third and final ODI at the same venue on Sunday night, despite the terrorism threat.

The match was later washed out by rain.

ZC, Pakistan Cricket Board and police officials tried to downplay the incident by claiming it was a “power transformer blast”.

But, Rashid had already confirmed the incident was indeed a suicide attack on the venue.

SRC director-general retired-colonel Charles Nhemachena said yesterday they were not surprised by the incident in Pakistan.

“We had already foreseen all those circumstances but we are happy there was nothing that affected our boys directly,” he said.

“We need to obviously be able to say what level of risk is acceptable and what level is not. As it stands, obviously people have different interpretations of what is risk.

“But we (SRC) have to call the shots and unfortunately we have zero tolerance for any risk that’s why we made the decision we made.”

Nhemachena added: “We will just give them time to settle in and then will obviously have to hear from them why they went ahead.”

Shortly after the side had left for Pakistan, the SRC confirmed in a statement they will take action since ZC had defied a direct order from government’s sports regulator

The Zimbabwe national team returned from Pakistan last night after losing all two Twenty20 and two ODI matches.

Comments (2)

I see nothing wrong. Nyika yakaomerwa and these sportsstars were going to do what they love best. Its like maCde aiyenda kunorwira nyika singing'ami nababa musandicheme kana ndafa ndini ndakazvida zvekusungura nyika"

dg - 3 June 2015

There were 6 levels of security, this attack happened 1 mile from stadium beyond 6th level of security.security was airtight with no chance of harm to teams

shujaat khan - 3 June 2015

Post a comment

Readers are kindly requested to refrain from using abusive, vulgar, racist, tribalistic, sexist, discriminatory and hurtful language when posting their comments on the Daily News website.
Those who transgress this civilised etiquette will be barred from contributing to our online discussions.
- Editor

Your email address will not be shared.