LAHORE - The well-planned deadly ambush apparently was on the Sri Lankan cricketers. Though the Lankan cricketers - heeding to Pakistan Cricket Board's SOS to be the first frontline nation to visit this country that has been shunned by all in the last 15 months other than Bangladesh and Zimbabwe - through extreme good fortune escaped death, our cricket and our country has not been similarly fortunate. If that was the objective of the attackers, and it certainly seems to be the case, they have achieved it to perfection. Pakistan's cricket in the last eight years or so has been a victim of geopolitical conditions and security situation. These combined with some erratic handling by the Pakistan Cricket Board in the last three years or so, had made it languish in intensive care - alive but only barely. This brazen terrorist attack has sounded the virtual death knell to it. Now for the foreseeable future no foreign team would be lured to come over - not even if we offered them the presidential level security. We had made a similar offer to Sri Lanka, and we have bungled big time. Our elite force posse may have been valiant in their duty and the bus driver brave and expedient in the face of serious hazard, but it does not preclude one from commenting that the security was anything but adequate. It was nowhere near presidential. It was not even a far cry. That when reportedly the intelligence agencies and the police had been forewarned It is quite evident that Pakistan has failed in fulfilling its pledge that was made to the Lankan Board and its cricketers. And come what may, the PCB cannot absolve itself of responsibility for it needed to ensure that it got the promised security for its guests - especially given the implications that an incident-free tour would have raised Pakistan's stock in front of the ICC and the reluctant-to-tour white nations. Now the doubting Thomases have been proven right, and Pakistan cricket has been left in a lurch. What boggles the mind further is that the routines had been more or less perfected on previous tours - such as the three-ring cover during India's landmark visit in 2004, and preceded by South Africa in 2003 and followed by those of England and India in 2005-06. Nothing remotely untoward happened then. So the security blueprint was there, to the last tiny detail, and it was ignored or sidestepped. And it is that which allowed the perpetrators to be audacious enough to make an attempt when the split tour was at its fag end. This demands an inquiry, a serious one and not of the eyewash variety. Heads must roll - but only those that were indeed responsible. The ghastly incident happened right when Pakistan cricket seemed to be looking up in terms of its on-field performances. Younis Khan had hit a triple hundred and only the day before Umar Gul had a six-for on a wicket that would break any bowler's heart. The effervescence and sparkle for which Pakistan cricketers of yore were known the world over seemed to be coming back, not wholly but quite substantively. The path to recovery seemed close enough. Sadly, it is now back to square one and for a considerable length of time Pakistan is likely to remain a pariah - not a destination to be visited whatever the temptation. This is a consequence that we now have to live with - and its ramifications are far beyond sports. In terms of cricket, the ICC has already cast a doubt on whether Pakistan would continue to remain a host for the World Cup 2011. The next one-day international rubber on the calendar is against Australia in April-May this year, and that already was to take place in the gulf - in Abu Dhabi and Dubai. Reduced to nomads, playing their 'home' games in alien lands, but Pakistani cricketers and our cricket must endure. It is regrettable, but there is no way out of it. Meanwhile, it would be better if the current dispensation in the Board - that has incidentally been given a thumbs down by the Senate's standing committee on sports and roundly criticised - did mend its fences with its counterparts and the ICC that it was so quick to alienate owing to ill-advised public statements. This time of adversity could be turned to our advantage but only if the PCB could use it gainfully by improving its organisational standards and its first class cricket - putting in sound, transparent structures. For an example, it only has to look at South Africa. In 20 years of international sanctions during the Apartheid era, the Springboks were isolated but they still had a most vibrant first class structure that produced cricketers of class - to name a few, Mike Procter, Clive Rice, Tony Greig and Kepler Wessels. At the same time they built some of the finest stadiums in the world. And when the walls of Apartheid came down in 1991, South Africa was immediately a first rate cricketing nation that has remained close to the acme since. Given the passion of the people for cricket in this country, Pakistan could do a similar job of turning an extreme challenge into a great opportunity provided its Board was up to it.