Pakistan cricket always manages to divide opinion. Be it the selection of the chairman or the captain, the team line-up or the batting order, or any other menial decision, you can always find self-important ex-players, bit characters and even politicians ready to give their commentary on the prevailing situation. Yet, all commentators agree on these basic facts. The whitewash in the ODI and the T20 series against Bangladesh is the lowest point in Pakistani history – the stats, which rank Pakistan at 9th and 4th respectively, back this up. They also agree that it is time that Waqar Younis gave up the mantle of head coach – under whose leadership Pakistan has lost the last five ODI series. Furthermore, everyone is in consensus over the fact that this is a rebuilding phase – where the old guard is phased out and young blood comes into the fore.
As such, the Zimbabwe tour of Pakistan becomes an essential cog in the machinery that is to rebuild Pakistan cricket. Yet, that too is now in doubt; the deadly attack on the Ismaili community in Karachi has prompted Zimbabwean cricket authorities to reassess the security report once more, barely a week before the team is scheduled to arrive. The additional concern here is understandable, not just from the Zimbabwean perspective; if the tour faces any security lapse of the sort faced by the Sri Lankan cricket team, then Pakistan would have to face another long drought of home cricket – this one probably longer and permanently damaging. Yet delaying this tour would practically have the same effect; PCB would be back to square one, looking for countries courageous enough to come to Pakistan. It is crucial then, that despite threats and security concerns this tour must go ahead, the state needs to provide all the security that it can to these matches, even if it means overburdening our coffers. This tour will be the turning point, an example that can be used to invite other teams, and an experience that will shape the next generation of Pakistani cricketers – playing in front of a roaring home crowd.