Sydney, Mar.12 : Noted cricket commentator Peter Roebuck believes that the security fears expressed by the Australian Government and Cricket Australia with regard to the team's tour of Pakistan was exaggerated, and believes the issue could have been handled differently.
"Of course, the dangers have been exaggerated. That is the nature of security advisers and governments. Even in the worst places in Pakistan it is surely riskier to drive a car than to be an Australian, let alone one closely protected by the state's vast resources," Roebuck says in a syndicated article for Australian newspapers.
However, he says that the postponement of the Australian team's tour of Pakistan should not come as a surprise.
"It is not possible to ask sportsmen to represent the nation in a place where prospective visitors have been strongly advised to stay at home. It is not possible to expect a team to play cricket in a country where the governing body of the game was unwilling to stage its own Women's World Cup," Roebuck says.
Praising Pakistan's cricket coach Geoff Lawson for making a last-ditch effort to save the tour with a public attack on the attitude of this Australian team, Roebuck, however, says that Lawson is speaking from a position of cordoned safety, and not placed in a situation where he could be a potential target for anti-social elements.
"Truth to tell it would not have been much of a tour. Already the trip had been curtailed, with two Test matches and five ODIs replacing the full program. Every player was to be given a personal guard and asked to remain inside luxurious hotels. Every spectator was to be searched umpteen times by soldiers and policemen. It is not much of a way to play any sport," Roebuck said.
He believes that the Australian players will be relieved the tour has been called off.
"Alas, some of them will also be delighted. Long ago it was clear they did not want to go. Plain and simple, the elite players are reluctant to tour Pakistan, and hurry away at the first opportunity. It is not only the Australians. Not long ago senior South Africans tried to have a tour cancelled after a minor explosion in Karachi," he writes.
"The Australian players have the same pusillanimous outlook," he adds.
He concludes by saying that it is too early to predict the ramifications of the cancellation.
International cricket lurches from crisis to crisis, dispute to dispute. Cricket has been described as the best-loved game. Right now it deserves the opposite tag, Roebuck says.