Fallout of the Lahore attack March 4, 2009

Kill cricket, create terrorists, warns Younis


Younis Khan has warned that, without cricket, extremism in Pakistan will grow © AFP

Younis Khan has appealed to cricket's administrators to save the game in Pakistan, or risk pushing future generations into the clutches of terrorists. The Pakistan captain fears that an extended boycott by touring teams could lead to a dramatic decline in interest and participation in cricket among the nation's youth. That, in turn, could invite corrupting influences to fill the void that might otherwise have been occupied by sport, Younis argued.

"Our future as a nation is in our youngsters' hands," Younis told Cricinfo. "Sport helps to make good human beings. If the sport is not there, the children can do silly things. We have to be very careful about that. Nobody wants to see children going down a bad path and finding themselves involved with bombs and things like that. We all must do something to stop that happening.

"Maybe in the future we will be alone [as a cricketing nation] and that would be very sad, especially for the youngsters. When I was a boy, I loved watching Imran Khan, Javed Miandad and Wasim Akram playing against great teams from overseas. It is because of them - seeing them play - that I also played the game. But what if no one comes to Pakistan? How will the youngsters know about the game? What will they do?

"I appeal for all the bosses and the ICC not let cricket die here. They must think about all the factors, including what will become of the youngsters of Pakistan. It would be very easy right now for the ICC and the bosses to say there will be no cricket in Pakistan. But the future will not be good if cricket is taken away from my country."

Younis, and his entire team, remain shocked and saddened at the attack on the Sri Lankan team and ICC officials in the shadows of the Gaddafi Stadium. He was just six days removed from completing a career-best innings of 313 - the third-highest total recorded by a Pakistani batsman in the team's 57-year history - and had been buoyant at the prospect of again locking horns with Sri Lanka on a more sporting Lahore pitch.

But in 30 terrifying minutes on Tuesday, everything changed. The attack on the Sri Lankan and ICC buses, which left eight security and transportation personnel dead, will almost certainly ensure a blanket boycott by touring teams for the foreseeable future, and force the Pakistani team into a nomadic existence.

Our future as a nation is in our youngsters' hands. Sport helps to make good human beings. If the sport is not there, the children can do silly things - Younis Khan issues a warning about Pakistan's future

Younis expressed concern that, should Pakistan be denied the opportunity of hosting matches in the long-term, players could abandon the national team in search of career opportunities in Indian Twenty20 leagues or county cricket.

"I have seen a lot in my career," he said. "At the last World Cup, Bob Woolmer died and that was a terrible thing. Then, just after I had been made the captain, we have this shocking attack. This is a very bad time in Pakistan. It feels that every day we go backwards, not forwards. We have not experienced anything like this before.

"If something is not done quickly, maybe everyone goes to the IPL, ICL or county cricket. I hope that does not happen. It is up to the ICC and the bosses from around the world to make sure that cricket is not lost in Pakistan because of a couple of mad people. It is not the sportsmen's fault.

"I met with the Sri Lankan team before they flew home and had dinner with them. They were very sad about what was happening to cricket. Cricket is suffering. Sport is one of the only things that brings countries closer and now, because of a few idiots - people who use guns and bombs are not human - no one might come here and we could be all alone."

Younis pledged his loyalty to the Pakistan team for the entirety of his career, but admitted to sadness at the prospect of leading his country in neutral venues - possibly England, which has emerged as a potential host on account of a large ex-pat Pakistani community.

"I will stand by this team," he said. "I love my team and my nation. I have played the last ten years for Pakistan, and I probably have another three or four to go. I want to give those years to the Pakistan team.

"I would love to play Australia in Pakistan, but that is difficult. It will be a new experience for me as captain leading my team in a home game against Australia in England. I will look at it two ways - I will be sad because my home series is in England, but also excited to play on the good pitches of England against a very good Australian team.

"The Pakistani nation loves sports, and especially cricket. The crowds are big everywhere. They love coming to see all the great teams from England, Australia, India, Sri Lanka. The problem had already started with Australia and India not playing here, but now it is much worse, and we don't know if anyone will come here to play us."

Alex Brown is deputy editor of Cricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • enosh on March 7, 2009, 7:03 GMT

    Clearly,Younis Khan does not like what happening in his country. Problems at grass root level can never be solved with just a sport inspiring people.Not that Pakistan does not deserve to play cricket. Pakistan is a democracy.It is in the hands of people to get their priorities right. Smasher79..why keep maneuvering the discussion in your favour.Sri Lankans offered to come to Pakistan as a token of goodwill.That should not have happend to them in any case!!Please realize that the problem in Pakistan is denial of anarchy prevailing in there.Do you think security arrangements were organised well enough? Only 8 policemen present for a team bus also carrying match officials. Know about what India offered to English players when they came back after 26/11 Mumbai. I think if better security arrangements were made those 6 policemen would not have been dead. The state of affairs in Pakistan is no more a secret.Please stop living in denial.Start to think of solutions.Take leaps forward.Gud luck

  • Umair on March 6, 2009, 15:46 GMT

    I strongly condemn what hap in lahore. MR ST JOHN you are calling butt's comments obnoxious. I think broad is being obnoxious because i think he doesn't realise that among the dead there were 6 policemen. So comparing himself to sitting ducks is absurd. He has no right to say that because he was saved by a commando. MR CHOUDHRY i believe you have interpreted younis totally wrong. All he wants to say is that teams should be provided higher level of security so they can tour PAK with confidence, which will eventually save the game in PAK. MR SUNIL PATEL first of all you are no one to say you oppose cricket on PAK soil. YOU are just an ordinary spectator like me sitting behind the cathode tube. Secondly i agree work needs to be done in order to improve security for visitors. This can be done. Lets just leave this to the concerned authorities.

  • StJohn on March 6, 2009, 8:42 GMT

    I think Ijaz Butt's comments about Chris Broad "lying" are obnoxious and unfortunate. The players (and presumably also the officials) were promised "head of state" level security. If this was "head of state" level security, then all heads of states can be grateful that they were not in Lahore that morning. It is right that we should await the official report into the level of security and he is right that several policemen tragically were killed. But his stinging attack on Chris Broad is deeply unfortunate: the poor guy's just been shot at in your country and he jumped on someone else to try to protect them. Broad is entitled to be angry, and Butt should have the grace to let Broad's comments go, even if he doesn't entirely agree with them. I wonder what Ijaz Butt would be saying if he had been shot at? Probably the same as Broad...

  • Manojendu on March 6, 2009, 8:06 GMT

    If a society gives two options to its people, either play with bat and ball or play with rifles and grenades, then the society is in need of immediate surgery to purge out the germs that has caused this sad state of affairs. And cricket may play a part in the healing process post the surgery, but it definitely can not play any part in the process of surgery. Younis Khan has got confused between cause and effect, he needs to remember that any society should never provide the option of playing with bullets and bombs as an option against playing with bat and ball. The issue of terrorism, religious bigotry needs to be he handled on a different plane, cricket is just a victim in this case, its absence can never be the cause, the cause is something totally different and needs to be addressed directly.

  • Arthur on March 6, 2009, 0:59 GMT

    I think most followers of cricket will have some sympathy for the views expressed by Younis. Unfortunately, given what has transpired in Lahore, cricket can only be a secondary consideration.

    No other ICC member countries have any responsibilty to Pakistan or the PCB to support the game in that country under the current political environment. The PCB must do what it can to foster the sport from a domestic level, in order to keep grassroots development progressing. But other countries should not be compelled to consider "what will become of the youngsters of Pakistan". It is not their job, it is not their responsibility.

  • sunil on March 5, 2009, 23:47 GMT

    I agree with younis khan that they may face problems if cricket is not being played in Pakistan. But my dear younis how come player will play with their life in danger? Sri lankans took the risk and whole world saw what happened with them. You want more such incedents? You might not have seen how those gunnmens were walking on the streets with no fear as if they are doing shopping in malls. In such a worst security situation how come one expect some one to come and play on such soil? It is routine news in pakistan about blast. If you assure president style security and provide them nothing, how come ICC or anyone will belive in you. I strongly oppose cricket on pakistani soil.

  • Raj on March 5, 2009, 22:34 GMT

    This is bad news for cricket and Pakistan and India is NOT celebrating. But I have to say, removing cricket will not increase terrorism in Pakistan. The reason is, Pakistan is already being taken over by terrorists. Was the problem the lack of cricket? I dont think so. The terrorism problem stems from elsewhere and Pakistan government needs to deal with it. Bringing in cricket from all over the globe will not help reducing the number of terrorists in Pakistan.

  • Nigel on March 5, 2009, 22:20 GMT

    There have been many sensible comments on this atrocity in Lahore. I am sad that Chris Broad was allowed by his employers to air his comments in the media. His views are obviously distorted by his horrendous experience. I must agree strongly with Younis Khan and many other commentators about the brotherhood of cricketers that transcends national boundaries and the need for cricket to find any way possible to move forwards together. Finally my condolences to the Pakistani security forces who gave their lives successfully protecting the national team of Sri Lanka. Also my best wishes to the fine team from Sri Lanka.

  • Asker on March 5, 2009, 22:08 GMT

    I am a Indian muslim living in the US, and I follow cricket like a religion. It was really unfortunate to see this happen. All those people including myself who thought those sick minded terrorist wont dare to do such thing like attacking cricketers or carrying suicide attacks in a stadium have been proven wrong. Its an utter failure of the BCP and the local and federal government who can't provide proper security to visitors and we talk about being good hosts. My sympathies are with injured Srilankan cricketers and those who lost their lives fighting to save them, and no words can be used to thank the bus driver who saved so many lives. These are the repurcussions for activities started by Pakistan during the 70's where they served as a training ground and ammunition suppliers to Afghanistan, Punjab, Kashmir etc to appease their big bosses who are remote controlling them till date. Islam means peace and trying to kill your guest is not Islam, this is what they teach in Madrassas MGBT

  • Aniket on March 5, 2009, 20:38 GMT

    Its sad that a country which has produced so many stalwarts should face such a situation. In a way Younis khan is right..cricket does provide a reason for a lot of youngsters to pursue their obsession and taking cricket away can lead to disaster..but one can't expect countries to visit Pakistan for atleast an year or so..neutral venues is the only option..Pakistan cricket will have to suffer due to madness of a few..Broad's comments should be taken seriously because if there was a security lapse then it could spell dooms day next time..Kudos to brave police men and the driver for saving the lives of srilankan cricketers but this might not be the case if such a thing happens again..So evaluation is necessary..Point about Indians celebrating is utterly rubbish..as an Indian I know how much we admire the style and class of Pakistani cricketers. Lets hope Pakistan cricket overcomes the shock soon.

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