‘Pakistan is a safe place to play cricket’

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"The unfortunate thing is that when something happens in this part of the world, their (Anglo-Australian) media goes after us. My question is: which country is safe?", asks the former Sri Lankan captain in an interview to the Indian Express.

On a day when the representatives of various countries participating in the forthcoming Champions Trophy voiced their security concerns to the International Cricket Council, Sri Lanka Cricket president Arjuna Ranatunga said the atmosphere in Pakistan was conducive to hold the biennial event.

Though Sri Lanka has been put on standby in case the event is moved out of Pakistan, Ranatunga said he wouldn't push to host the Champions Trophy. Speaking to The Indian Express, the former Lanka captain lashed out at the Australian and English media's paranoia when it comes to security issues in the sub-continent.




You were in Pakistan recently; do you think security arrangements there are sufficient for Champions Trophy?


" I can't see any issue. I was there for three days and felt that security was pretty good. The unfortunate thing is that when something happens in this part of the world, their (Anglo-Australian) media goes after us. My question is: which country is safe? When a cracker goes off in our part of the world, it is a huge bomb. When a bomb goes off elsewhere, it is a small cracker.


We never had a problem playing the Asia Cup (in Pakistan). They played good hosts and security was good too. The only thing is if Pakistan doesn't host, it comes here. I am in a fix and I don't want to talk about it. I would like to have this tournament on my soil, but I won't push it because they were good.


Why do some countries always have reservations when it comes to touring Pakistan?


" It's unfortunate that the western media has given a wrong impression about this part of the world. I feel it is safe here than any other country. As I said, we are willing to go to Pakistan. If the event is moved out, we are ready to host it.


Don't you think the ICC should take a stand and hold the Champions Trophy without the teams who are not willing to tour Pakistan?


" We should really push them to come and play. It is up to a particular government. If my government gives the go-ahead, I think the other countries should respect that. I don't think if the players are in any danger, any government or board will force them to go and play.


What about the problem of cricketers choosing to play in lucrative tournaments elsewhere over representing their country?


" I have made a new rule which says if players don't play in the provincial tournament, whether it is one-day or four days or T20, they will not be eligible for selection. A lot of people prefer to go out to play and then come here to play for the country. It will stop now.


The bottomline is that I have to improve cricket. It is not only the money part. Unfortunately, cricket has become a business rather than a sport these days. It is all about rupees and dollars. I am glad that I am not playing cricket now.


But don't you think money, too, is important for cricketers?


" If you offer me $5 million to play a tournament and miss international cricket, I will never do that. I think money is as important as is the happiness you get while playing for the country. The players realise it when they stop playing.


But won't it be tough to make youngsters aware of that?


" We are trying to teach them. If they listen, it's good. If they don't, then we might have to take some strong decisions. I would rather do the right thing for the game and the country than be a popular administrator.