Text size:

  • Small
  • Normal
  • Large
The UAE cricket squad planned to go to Sri Lanka to get much needed practice in before the 2011 World Cup qualifying tournament in South Africa next month.
The UAE cricket squad planned to go to Sri Lanka to get much needed practice in before the 2011 World Cup qualifying tournament in South Africa next month.
The UAE cricket squad planned to go to Sri Lanka to get much needed practice in before the 2011 World Cup qualifying tournament in South Africa next month.

UAE squad cancel Sri Lanka tour

The national cricket team has pulled out of their tour to Sri Lanka following the attack on the Sri Lankan squad in Pakistan.

ABU DHABI // The UAE cricket squad has cancelled a planned tour of Sri Lanka following the attack by gunmen on the Sri Lankan team in Pakistan on Tuesday. With the World Cup-qualifying tournament taking place in South Africa early next month, the UAE had planned to face some of Sri Lanka's top sides in warm-up games and was due to leave on Friday. But with the UAE side composed of several Pakistan nationals who, it was feared, could become potential targets of revenge attacks, the team pulled out of the tour. "It is regrettable," said Dilawar Mani, chief executive of the Abu Dhabi Cricket Council and a member of the Emirates Cricket Board (ECB). "But we feel, given the current climate, it is advisable to keep our players here in the UAE." "We are currently in the process of revising our schedule to ensure that the players have top-quality preparation for the qualifying tournament in South Africa, free of any worries about their safety." The former UAE captain and Pakistani national, Arshad Ali, who has always maintained sports teams must not be cowed by security threats, expressed disappointment at the decision. "We are a team and I fully respect the decision taken by our committee, which has our safety as their main concern," said the batsman who led the UAE to ACC Trophy success in 2006. "But I am sad. What happened in Lahore is very bad for cricket and on a human level a terrible thing. "There are a few bad people out there doing bad things and because of that cricket is going to suffer and all the people in Pakistan and Sri Lanka who love the game are also going to suffer."

Arshad, who was due to fly to Colombo with the UAE squad, believes cricket boards must make every effort to adopt a "business as usual" approach in defiance of groups who would seek to sow terror and disrupt the global game for political gain. "My personal view is that in the wider scheme we must continue to play on. We are sportsmen and these things should never have happened to cricket but they did and now we must not let them stop our game," he said. Serious ramifications are expected on both the sub-continent and among wider cricket-playing nations because of the attack, in which up to 14, apparently well-trained, gunmen armed with automatic weapons and rocket launchers opened fire on the Sri Lanka team's bus, killing six security officers and injuring seven players, an umpire and a coach, but Arshad is prepared to act on his convictions. "I understand the reasons why the tour has been cancelled but I would have been happy to go to Sri Lanka," he said. "I have a Pakistani passport and perhaps there might be a fear of retaliation, but nothing has changed for me. I am a cricketer and I want to play."

According to the ECB, top-class Sri Lankan sides will now come to the UAE to play the planned warm-up games, but Arshad is concerned the team's preparations for the all-important South African World Cup Qualifiers may suffer. "I hope we can still get the same practice," he said. "I don't know how our preparations will go now, but we will be working as hard as we can to be ready for the games." Abu Dhabi and Dubai are due to host the one-day series between Pakistan and Australia next month, and Mani said the ECB would review security in the wake of the attack. "We will talk to both countries and the relevant authorities and will do whatever we can to ensure that they feel as safe as possible."

mwalker@thenational.ae stregoning@thenational.ae

Back to the top

More articles

Editor's Picks

 Glenn Maxwell's knock that followed ensured Brendon McCullum's knock went in vain after his explosive half-century took Chennai Super Kings past the 200-mark. Ravindranath K / The National

All is well with Punjab as Maxwell and Miller seal win against Chennai

The Australian missed out on a century but his 95 runs, along with Miller's unbeaten half-century, ensured Kings XI scaled a mighty peak of a target in a hot first game of Abu Dhabi's double-header.

 Sunderland manager Gus Poyet protests during the Premier League match against Crystal Palace at The Stadium of Light in Sunderland, northeast England, on March 15, 2014. Ian MacNicol / AFP

Sunderland going out of Premier League with a grumble

Northeast club have underwhelmed during seven-year stay in the top flight

 Hamburg players leave the field after the match against Borussia Moenchengladbach on March 30, 2014. AFP

Hamburg the dinosaur’s time may be up in Bundesliga

Ever-present for 51 years in the German top-flight, Hamburg face the prospect of relegation, writes Ian Hawkey.

 At 105 kg, Gabrielle Garcia has dominated the world circuit and loves many things about being in Abu Dhabi. Ravindranath K / The National

Garcia seeks fresh challenge in MMA after her jiu-jitsu domination

Brazilian prides being a lioness in the sport but feels she can shed 25kg weight to pursue her MMA debut aspirations.

 England's Jonathan Trott hits out during the ICC Champions Trophy semi final match against South Africa at The Oval cricket ground, London June 19, 2013. REUTERS/Philip Brown

England’s Jonathan Trott sidelined with stress-related illness again

Jonathan Trott is to take a second break from professional cricket because of his stress-related illness as England and Wales Cricket Board and Warwickshire confirmed he will stop playing with immediate effect.

 Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho looks on during the Premier League match between Swansea City and Chelsea at the Liberty Stadium on April 13, 2014 in Swansea, Wales. Chris Brunskill/Getty Images

‘That’s why we are a top club’ says Chelsea goalkeeper Petr Cech

Jose Mourinho’s men will temporarily claim the Premier League top spot if they beat Sunderland, leaving them in control of their own destiny in the title race ahead of a crucial trip to face Liverpool at Anfield on April 27.


To add your event to The National listings, click here

Get the most from The National