x Abu Dhabi, UAE Friday 21 July 2017

Younus: don't let our cricket perish

Younus Khan, the Pakistan captain, has urged authorities to help keep international cricket alive in his country despite this week's terrorist attack on the Sri Lanka team.

LAHORE // Younus Khan, the Pakistan captain, has urged authorities to help keep international cricket alive in his country despite this week's terrorist attack on the Sri Lanka team. The attack on Tuesday, which killed six policemen and a civilian besides injuring seven members of the Sri Lanka touring party, had imperilled the future of the sport in Pakistan, with international cricket unlikely in the near term.

"I appeal for all the bosses and the ICC [International Cricket Council] to not let cricket die here," Younus told Cricinfo.com yesterday. "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. "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."

Prior to Sri Lanka's visit, Pakistan had long been a no-go zone for foreign cricket teams, with Australia, India and the West Indies refusing visits, and the Champions Trophy called off on security grounds. "Sport helps to make good human beings," Younus said. "If the sport is not there, the children can do silly things. Nobody wants to see children going down a bad path and finding themselves involved with bombs and things like that."

The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chairman Ijaz Butt said on Wednesday that the future of international cricket returning to Pakistan looked bleak if the security situation did not improve. But Younus, a middle- order batsman, said it was important young Pakistanis be inspired by seeing international cricket. "Maybe in the future we will be alone [as a cricketing nation] and that would be very sad - especially for the youngsters," he said.

"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?" With home internationals unlikely for some time, Younus said the Pakistan players will pursue their careers in lucrative Twenty20 leagues in India - the Indian Cricket League (ICL) and Indian Premier League (IPL) - and England's domestic game.

"If something is not done quickly, maybe everyone goes to the IPL, ICL or county cricket," he added. "I hope that does not happen." * AP