“The guys who are giving us security, they are giving us not just 100% but more than 100%. That’s why we feel really good. We went out for dinner as well. I can say that Pakistan is now safe for cricket,” Sri Lanka skipper Dimuth Karunaratne had said after his team’s historic tour of Pakistan.
Pakistan’s emergence as a safe place to play international cricket was coming to fruition with the growth of PSL, and the arrival of Asian neighbours Sri Lanka and Bangladesh for Test cricket after a decade of international purgatory.
Pakistan Cricket Board was confident of Cricket South Africa sending the national team for a short tour of Pakistan in March 2020. PCB had arranged the March T20I series as a part of their ongoing drive to bring as many teams as possible to the country to normalize international cricket at home again.
South Africa’s tour was very much a certainty with the CSA planning to send a security delegation to Pakistan next month during the PSL to assess the situation.
The PCB had intended to make the South African team stay in Dubai – with the PSL ending on March 22 – and then fly them directly to Pakistan for the three T20Is in Rawalpindi.
However, as per recent reports, South Africa have decided to withdraw from touring Pakistan for three T20Is in March, citing ‘players workload’ as the reason. The tour was scheduled to happen following the India tour next month. The planned tour will be rescheduled after the two boards find a new window.
Pakistan’s last two ‘home’ series against South Africa were held in UAE in 2010 and 2013. South Africa haven’t played in Pakistan since 2007.
It should have come as no surprise if CSA administrators had pointed out grave security concerns for postponing the Pakistan tour. But South Africa opted to pinpoint players’ fatigue and workload as the main reason behind withdrawing their interest in touring Pakistan for three T20Is in March.
But is the South African team playing too many matches? If we look at the international calendar, South Africa have not been the busiest team since the World Cup 2019. They have played 13 matches across formats since then, tenth on the list among teams that play the three formats. Even the likes of Oman, Namibia, UAE, USA and PNG have played more international cricket than South Africa since the end of World Cup 2019.
10 busiest teams since the end of World Cup 2019
INDIA – 38 matches
WEST INDIES- 28 matches
NEW ZEALAND- 24 matches
OMAN- 23 matches
SRI LANKA- 23 matches
IRELAND- 23 matches
NAMIBIA- 20 matches
AUSTRALIA- 19 matches
NEPAL- 19 matches
SCOTLAND- 19 matches
UAE- 18 matches
India (38) have played most no. of matches during this period, with West Indies ranked second on the list with 28 matches and New Zealand are a distant third. And none of these teams have cited players’ fatigue and workload as a major reason to cancel or postpone any tour.
Also, when we look at the upcoming tours of South Africa, we find that they will be playing a total of 12 international matches till March 18.
England are currently touring South Africa for a T20I series, which was preceded by 4 Tests and 3 ODIs. In a span of five days after the last T20I against England, South Africa are hosting Australia for 3 T20Is and as many ODIs, with the last game scheduled on March 7. After the Australia series, they will fly to India for a 3-match T20I series, which will take place from 12th to 18th March.