March 3, 2009 / 9:33 AM / 11 years ago

Top flight cricket in Pakistan may now stop

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - South Africa coach Mickey Arthur said the attack by gunmen on Sri Lanka’s team bus in Pakistan on Tuesday could signal the end of top-flight cricket in Pakistan for some time.

“Any loss of life is tragic but when it involves sport it just seems so senseless,” Arthur told Reuters. “The Sri Lankans are a fantastic bunch of guys who did not deserve to be subjected to something like this.

“Thank God none of them were killed. As far as Pakistan is concerned I’m afraid this could mean the end of international cricket in that country for the foreseeable future.”

Arthur said the South Africans felt uncomfortable when they visited Pakistan in 2007.

“When we toured there in October 2007 it was quite obvious we were existing and trying to do something normal in a very abnormal situation,” he said.

“Although we were surrounded by security and as satisfied as we could be with the arrangements made by Cricket South Africa, the Pakistan Cricket Board and the Pakistan government, it was very uncomfortable.”

The chief executive of South Africa’s players’ association, Tony Irish, said the attacks on the Sri Lankan team bus would forever change the way security was handled around touring sides.

“The big concern is that for the first time a team has been targeted and that adds a whole new dimension to security arrangements and planning,” Irish told Reuters.

MUCH POORER

Cricket South Africa chief executive Gerald Majola said the game would be much poorer for the attack.

“It’s the worst possible news for cricket and all cricket-loving nations,” Majola said. “Our thoughts are with all victims of this terrible attack as the cricket world comes to grips with this shocking news.”

Irish said SACA (the South African Cricketers’ Association) had sent their condolences to the Sri Lankan team and support staff.

“Our first thoughts are with the Sri Lankan players and their security team,” he said.

“They are the most likeable bunch of guys and we hope everything is being put in place to get them out of Pakistan safely.”

Writing by Ken Borland; Editing by Tony Jimenez

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