Kumar Sangakkara, the former Sri Lanka skipper who is all set to become the first non-British president of the Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC), has raised concerns that England’s tour to Sri Lanka which will take place next year could be in doubt due to the recent Easter terror attacks in April on churches in Sri Lanka which claimed the lives of 258 people. Sangakkara, who was part of the Sri Lanka team that had survived the Lahore terror attack in which terrorists targeted their team bus, had said there needs to be an open conversation and total commitment on providing security.
"I was in the bus in 2009 when the Sri Lanka team got attacked and I understand the reservations and the security concerns that come after such an incident or even as an observer looking from the outside in. We need a very open conversation with the necessary security aspects that are in place, make sure there are independent assessments done, that the boards connect openly and fully. We always talk about cricket transcending politics and that has to be the case with tours, as long as security and safety are assured, and there is an honest commitment from every country to put those security measures in place,” Sangakkara said.
Ever since the terror attacks took place in Lahore in March 2009, Pakistan has not had the chance to play international cricket in their country. All their Tests and ODIs for over five years were played in the UAE, which was their home ground. In 2015, Zimbabwe was the first country to tour there and after that, there were tours from an ICC World XI, West Indies and Sri Lanka in 2017.
For Sri Lanka, the country has also hosted cricket and Sangakkara pointed out it was in ‘trying circumstances’. Ever since Sri Lanka gained Test status in 1982, the country was plagued by LTTE terrorism. In 1987 and 1992, the New Zealand cricket team narrowly escaped two suicide bomb attacks while in 1996, the ICC World Cup was almost in danger of being shifted out from Sri Lanka after a terror attack in Colombo just on the eve of the tournament resulted in Australia and West Indies not travelling to Colombo.
In the 2019 ICC Cricket World Cup, the format is round-robin and Sangakkara has said the way England are playing ODI cricket, they have revolutionised it but added the likes of Pakistan and West Indies are dangerous. “The West Indies are an incredible T20 side and it's great to see they're more open to their best players representing them. A strong West Indies side means strong world cricket. Pakistan are always inconsistent but if they get to the playoffs, they can beat any side in the world,” Sangakkara said.
Sri Lanka opens their ICC Cricket World Cup campaign on June 1 against New Zealand in Cardiff while the first match of the World Cup will take place on May 30 between England and South Africa at The Oval.