Opinion: Common sense abandoned by Zim

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Zimbabwe's cricketers have boarded a plane to Pakistan, departing Harare on Monday afternoon after much uncertainty, and the cricket world will watch the next 10 days with bated breath, hoping that the only drama happens between bat and ball.

If all goes according to plan, Zimbabwe will contest the first international series in the Asian country in six years, but against the advice of three separate security reviews, Zimbabwe's foreign office, and the ICC (who have refused to send their own match officials).

Let's preface the following missive by saying that no-one is begrudging Pakistan's fans in Lahore, nor their hard-working players, the chance to visit the Gaddafi Stadium. That they're doing it in the presence of 4000 policemen and 20 hidden snipers is the issue.

Pakistan is not a safe country to travel to. As a bombing in Karachi last week showed, though one is aware that Karachi is 16 hours away from Lahore, the region is not stable, and there's a reason cricket teams have refused, till now, to go there.

The fact that most of the players in Pakistan's team right now have never played in front of a packed crowd of their own fans, and instead have spent much of their careers in empty concrete coliseums in the UAE, is such a shame. No-one is denying that.

But Zimbabwe's cricketers are not indispensable, and should not be that desperate for a game of cricket that they're willing to ignore the advice of countless experts, and will subject themselves to security measures given only to heads of state.

Cricinfo's man on the ground wrote: "A dress rehearsal was carried out on Saturday, with police commandos escorting two empty buses from the team hotel to Gaddafi Stadium and back. The route between the hotel and stadium was cleared of traffic and shielded by armed policemen at 100m intervals. Every road leading to the stadium and hotel was patrolled."

When a helicopter pad is built at your hotel, and said helicopter will hover over practices and matches with armed soldiers inside, that should make you wonder if whatever terms have been agreed to are worth it. Whether Zimbabwe's board, cash-strapped at the best of times, has been paid to get their players over to Pakistan, we don't know.

We do know that Pakistan's government is spending massive amounts on making sure the teams are safe, but can they plug every gap? Will security at the venue be able to check every single person that goes through the gate? Has every staff member in the hotel been vetted?

This worrying, even paranoia, may all be irrelevant in two weeks' time. The sides will likely play two uneventful T20s and three entertaining and drama-free ODIs. Everyone hopes so, because the end goal is to get the game back to Pakistan so that Australia or South Africa will go there. So that Misbah can end his career in front of more than 45 people.

Common sense seems to have been abandoned in favour of emotion and 'making history'. If anything happens to any of these players, even a case of food poisoning, all hell will break loose.

Is it worth the risk? Pakistan fans will say yes, understandably so, starved as they are for their team. But ask yourself, would you send your son on this tour? Thought not.

Lindsay du Plessis

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