An Item in The Island, 18 October 2017 with the title “Wars, riots and abandoned tours”
A Sri Lankan player boards a Pakistan military helicopter after terrorists opened fire on the team bus during the 2009 tour.
The dramatic announcement on Friday (October 17), that West Indies would be cutting short their tour of India because of a pay dispute, was not the first time a major international cricket series had come to an unexpected end. Here’s a snapshot of several other tours that ended abruptly in unusual circumstances.
West Indies in England, 1939: The outbreak of the Second World War saw the last seven matches of the tour cancelled, with the West Indies’ party boarding a boat in Scotland to sail back to the Caribbean.
England in Pakistan, 1968-69: Political and student unrest dogged the tour throughout, but it seemed the series would be played out to a finish when the teams arrived in Karachi for the third and final Test. However, a riot on the third morning saw the match abandoned and the series tied at 0-0 when England’s Alan Knott was 96 not out — four short of what would have been his maiden Test century.
India in Pakistan, 1984-85: The assassination of Indira Gandhi, the Indian Prime Minister, sparked 13 days of national mourning and saw the final three matches cancelled.
New Zealand in Sri Lanka, 1986-87: The hastily arranged tour comprising three Tests and four One-Day Internationals was called off during the first Test after a car bomb exploded near the New Zealand team hotel in Colombo, killing many people. [an error here .. see NOTE at end]
New Zealand in Pakistan, 2002: The tour was originally scheduled to take place in September 2001 but was called off for security reasons after the 9/11 terrorist attacks in the United States of America. Instead, New Zealand toured Pakistan in April 2002 for three ODIs and two Tests. A bomb blast outside the New Zealand team hotel shortly before the start of the second Test in Karachi immediately cut short the tour. It was also the last time New Zealand toured Pakistan.
South Africa in Sri Lanka, 2006: South Africa were in Sri Lanka for two Tests, and India were supposed to join the two teams for an ODI tri-series. But a bomb exploded outside the South African team hotel before the start of the tri-series, following which, after two days of deliberation, South Africa eventually decided to pull out. India stayed on to play a three-match bilateral ODI series, which eventually couldn’t get underway due to excessive rains.
Sri Lanka in Pakistan, 2008-09 Sri Lanka were travelling in their team bus on the way to the second Test in Lahore when terrorists opened fire, injuring six members of the Lankan tour party. Sri Lanka went home and no major international matches have since taken place in Pakistan because of security fears.
West Indies in India, 2014: A protracted pay dispute between the West Indies players and their own board eventually led to the tour being cut short after Friday’s fourth ODI. This followed a near player strike before the tour had even got underway, on the eve of the first ODI in Kochi, but with issues remaining unresolved, matters came to a head soon.