South Africans in Pakistan urge tour to go ahead

South Africa’s beleaguered cricket administrators received strong encouragement to go ahead with their on-off tour of Pakistan on Tuesday when a group of fellow countrymen in that country said they would find the trip “brilliant” and “fantastic”.

“The people overall have been very, very friendly and the hospitality all round has been fantastic,” television production director Hayley Muir told Supercricket from Karachi.

Muir is one of nine South Africans on the team that produced pictures of the recently concluded series between Pakistan and Bangladesh.

“It’s difficult being a South African in Pakistan at the moment because the level of disappointment is so strong. The most common question I am asked is ‘Madam, what is your country?’ For the last seven weeks people were thrilled and excited when I said South Africa but now they are sad and confused. They just don’t understand why they pulled out,” Muir said.

Muir said the Europeans on the production crew had “never felt hotel-bound” and had been out to restaurants and markets in both Karachi and Peshawar “without ever feeling threatened.”

Whilst acknowledging that an international cricket team may be targeted for a high-impact attack, Muir said her cameramen and other production crew were “in amongst the crowd and interacting with people all the time without once being intimidated or threatened.”

Muir’s team were given an armed escort by the country’s Rangers between the hotel and the ground: “They were excellent, a lot of them having overseas training and speaking impeccable English. There is significant security at the grounds and hotels, too, and it feels highly organised,” Muir said.

“I sympathise with the players feeling nervous but I can’t help feeling they are only nervous because they just don’t know what it’s like here. We can honestly say that we have had a fantastic tour so far and it’s going to be very, very sad if it comes to an abrupt ending like this.”

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