LONDON: Trevor Bayliss and Paul Farbrace hope Pakistan can regularly host international cricket again, 10 years after the pair came under fire during a deadly attack in Lahore that left the country a no-go zone for sporting teams.
It was on March 3, 2009 that Sri Lanka’s team bus, taking the team to the Gaddafi Stadium for a Test against Pakistan, was hit by bullets and grenades in an attack by armed militants.
Eight police and bystanders were killed, with six others wounded in the incident.
England coach Bayliss and assistant Farbrace were both carrying out similar roles with Sri Lanka at the time.
“I was cleaning my sunglasses, and the next thing, the bus jolted,” Farbrace, who saw a piece of shrapnel draw blood when it struck his arm, told a BBC Test Match Special podcast marking the 10-year anniversary of the attack.
“I just turned and looked over my shoulder, looked out the window — I could see this guy moving towards us with a gun, firing this gun.”
It was six years until an international team visited again, with Pakistan forced to play the majority of their home games in the United Arab Emirates — a situation that continues to this day.
Minnows Zimbabwe were the first to venture into Pakistan after the attack, playing two T20 and three one-day internationals in 2015.
Under heavy security, Sri Lanka made an emotional return to the Gaddafi Stadium for a one-off T20 international in October 2017. The West Indies also played three T20 internationals in Karachi last May.
No place like home
“I honestly hope — I’ve always hoped — that international cricket will return to Pakistan,” said Farbrace.
“It’s a tough place to play cricket, but it’s an unbelievably passionate country for the game of cricket.
“The sadness for me is that you’ve got players now playing international cricket for Pakistan — there will be players that have played their entire career, international cricket for Pakistan — and never played a game in their own country.
“For me there’s almost a bit of unfinished business, and for me to go back there, and see international cricket played in Lahore — for the people that lost their lives, I think that would be, for them, to show that terrorism hasn’t stopped the game of cricket going ahead.”
Bayliss, who said Pakistan cricket fans were “some of the best in the world”, endorsed former Kent and Middlesex wicketkeeper Farbrace’s comments.
“Hopefully cricket does get back there,” Bayliss said.
As for his own memory of the attack, Bayliss said: “It was very calm. The only thing that was being said was on the bus, and no louder than this, was ‘oh, I’m hit’, ‘oh, so am I’, as the bullets were flying through and a bit of shrapnel.
“The calmness was the thing that stood out for me.”