The COVID-19 pandemic would go down as one of the biggest calamities that has affected the cricketing world till date. There have been a few other calamities that has affected an ongoing tour, but none as big as this. Let’s cast our mind back to the past where cricket was affected due to natural calamities or other consequences.
#1, INDIA TOUR OF PAKISTAN, 1984
A Test series that was supposed to be a fantastic advertisement for the game of cricket – India visited arch-rivals Pakistan in late 1984 for a 5-match Test series that was set to pit the Sunil Gavaskar-led India against Imran Khan’s bevy of talented cricketers.
The first two matches ended up as draws, effectively turning the series into a 3-match winner takes all series. But the tragic assassination of Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi led to the Indian team being recalled, thus ending the tour prematurely. A decision was then taken to shelve the tour altogether, with no plans of rescheduling it at a later date.
#2, NEW ZEALAND TOUR OF PAKISTAN, 2002
The New Zealand cricket team was due to tour Pakistan from September to October 2001 for a Test match and ODI series. But the 9/11 terror attacks led to the tour being postponed to April-May 2005.
When the Kiwis revisited Pakistan for the Test series, there was to be another terror attack that would cause the tour to be abandoned. A bomb exploded outside the New Zealand team hotel just hours before the start of the second Test in Karachi, and the security threats posed by such an attack led to the rightful abandonment of the series.
#3, SRI LANKA TOUR OF NEW ZEALAND, 2004-05
New Zealand were hosting Sri Lanka for a 5 match ODI series and 2 Test matches in late 2004 and early 2005. However, only one ODI happened before a disastrous natural calamity struck the whole of Southern Asia. Sri Lanka was also one of the countries that was affected by the severe Tsunami. The Sri Lankan team pulled off the series to show solidarity to their afflicted countrymen.
Sri Lanka later toured New Zealand in December 2005 and early 2006.
#4, SOUTH AFRICA TOUR OF SRI LANKA, 2006
South Africa were scheduled to play two Tests in Sri Lanka followed by a Tri-Nation ODI series that included India, the hosts whitewashed the guests by winning both the Tests. Just when the Tri series was about to start, a series of bomb blasts in the Sri Lankan capital following a political conflict forced the South Africans to pull out of the series.
#5, ENGLAND TOUR OF INDIA, 2008
Following the terror attack in Mumbai, the last two ODIs of the seven match ODI series between England and India hosted by India was scrapped. England toured India to play 7 ODIs and 2 Tests in November-December 2008 in which India took a 5-0 series victory. England flew back home waiting for the confirmation on the Test series.
However, the Test matches were shifted from Ahmedabad and Mumbai to Chennai and Mohali later in December. India went on to win the series 1-0 with a win in Chennai and a draw in Mohali.
#6, SRI LANKA TOUR OF PAKISTAN, 2008-09
Touring Pakistan for a series had become one of the major issues for teams as they were unsure of the situation. In 2009, with Pakistan government offering “Presidential Security”, Sri Lanka were prepared to tour Pakistan for a 3 ODIs and a 2 Test series. The ODI series concluded smoothly with the guests snatching the series 2-1.
It all seemed to be going smoothly till the 2nd Test at Lahore. The Sri Lankan team bus was attacked by masked gunmen in which six of the team’s security detail personnel and two civilians were deceased. On top of it, five Sri Lankan players were injured including Mahela Jayawardene who was captaining the side, Kumar Sangakkara, Ajantha Mendis, Thilan Samaraweera and Tharanga Paranavitana. This terror attack turned out to be one of the darkest days in cricket. The last Test was inevitably called-off.
#7, WEST INDIES TOUR OF INDIA, 2014
The West Indies tour of India in 2014 would go down as one of the most controversial abandonments. West Indies were supposed to play 5 ODIs and 3 Tests and 1 T20I against India, starting with the ODIs. The third ODI was abandoned because of Cyclone HudHud at Vizag.
However, the series started with a lot of complications between the West Indies Cricket Board and their players. The West Indian players were reluctant of playing the series as their board hadn’t cleared their dues, but with the involvement of BCCI, the West Indies cricket board promised to pay the dues and the series began on schedule. In the 4th ODI, Dwayne Bravo who was captaining the side came along with his full squad and announced they would be pulling out of the rest of the series as they did not receive dues as promised. West Indies played the 4th ODI and abandoned the rest of the series that comprised of 1 ODI and 3 Tests.
#8, BANGLADESH TOUR OF NEW ZEALAND, 2019
Just before the 2019 ODI World Cup, as preparation, Bangladesh were touring New Zealand for three ODIs and three Tests in Feb-Mar 2019. The tour kicked off with the ODIs where the hosts whitewashed Bangladesh 3-0. It was all gloomy for the guests in the Tests as well, as they had lost both the Tests of the three match series, a whitewash was hovering around them, until disaster struck.
A day before the third Test at Hagley Oval, Christchurch, with Bangladeshi players en route to their daily prayers at a nearby mosque, a mad gunman opened fire just before they could reach the mosque. The gunman killed 49 people with several other civilian casualties, but the Bangladeshi players returned to the hotel without any harm. The third Test was called off.