New Delhi: In a major blow to Pakistan cricket, the International Cricket Council (ICC) on Friday said Pakistan would not host 2011 World Cup matches because of security concerns.
After ICC's announcement Pakistan's future as an international cricket destination hits a dead end just two years before the World Cup is to be played in the sub-continent.
The decision to strip Pakistan of World Cup hosting rights has been taken 44 days after the attack on Sri Lanka's cricketers outside the Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore by a group of heavily armed terrorists.
"It is a regrettable decision but our number one priority is to create certainty and deliver a safe, secure and successful event. However, the uncertainty created by events within Pakistan created a huge question mark over our ability to do just that. By making this decision now we hope we can put a great deal of any uncertainty to one side and press on with our preparations which, given this is cricket's biggest and most high profile event within our range of tournaments, are substantial," said ICC President David Morgan.
Images of Sri Lankan cricketers returning home with bullet wounds after a near-death experience was the final straw.
Although there are two years to go for the World Cup but there was no chance of convincing any international cricketer agreeing to set foot in Pakistan in the near future.
"It's a disappointing decision but it can't be helped. Nobody wants to play in Pakistan following the attacks in Lahore," a disappointed Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) Chairman, Ijaz Butt, said.
With traditional ally the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) too pulling out its support for Pakistan in recent months, the PCB was left without any support.
They may still end up being branded as co-hosts with their home matches being played in the UAE or another off-shore venue, but it will be a while before international cricket returns to the playing fields of Pakistan.