LAHORE: International Cricket Council (ICC) chief executive David Richardson said Wednesday that if security in Pakistan continued to remain satisfactory and kept on improving then the country would host ICC events in the coming days. “The World XI’s tour has marked the start of the revival of international cricket in Pakistan,” he told reporters during a press conference at Gaddafi Stadium after his arrival from Dubai. Also present on the occasion was Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chairman Najam Sethi. Richardson added that the World XI’s tour to Pakistan ushered a new beginning for the country. “The World XI tour will send out a positive message to the world cricket community that the security situation in Pakistan has improved and satisfactory,” Richardson said. The World XI, led by the South African captain Faf du Plessis, is in Pakistan for a three-match T20 international series. The tour has been backed by the ICC, which has borne expenses for the visit of security experts to Pakistan to finalise the security arrangements for the series.
Sethi told reporters that he was grateful to Richardson for the role he had played for reviving international cricket in the country. “We are a peace-loving nation and really looking forward to other teams coming to Pakistan and playing here,” Sethi maintained. Richardson made it clear that if everything went according to plan, ICC could plan more events in Pakistan. He also appreciated the efforts of the security forces for providing a secure environment for playing cricket. “Pakistan is an unavoidable part of the international cricket community and the Pakistani people are very passionate about the game. The ICC is very serious about reviving international cricket in the country and we are happy the first step has been taken with the World XI tour.”
The ICC official said security issue was not just confined to Pakistan but was a global concern. “There are security concerns in other sports as well in the world. We decided to support this tour after a very positive report by Giles Clarke,” he said. Clarke heads the ICC’s special task force on Pakistan cricket and has been given a royal treatment while visiting Lahore with the World XI squad. Richardson, however, made it clear that restoration of international cricket in Pakistan would be a slow process as tours by ICC member nations would all be linked to the prevailing security situation in the country.
“It is a step by step process and will take time. But the first step has been taken with this tour.” He said if Pakistan Super League matches were held in Pakistan it would help in boosting the confidence of the international cricket community about the security situation in the country.
To a question about cricket with India, he replied: “The PCB has been trying to have a series with India and it has taken up this issue with the ICC. We don’t want ICC members resorting to taking legal action against each other.” The ICC chief executive said the cricket governing body would continue financially assisting the security company that is looking after events in Pakistan for three more years.
Windies to tour Pakistan in November: Pakistan is set to host the West Indies in a short three-match Twenty20 series in Lahore at the end of November this year, Sethi said. “The agreement with the West Indies Cricket Board has been finalised and done and they have confirmed they will come to Lahore in November to play three T20 Internationals.” Sethi said the itinerary for the matches against West Indies would be announced soon. He also informed that Sri Lanka had also confirmed to play a lone T20 international on October 29 in Lahore. “I am still trying to convince Sri Lanka to play at least two matches in the coming series in Lahore.” If both the tours materialise, it would be the first time since the militants attack on the Sri Lankan team in Lahore in March, 2009 that Pakistan would witness a proper international season at home, starting with the ongoing tour by the World XI. No top Test playing nation have visited Pakistan due to security concerns since the deadly attack on the Sri Lankan team in which at least six Pakistani policemen were killed. Although the PCB did manage to bring Zimbabwe to Lahore for a short limited over series in May, 2015, those matches were not approved by the International Cricket Council. Sethi said the tour by the West Indies was
an important milestone as it would be a proper bilateral series in Pakistan and it would open the windows for the PCB to negotiate with other cricket playing nations.
Published in Daily Times, September 14th 2017.