Islamabad: After nearly a decade without hosting home test matches due to terrorist attack on rival team’s bus in 2009, Pakistan says it is ready to welcome big cricket nations like Africa South, New Zealand, England and the West Indies in 2021.
“We work a lot in terms of relationship building, nurturing those relationships with (other) cricket boards,” Wasim Khan, managing director of the Pakistan Cricket Board, told The Associated Press.
South Africa is due to travel to Pakistan in January to compete in a two-test series that is part of the World Test Championship, followed by three Twenty20s.
New Zealand are listed for three ODIs and five Twenty20s in September, followed by two Twenty20s against England in Karachi. This will be England’s first tour of Pakistan since 2005.
The PCB is also planning a home series against the West Indies in December.
“We have an eight to ten month shock coming for us on the road playing at home,” Khan said. “We are also in discussions with Cricket Australia. They are due to be on tour in the 2022 season, we are expecting them for an extended period. “
When the Sri Lankan team bus suffered a terrorist attack in March 2009, the doors of international cricket remained closed on Pakistan until Zimbabwe became the first test country to play a limited series in Lahore. in 2015.
A bus carrying Sri Lankan cricketers, part of a larger convoy, was shot down by 12 gunmen near the Gaddafi stadium in Lahore. The cricketers were on their way to play on day three of the second test against Pakistan.
Six Pakistani policemen and two civilians were killed and six members of the Sri Lankan team were injured. The remainder of the test match and tour has been canceled.
Trial cricket didn’t return to Pakistan until the end of last year, when Sri Lanka played two five-day matches in Rawalpindi and Karachi. Bangladesh also played a test match before its second test was canceled due to COVID-19.
Between tours to Zimbabwe and Bangladesh, a franchise-based national Twenty20 league – the Pakistan Super League – has been instrumental in Pakistan’s claim to host international matches.
Players like Shane Watson from Australia and South Africans Dale Steyn and AB de Villiers were some of the big names who toured Pakistan and played for various franchise teams based in the city. Khan believes that these players have played an important role in portraying the improving image of Pakistan among cricketing nations.
“A lot of these players go back to their own countries… and say, you know what? Pakistan is one of the safest places to gamble, ”Khan said. “These are the cricketers who are associated with their own cricketers, who are international cricketers, who perhaps had a (different) perception of Pakistan before coming here.”
Strict security with cricket team buses heavily guarded by armed personnel is quite normal in Pakistan whenever foreign contingents come to the stadium from hotels, often blocking already heavy traffic on the main roads of the big cities like Lahore and Karachi.
“Yes, we will continue to provide state level security for as long as possible, we will never become complacent,” Khan said.
Khan also wants to stage a limited series against neighboring Afghanistan somewhere next year, after Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan, the country’s former cricket captain, visited Kabul and invited the Afghan national team this week. .
“We will do everything we can to find a place in the calendar to host matches against Afghanistan,” Wasim Khan said.
Although Khan has managed to liaise with almost every cricket commission around the world since joining the PCB last year, he does not expect a resumption of the cricket rivalry between Pakistan and India so early.
Political tensions between India and Pakistan, especially over a long-standing territorial dispute in the Kashmir region, have seen the two countries face off only in major international tournaments like the Champions Trophy and World Cups. .
“Should we play against India? Absolutely, ”Khan said. “Could we play them?” Probably not in the foreseeable future. “