Ajar door opens wider: West Indies to play in Pakistan

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By: Express News Service |
Published:September 14, 2017 3:09 am


Mounted police officers patrol in front of Gaddafi Cricket Stadium ahead of the World XI cricket series in Lahore, Pakistan September 11, 2017. (Source: Reuters)

Buoyed by the smooth progress of the ongoing Independence Cup, ICC chief executive David Richardson spoke about the global body’s intention to bring Full Members for cricket series in Pakistan in the near future.

The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chairman Najam Sethi said Sri Lanka have already agreed to play a one-off T20 International in Lahore on October 29, while West Indies would come for a three-match T20 series in November. Save Zimbabwe, no ICC Full Member toured Pakistan for the past seven years after the 2009 terror attack on the Sri Lanka national cricket team.

Pakistan had been playing their home matches in the UAE.

“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,” Richardson said at a press conference in Lahore, adding: “The intention would be to bring more PSL (Pakistan Super League) matches to Pakistan and also to bring Full Member countries to tour Pakistan; not a World XI tour.”

The ICC reportedly has made a $1.1 million investment on security for cricket in Pakistan over the next three years.

“A very positive report by Giles Clarke” after his visit to Pakistan as the head of the ICC’s special task force paved the way for the World XI tour.

“The World XI tour will send out a positive message to the world cricket community that the security situation in Pakistan has improved and is satisfactory,” Richardson said, describing international cricket’s revival (bilateral series) in Pakistan as a “step by step process”, which “will take time”.

Sethi, on the other hand, spoke about the upcoming short series against Sri Lanka and West Indies while envisaging a bilateral series against South Africa next year, based on the feedback of five South African cricketers playing for the World XI in Lahore.

Process of convincing

“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.

“I am still trying to convince Sri Lanka to play at least two matches in the coming series in Lahore,” he added.

Sethi hoped that with time other Test venues in Pakistan would also get to host international matches.

“Right now, we are compelled to play only in Lahore but obviously with time, we will schedule matches at other Test venues like Karachi, Faisalabad, Rawalpindi and Multan.” According to the PCB chief, Karachi would be hosting “at least four matches” of the PSL next year.

The World XI players have been provided head-of-state-like security for the ongoing series. And although the Gaddafi Stadium witnessed a full house for the first two matches, the cricket-loving public had to go through very stringent security rigours.

“Right now, we can’t take any risks. We know the security plans being enforced for the World XI matches are causing some inconvenience to the people. As we host more foreign teams, we will have relaxations but without compromising on the security for visiting teams or our players,” Sethi explained.

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