Ashraf was all smiles as he revealed international cricket may return to Pakistan very soon
International cricket could be on its way back to Pakistan after the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) revealed that they were in talks with five cricket Boards about a tour of the country.
PCB chairman Zaka Ashraf stated that he was very pleased with the way the tournament between the World XI and Pakistan XI went, and hopes that this will convince other international teams that Pakistan is a safe place to play cricket in once again.
“I think these matches are a good step and we supported and encouraged these matches. Despite being private matches they generated a lot of enthusiasm from the fans and will help us in our endeavours to convince big teams to play in Pakistan,” Ashraf said.
The two matches between the World XI and Pakistan XI saw the return of international cricket to the shores of Pakistan after a three-year drought.
Since the Sri Lanka national team were attacked by militants when touring the country in March 2009, every international team has refused to play Pakistan at home, citing security fears as the number one reason.
Former players from Sri Lanka, South Africa and the West Indies, along with current squad members from Afghanistan and USA made up the World XI squad.
The tournament was organised by Dr Mohammad Ali Shah, the sports minister of Sindh province.
Ashraf stated that he was ecstatic to see the number of people that had turned up to watch the two matches.
“The people have sent out a very positive message to the outside world that they should come and play in Pakistan,” Ashraf added.
Ashraf also revealed some of the boards the PCB were in negotiations with.
“When you talk of international cricket, we are in negotiations with Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe cricket boards. I was in Colombo recently and I talked to them about sending their team. We are talking to two other boards as well but I am not going to reveal names. We have given them security plans and hope good results will come soon, we will give you good news regarding the resumption of international cricket in Pakistan very soon, maybe in 2013. I am sure the day is not far when we have big time cricket in Karachi, Lahore and other cities,” Ashraf said.
Recently the Bangladesh team were all set to go to Pakistan, but their tour was cancelled at the last moment due to a restraining order passed by the Dhaka High Court.
The West Indies A squad have also tried convincing the PCB to host their matches in the United Arab Emirates, which is now known as Pakistan’s ‘home’ ground, but the PCB refused and insisted that the West Indies A squad must come and play in their country.
Ashraf also mentioned that the Board were looking for ex-players to help revive cricket in the country.
“We are taking ex cricketers with us on the matter because we need their services for the revival of the game. We are doing our efforts and hope that cricket will be revived on our grounds,” Ashraf added.