Image courtesy of: Cricketireland.ie
Pakistan and Ireland played two ODIs in May
Cricket Ireland chief executive Warren Deutrom has announced that the national team would highly consider being the first international side since Sri Lanka in March 2009 to tour Pakistan if security protocols were up to standards.
Pakistan have not hosted an international cricket match or series since the Sri Lankan national team were ambushed by armed militants in March 2009, resulting in the deaths of eight locals and six players being injured.
Deutrom revealed he had talked to many of the Ireland players about the tour and noted that it was important to ensure “the door remains open” for international teams to tour Pakistan.
“The PCB needs to hear that the lines of communication are open and that we want to play cricket in their country,” Deutrom told the Press Association. “What we are saying is that we are willing to contemplate any invitation.”
Ireland were invited to tour Pakistan in January after Bangladesh pulled out at the last minute, but once again, like all other teams, the board and players were concerned about the highly volatile security situation in the war-torn country.
“The reason I say that is because we are probably the nation that has an instinctive sympathy for Pakistan’s position,” Deutrom said. “We spent the 1970s, 80s and 90s trying to get other teams to play in Northern Ireland during the Troubles.
“We have an understanding of what they are going through and we feel we are in a position where we could possibly help. We know the damage that this has to the profile of the sport in the country. Pakistan is obviously a cricket-mad country and not having tours affects the fans and revenues.”
However, Deutrom is working on scheduling a couple of matches between Pakistan and Ireland in January next year as the sub-continent cricketing powerhouse will be in the United Arab Emirates, which has become their ‘home’ ground over the past couple of years, during that period of time.
“We are aware that Pakistan are playing in the UAE in January of next year,” Deutrom said. “If nothing else there may be an opportunity for Ireland to play some matches there and that could in turn open the doors for further discussions on touring Pakistan.
“But looking further afield we have a number of irons in the fire. The problem is working into the Future Tours Programme, which is a hectic schedule. We haven’t yet toured places like England or Australia but I don’t doubt that will be possible in the future.”
Ireland’s last bi-lateral tour came against Zimbabwe in 2010, where the Zimbabwean government assured they would be safe.
The same sort of assurances would have to be made by the Pakistani government if Ireland were to even consider stepping foot in the country.
“If Pakistan do invite us, and we welcome that, we would go through a three-step process,” Deutrom said. “One would be to get the views of the Governments both north and south of the border regarding safety. Secondly we would need an independent risk assessment of the dangers and then finally we would need to speak to the players.”