Pakistan ‘hardest hit’ by security concerns
ICC chief executive David Richardson has sympathised with Pakistan’s ongoing struggle to bring international cricket back to the country.
He was in Lahore yesterday to present Misbah-ulHaq with the Test mace for Pakistan being ranked the number one team in the world.
Barring one series, Pakistan have not been able to host Full Members at home since the attack on a touring Sri Lankan team in Lahore in 2009.
Zimbabwe had visited in 2015 for a limited-overs series, but during the second ODI on May 29, there had been a “suicide attack” on the outer edge of the three tiers of security that was in place. Zimbabwe left the country only after completing the tour though.
“The fact is that ICC is keen for everybody to play international cricket, including Pakistan,” Richardson said.
“The more teams we can have the better. However, circumstances around the world really have gotten quite difficult, from a security point of view and Pakistan has probably been the hardest hit than any other country.
“The ICC members have always tried to support Pakistan by making sure that they are willing to play Pakistan in the UAE and elsewhere to keep cricket going at least internationally even though it’s not in Pakistan.”
On a personal level, Richardson felt the measures the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) and the government have put in place made it safe for teams to come and play.
“It’s actually quite easy for you to convince me that international cricket returns to Pakistan, but unfortunately it’s not me or the ICC that needs to be convinced,” Richardson said.
“It’s the security experts, it’s the security consultants who are advising the players who are advising the teams and that’s really out of our control.
“I know that the Pakistan government and the PCB are doing whatever they can to try and persuade the people and make security situation better in Pakistan.
“Pretty soon we’ll get to a situation where teams are willing to play international cricket in Pakistan.’’
The PCB relies heavily on the government to arrange security for the visiting teams, but it has bought four bulletproof buses as part of the efforts to provide the “best possible” protection for players visiting the country.
In this seven-year isolation, the PCB has suffered financially, having to arrange matches in the UAE and missing out on bilateral series against India.
This prompted PCB chairman Shaharyar Khan to suggest the board should receive a “higher percentage of the income” from matches against India at ICC events. Richardson confirmed the ICC received the application and that it would be up for discussion in an upcoming meeting.
“We take every application seriously on those lines,” he said. “It came late in the day [during ICC annual conference in July] but we will discuss it in the financial committee meeting next month in October and then in the board.
“ICC members are actually renewing the whole financial model of international cricket at the moment and certainly the PCB’s request will be considered.” — ESPNCricinfo