Pak­istan ‘hard­est hit’ by se­cu­rity con­cerns

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Sport -

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

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