LAHORE: Former Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chairman Shaharyar Khan reckons that the proposed Pakistan Super League (PSL) will not serve its purpose of bringing international cricket back to the country.
And he has his reasons for holding those reservations.
“The security situation in Pakistan has deteriorated further in the last couple of years and in my personal opinion, no country will send its team here at this moment in time,” Shaharyar told Dawn in an exclusive interview.
“I wish I’m wrong in claiming that the PSL will not be able to attract top-ranked cricketers but as the PCB is investing heavily, second or third-grade players might be attracted to it.
“However, that will not fulfil its purpose of convincing teams to come and play in Pakistan.”
Regarding that, he counts out the possibility of India, England or Australia touring Pakistan in the coming years.
“The BCCI follows its government’s instructions in any ties with Pakistan while the UK and Australia are part of the Nato forces so they won’t be sending their teams either,” he said.
Shaharyar, who has also held the post of Pakistan’s secretary of foreign affairs in his illustrious career, is of the view that even though Pakistan toured India recently, the current situation at the Line of Control (LoC) reduces the possibility of a bilateral series to a bare minimal.
“In the past, cross-firing at the LoC was a routine matter but this time around the Indian reaction has been so strong that our hockey players had to return home [from participating in the Indian Hockey League],” he said.
However, he suggests the PCB to involve the Pakistan and UAE governments in order to get a special concession in organising ‘home series’ there and also mentions South Africa as an option.
“We have to play our home series at neutral venues in the next few years and if the government plays a role, the cost of holding the series in the UAE can be reduced remarkably,” he said.
“However, India will not play against Pakistan in the UAE as they have a lot of reservations over match-fixing in the Gulf state so South Africa could be an ideal option as both countries have a good fan base there.
“The ICC should come forward in chalking out a series plan between the two arch-rivals in South Africa as it would be beneficial for the game.”
Shaharyar suggested that PCB chairman Zaka Ashraf should make all out efforts to convince cricketing nations into sending their ‘A’ teams or Under-19 teams or even their national school teams to Pakistan.
“A national level team at any level can serve our purpose better instead of the PSL,” he said.
He also informed that Ireland is ready to send its national team.
“During my visit to Dublin a few years ago, I met the officials of the Ireland cricket authorities and they were ready to visit Pakistan,” he said.
“Recently, in an exchange of messages, they were a bit reluctant but they haven’t refused entirely and the PCB should negotiate with them.”
Shaharyar further added that England Cricket Board chief Giles Clarke supported revival of international cricket in Pakistan in his recommendations to the ICC Task Force but “the ICC did not implement” them.
He also lamented the Lahore attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team in 2009.
Shaharyar, however, doesn’t completely agree with the PCB adopting a tit-for-tat policy with Bangladesh after they did not send their team for a tour despite committing to do so twice.
“I admit the BCB did not fulfil their commitment but it would’ve been better if the PCB had lodged their protest to the BCB directly instead of stopping players from featuring in the Bangladesh Premier League,” he asserted.
“Their public loves our cricketers and these actions will ultimately damage the unity of the Asian bloc and we can hope that they realise the steps we’ve taken to help them.”
But the former PCB chief lauds the work done by Zaka in improving ties with Sri Lanka and Bangladesh which had been at an all-time low during Ijaz Butt’s regime at the PCB helm.
“They [relationships] had fallen to their lowest ebb but Zaka has done well to revive them,” he said.
“Personal level contacts between the heads of the cricket boards are very important as it helps in solving issues in a better way.”