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LAHORE: The explosion of talents in the rural areas of Pakistan reinvented the game of cricket while since inception of Pakistan cricket remained at top with the performance of legendary Fazal Mehmood.

This was stated by Peter Oborne, the celebrated British writer and author of Wounded Tiger: A History of Cricket in Pakistan, during a discussion on ‘Cricket in Pakistan’ held under the auspices of the Centre for Governance and Policy at the Information Technology University (ITU) Punjab here on Friday. The session was also attended by Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chairman Najam Sethi.

In a country hit by ethnic, religious and regional violence, cricket had served as a massive uniting force for Pakistanis, said Oborne.

Recalling the successes of Pakistan, Oborne further stated that it was the country which had registered great success against all the Test-playing countries and produced the world-class talent in abundance.

Oborne lauded all of PCB’s work and added that cricket had always been a symbol of independence in Pakistan while keeping up the game was a remarkable achievement of the country’s cricket board.

Sethi, also speaking on the occasion, said over the years the game of cricket has been recognised as national identity while the PCB’s efforts to revitalise the sport have been monumental.

He said those efforts were exerted on two fronts — improving the management and the game itself.

Sethi recalled the long path he took to clean up the organisation that was previously rooted in corruption, lethargy, and bureaucratic red tape. He said the PCB did diplomacy with which it succeeded in convincing foreign players to play in Pakistan as part of the World XI.

He expressed hope that India would abide by the rules drawn in the MoUs signed in 2014 with them for the resumption of the bilateral cricket between the two countries.

“The PCB was all set to take the case to the ICC against India for not complying with the MoUs in December this year,” reiterated the PCB chief.

Sethi further said the PCB would honour its heroes Shahid Afridi, Misbah-ul- Haq and Younis Khan on Sept 14 for their remarkable services rendered for Pakistan cricket. The three stalwarts announced their retirements from international cricket this year.

He hoped that international cricket would also return to Karachi next year after holding four matches of the PSL next year. “A whopping Rs1.5 billion is being spent to renovate the National Stadium, Karachi and also on completing the bio-mechanics lab in Lahore,” he said.

He, however, lamented that criminal negligence has almost closed down the Gharhi Khuda Bux and Bugti stadiums.

Published in Dawn, September 9th, 2017