LAHORE: While Ireland has hinted its team may soon come to Pakistan to play an international series, the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) says the current tour of Islamabad and Lahore by its official will help them in sending England team for a series here in 2022.
In their Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) podcast, ECB chief executive Tom Harrison and Cricket Ireland chief executive Warren Deutrom have described their visits to Islamabad and Lahore as successful and termed some of the initiatives taken by the local authorities as impressive.
“Speaking in the 16-minute sixth episode of the PCB podcast, Harrison said he was taking all the information home as it would help in considering fulfilling England cricket team’s obligation in 2022, while Deutrom indicated that Ireland may soon visit Pakistan for an international series,” a PCB press release said.
“This is really an important trip for us. We were invited by the PCB to come and look at the security provisions that are put in place to host big cricket international events. And, it is very important for us to see that first-hand, to meet key players in that security team, all of the decision-makers and work-out the steps that we need to take to assess the viability of an England tour of Pakistan in the future.
ECB chief’s visit to Islamabad, Lahore termed successful
“So, that’s really the objective as a first step. And that’s been a very valuable exercise for us to undertake and we have learnt a lot for being here first-hand,” the PCB press release quoted the Ireland and ECB officials as saying.
“Obviously, we have got a bit of time and that’s really important for us. We have been liaising with all of the right people over here, whether that is our High Commission in Islamabad, whether it is the Director of Security or Ministry of Interior and all of the various police forces.
“We had a real look at the incredible work that is going on in Lahore with the Safe City Project and the extraordinary reaction to past incidents that has been put in place here. And that’s been incredibly impressive.”
Talking about the next steps, Harrison said: “Now we need to take all that information home and start building towards a plan to put in place over the next few years to make it safe for us to consider coming here and fulfilling that obligation in the second half of 2022.
“In an ideal world, which we don’t live in, obviously we want major cricketing nations to be playing most of their cricket or lot of their cricket at home. It’s really important.
“International cricket has got such a wonderful opportunity, it’s such a wonderful sport. We have seen the popularity of the game, I feel, that it is a growing sport globally. So, it is really important that the international cricket community comes together and provides the foundation and opportunities for everyone to play at home.
“Actually, international cricket is quite good at that. I think we do take good care of one another. And that is really important because for us to be able to compete with all of the different choices the young people, the adults have got to spend their spare time, we need to make sure that cricket is right in the forefront of their minds.
“We take the opportunity to put cricket on the map wherever we can. The one thing I have to add to that is conditions have to be right.”
Looking ahead to Pakistan’s next year’s tour of England for three World Test Championship Tests and three T20Is, the ECB chief executive said: “We love hosting Pakistan. It’s been fun to see the engagement of our English cricket community with the Pakistan team, particularly in the short format. We have seen incredible support for the T20 Internationals. We have obviously seen the one-day series that proceeded the 2019 ICC World Cup which was absolutely brilliant.”
Meanwhile, Deutrom said, “Cricket Ireland is now a Test nation and we certainly feel it is important that we play our part in being a mature and grown-up member of the cricket family. We want to play our part in assisting getting international cricket back in Pakistan.
“To be honest and just at a very human level until you see it with yourself, you come with a set of conceptions or preconceptions, and I think this visit, which was generously made at the invitation of the PCB, would begin to change those perceptions.
“What we saw in Islamabad and Lahore is the extraordinary lengths to which the cricket authorities, the security authorities, the government and police, everyone has been working incredibly closely together to building that confidence.
“It begins to build a sense of OK, well, what are the reasons now to say why wouldn’t we come if we have had all these sensitive comforts provided to us. So, it is the beginning, I believe, of a conversation,” Deutrom was quoted as saying.
Published in Dawn, October 12th, 2019