LAHORE – “I would be willing to travel to Pakistan if the second edition of Pakistan Super League (PSL) was to be held in Lahore or Karachi,” this is what West Indies’ fast bowler Andre Russel said while he was playing Pakistan Super League’s first edition in Dubai this year.
However Russel may need to fulfill his promise even before next PSL edition, as media reports suggest that Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) and West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) are in final talks to hold bilateral series in Pakistan in October this year.
South America -the countries who have joint cricket board called as West Indies- based Willow TV reported that a major breakthrough was made between two boards in latest communications and West Indies team may tour Pakistan in October 2016.
Meanwhile talks are also underway between PCB and Afghanistan Cricket Board for ODI and T20 series in Pakistan this April. Although no official announcement has been made yet, PCB is pretty much sure that the bilateral series with Afghanistan will take place as being discussed in media reports.
The PCB has also requested Centre, Punjab and Sindh governments for security assurances. The matches are expected to be played in Lahore’s Gaddafi Stadium and National Cricket Stadium, Karachi.
As per previously announced international cricket schedule, Pakistan team will visit England in July this, to play four Test games, 5 ODIs and one T20 match. The tour will end on September 7.
Pakistan has hosted only one Test playing cricketing nation, Zimbabwe, since March 2009 when a group of terrorists attacked Sri Lankan cricket team in Lahore while it was on way to Gaddafi Cricket Stadium to play against host country.
After years of negotiations and backdoor diplomacy, the PCB was successful to convince Zimbabwe cricket team to play in Lahore’s Gaddafi Stadium in 2015. Pakistan and Zimbabwe played an ODI and a T20 series during the tour.
However, unfortunately, the country was unsuccessful to attract any other nation to play in Lahore or Karachi despite assurance of extraordinary security measurements.
As a result the first edition of Pakistan Super League (PSL); which included international star cricketers like Shane Watson, Chris Gayle, Darren Sammy, Sangakara and many others; could also not be held in Pakistan. The PCB, however, managed to gather star cricketers in Dubai and Sharjah to play the first edition of T20 league.
Speaking at the opening ceremony of PSL, the PCB chairman Shaharyar Khan said he was hopeful about holding PSL in Pakistan next year or the year after that. But all of his hopes are directly linked with the willingness of international players to play in Pakistan in such a law and order situation.
In this context; Andre Russel, who played for Islamabad United at PSL, said that he was ready to play in Pakistan ‘due to some reason’ but he would be worried about his security based on his prior information about Pakistan and state of law and order in the country.
West Indian skipper Darren Sammy, who represented Peshawar Zalmi at PSL, also answered the same, extending his sympathies towards Pakistanis which were deprived of international cricket for years.
He said that he was not the one to make decision to visit Pakistan but the security agencies. Honestly we don’t make any of the such decisions, cricket boards and governments make decisions on our behalf but I do want Pakistanis to watch matches in their home grounds, he added.