Islamabad: A top official of Pakistan Cricket Board has disclosed that the PCB was very close to inking a deal with its West Indies counterpart to have some limited overs matches in Pakistan but a terrifying bomb blast in Lahore derailed the plan.
Najam Sethi, who heads the PCB’s executive committee and has remained chairman of the Board, said that the West Indies were about to agree to play some limited over matches of the scheduled series in October-November in Pakistan.
“We had held successful negotiations with them. We had nearly convinced them that they needed to support Pakistan cricket by playing in Pakistan some of the limited over games scheduled in the UAE this year. We told them this gesture would help us convince other teams to also tour the country despite their security concerns,” Sethi said.
“We were close to inking a deal when the bomb blast took place at Gulshan Park in Lahore in March end and West Indies told us the security situation in Pakistan was not right for them to send their team at this time,” Sethi recalled.
Pakistan will now play the full series of Tests, ODIs and T20 matches in the UAE.
The PCB has been forced to hold its home series in UAE since 2009 after militants attacked the Sri Lankan team in Lahore. Since then only Zimbabwe, Kenya and Afghanistan have visited Pakistan for short tours.
Asked if the situation could change for Pakistan if Bangladesh managed to convince England to tour their country in September, Sethi said people around the world had different perceptions about the security situation in Pakistan.
“People tend to look at the situation in Bangladesh and Pakistan with different perceptions. In Bangladesh, they see the recent incidents as lone wolf attacks or by radicals. In Pakistan the perception is that there are full scale terrorist attacks and no one is safe from them,” he said.
He said other Boards fear their teams could be targets for terrorists to make a statement, especially after the attack on the Sri Lankan team.
“But we have been doing our utmost to convince other Boards to support us in revival of international cricket in Pakistan. Our cricket has suffered a lot because of this factor since 2009,” he said.
Sethi said he was talking to foreign players to come to Lahore to play the final of the second edition of the Pakistan Super League next year. He said the foreign players were being assured of top security arrangements if they agree to play the final at Lahore in a controlled environment.
He said the Board had purchased four bullet proof coaster buses for this purpose and was also building additional rooms at National Cricket Academy adjacent to the Gaddafi Stadium to reassure the foreign players they would well looked after well in Lahore.
Sethi, who heads the PSL secretariat, said foreign players would be paid extra financial incentives besides their normal fees if they agree to play the final if their franchise qualified for it.