After nearly a decade of hosting no home Test matches due to a terrorist attack on a rival team’s bus in 2009, Pakistan says it is ready to welcome major cricketing nations like South Africa, New Zealand, England and the West Indies next year.
“We’re working hugely in terms of building relationships, nurturing those relationships with [other] cricket boards,” Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chief executive Wasim Khan told reporters.
South Africa are due to visit Pakistan in January to play a two-Test series, which is part of World Test Championship, followed by three Twenty20s.
New Zealand are penciled in for three one-day internationals and five T20s in September, followed by two T20s against England in Karachi. It is to be England’s first tour to Pakistan since 2005.
The PCB has also plans a home series against the West Indies in December next year.
“We have a chock-a-block eight to 10 months coming up for us on the road playing at home,” Khan said. “We’re also in discussions with Cricket Australia. They’re due to be touring during the 2022 season, we’re looking at them coming for an extended period of time.”
When Sri Lanka’s team bus came under attack in March 2009, the doors of international cricket remained shut on Pakistan until Zimbabwe became the first Test-playing nation to play limited-overs series at Lahore in 2015.
A bus carrying the Sri Lanka cricketers, part of a larger convoy, was fired upon by 12 gunmen near the Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore. The cricketers were on their way to play the third day of the second Test against Pakistan.
Six Pakistan police officers and two civilians were killed, and six members of the Sri Lanka team were wounded. The rest of the Test match and tour was called off.
Test cricket only returned to Pakistan late last year when Sri Lanka played two five-day games in Rawalpindi and Karachi. Bangladesh also played a Test match before their second Test was called off due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In between the Zimbabwe and Bangladesh tours, a franchise-based domestic T20 league — the Pakistan Super League — played a big role in pressing Pakistan’s claims to host international games.
Players like Shane Watson of Australia and South Africans Dale Steyn and Faf du Plessis were among some big names who toured Pakistan and have played for city-based franchise teams.
Khan said that these players had a significant role in portraying Pakistan’s improving image among cricket-playing nations.
“A lot of these players go back to their own countries and say: ‘You know what? Pakistan is one of the safest places to play,’” Khan said. “These are those cricketers who are associated with their own cricket boards, who are international cricketers, who perhaps had a [different] perception of Pakistan before they came here.”
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