Pakistan Cricket Board Chairman Ehsan Mani said on Thursday that international cricket will return to Pakistan later this year when the country will be hosting matches for the Asian test championship against Sri Lanka in September and Bangladesh in January/February next year.
“This is very good news for Pakistan cricket and it will herald the resumption of international cricket in Pakistan,” he said while taking to media at Lahore’s Gaddafi Stadium.
Mani said the ICC test championship is spanned over two years and will end in year 2021.
“We will host the Sri Lankan team for two test matches of this inaugural edition of the event in September then our team will be flying to Australia in October/November for one day and night and one day test of the championship,” he said.
He revealed that the Sri Lankan team will then play bilateral series in Pakistan in December this year which will feature three one day internationals and similar number of T20 matches.
The PCB chief said PCB is trying to persuade the foreign teams to visit Pakistan and in this regard he is utilising his experience of heading the International Cricket Council and his personal relations with different cricket boards.
“We want to see our cricket arenas having international cricket activities on a regular basis, the way it used to be in the past and we are speeding up our efforts and contacts with cricket playing nations, as [now] things have improved a lot as far as the security situation is concerned,” he said.
Mani said that after the tour by Sri Lanka, the Bangladesh team will be visiting Pakistan to play two test matches of the ICC test championship in January/February next year which will be followed by three T20 matches of a bilateral series between Pakistan and Bangladesh.
“I am confident that with the successful holding of these events we will be able to send a positive message to the world that things have become conducive in Pakistan as far as the holding of international cricket matches is concerned,” he said.
He said that the chairman and the Chief Executive Officer of Cricket Australia will be visiting Pakistan in September this year to review security arrangements.
“The CEO of the England and Wales Cricket Board will also be visiting Pakistan later this year to see the security arrangements in Pakistan,” he added.
“These visits by the Australian and England cricket high ups will be very important to ascertain the security situation in Pakistan and to assess the possibilities of their respective teams visiting in due course of time.”
Bilateral cricket with India
Mani said he has the same old stance on bilateral cricket with India: it (India) should visit Pakistan first to fulfil its bilateral commitment of playing cricket.
“We will not beg India or any other country to play cricket with us; we want resumption of bilateral cricket ties with India in a decent and dignified manner,” he asserted.
The PCB chief said Pakistan’s women team will be visiting India this November to play matches of the ICC women championship and the team’s participation will help PCB to know how serious the Indian board is to resume bilateral cricket ties with Pakistan.
All PSL 5 matches in Pakistan
Mani also expressed confidence that all matches of the fifth edition of the Pakistan Super League shall take place in Pakistan.
“We have identified four venues. We are working on making that a reality and have begun improving the stadiums. Unfortunately, over the past ten years these stadiums were not maintained because Pakistan did not have international cricket,” he said.
The PCB chairman said that maintenance and upgradation had already largely been carried out in Karachi before PSL 4 and in Lahore, too, stands complete to a large extent. He said work was now being done at the Rawalpindi and Multan stadiums.
‘Have done my best’
The PCB chairman said that 85 per cent task on his agenda to make the PCB a professional organisation through quality management and governance and to make domestic cricket tough and competitive besides forwarding recommendations in the PCB constitution to the quarters concerned has been achieved, which will help make the PCB a role model organisation in due course of time.
“During my so far almost nine months in office, I have done my best to introduce a new culture of quality management, besides making recommendations in the PCB constitution to bring overall improvement in domestic cricket and in the organisational set-up of the PCB,” he said.
“I feel content so far in my endeavours,” he told the media.