No Pakistani can forget that gloomy day in 2009 when the Sri Lankan team was attacked outside the Gaddafi Stadium. International cricket has been absent from the country’s stadiums after that unfortunate incident and the Pakistan cricket team has made UAE their home.
Pakistan Cricket Board has been constantly trying to bring international cricket back to Pakistan since its departure. Quite frankly, I haven’t been much of a fan of the PCB in general, but one has to appreciate their efforts and somewhat successes in bringing international cricket back home.
The first overseas team to visit Pakistan was Afghanistan in 2013. It didn’t matter much as Afghanistan wasn’t a test team back then and the matches they played were against the Pakistan A team, not the national team. Two years later, PCB managed to bring Zimbabwe, a test playing nation to Pakistan. But it turned out to be just a one-off thing and nothing significant happened after it.
The first ray of hope came in the form of the Pakistan Super League. PCB, despite several difficulties and hurdles, managed to host the PSL 2 Final in Lahore. And that was it, Pakistan witnessed a flurry of international cricket that year. ICC World XI and the Sri Lankan team toured Pakistan for T20Is. Big names including South African skipper Faf du Plessis, Aussie captain Tim Paine, former Windies captain Darren Sammy, former England captain Paul Collingwood and Hashim Amla were part of the World XI squad.
The road to the revival of international cricket continued the following year. 2018 had its fair share of international cricket too. Karachi joined the fun too this time as Lahore hosted the two eliminators and Karachi got the Final. Days after the Final, the historic National Stadium Karachi hosted Windies for a full three-match T20i series.
The NSK later that year co-hosted the Emerging teams Asia Cup as well. Speaking of the Asia Cup, another good news for Pakistan cricket came as The Asian Cricket Council gave PCB the hosting rights of the Asia Cup 2020. Though its too early to predict whether PCB will host it in Pakistan or elsewhere, but reports claim that PCB will try their best to host it at home.
Now that we are days away from entering the year 2019, PCB is hell-bent on reviving international cricket in Pakistan. PCB has announced that eight matches of PSL 4 will be held in Lahore and Karachi. The franchise owners are confident that they will be successful in convincing players to travel to Pakistan. The PCB is also in talks with their counterparts in Australia for an ODI series in Pakistan. Australia and Pakistan are scheduled to play a five-match series ahead of the World Cup.
The newly appointed Managing Director of PCB, Wasim Khan, in an interview, made it clear that his top priority is the return of international cricket to Pakistan. He hinted that he will try to bring County and MCC teams first to create a perception.
Wasim Khan is the first British born Muslim county player, an MBA from the University of Warwick and currently serving as the CEO of Leicestershire county. Wasim was also amongst the front-runners for the post of English Cricket Board’s Director Cricket after Andrew Strauss’s resignation.
PCB chairman, Ehsan Mani, faced a lot of criticism over Wasim’s appointment and his high salary package but Mani justified it and said,
‘I prefer one competent employee over ten incompetent employees.’