By: Eastern Eye Staff
A top cricketing official urged caution on Saturday over efforts to revive international cricket in Pakistan, which has been suspended for nearly eight years due to security fears.
Pakistan have not hosted any major cricket event—barring a limited over series against minnows Zimbabwe in 2015—since a terrorist attack on the Sri Lankan team bus in Lahore in March 2009.
Last week, the West Indies refused to tour Pakistan for two Twenty20 internationals in March, citing refusal from players over security fears.
Giles Clarke, head of the Pakistan Task Team at the International Cricket Council (ICC), is currently making a two-day tour of Lahore to assess security arrangements for international teams.
Clarke met the chief minister of Punjab, Shahbaz Sharif, officials from the Pakistan Cricket Board and other security experts on Saturday.
“We are looking to establish a solid and reliable base upon which international bilateral cricket at all levels can return on a regular basis to Pakistan,” Clarke told media after his meetings.
He said he was impressed with the arrangements put in place but cautioned against rushing things.
“We know it’s important Pakistan play at home but we also know that we don’t want to get it wrong,” he said.
Clarke praised Zimbabwe for sending a team to Pakistan.
“Zimbabwe did a great job in coming to Pakistan and it was well organised and we wanted to build on that last year but a terrible incident happened in a Lahore park which derailed those efforts,” said Giles, referring to a bomb blast in March last year which killed 70 people.
Clarke stressed the ICC and the international cricket community “recognize the deep frustration of Pakistan cricket fans that they have been unable… to host other international teams here.”
“This isn’t an easy road,” he said, adding that it was unfortunate that Pakistan had to play its cricket at neutral venues in the United Arab Emirates.
But “you have to remember that an international team was actually attacked,” he added.