Is it High Time for International Cricket to return to Pakistan
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News Analysis |

Legendary cricketers Sir Vivian Richards and Ian Chappell have called for the return of international cricket to Pakistan. They feel that the passionate crowds and players badly miss cricket at home.

Teams have continually refused to visit Pakistan on security grounds.

International cricket was suspended in Pakistan following the attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team in Lahore in 2009. Pakistan has been forced to play its home series in the UAE. Pundits hence hail Pakistan’s victories in two ICC tournaments during this time period, to include the recent Champions Trophy win as remarkable. Teams have continually refused to visit Pakistan on security grounds. However, Zimbabwe visited for a short tour in 2015 and the PSL final took place in Lahore in March this year where international stars to include Vivian Richards partook.

Chappell, the former Australian captain, and the renowned commentator said no international cricket action in Pakistan was a big problem too for the growth of the country’s cricket.

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Both Chappell and Richards were in Pakistan as part of the analysts’ panel of a Pakistani sports channel for the Champions Trophy which Pakistan lifted on Sunday.

He suggested the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) start with some small steps for reviving international cricket in the country.

“Don’t try for five Tests or something like that, just some small steps are needed to get the world comfortable with playing in Pakistan and then you can start taking bigger steps,” Chappell said while talking to a news channel.

Vivian Richards who is the mentor of the Quetta Gladiators feels at home in Pakistan and has visited the country frequently off-late.

Earlier in the month, Chappell had said that he feels safer in Islamabad than in London. He said that the cricketing nations must review their opposition to playing cricket in Pakistan, he was referring to the continuation of the Champions Trophy amid terror attacks in London.

Vivian Richards who is the mentor of the Quetta Gladiators feels at home in Pakistan and has visited the country frequently off-late.

“We came here for the PSL final [staged in Lahore in March this year] and the reception we got to see from the people shows how much they are starved for international cricket,” said Richards.

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“We have to find ways of restoring international cricket in Pakistan in a big way. When you look at the world in terms of security to be fair we are not safe anywhere,” Richards asserted.

Cricket should be hosted

Despite concerted efforts from cricket authorities in Pakistan, teams have largely been dissatisfied with the state of security in the country. The PSL final was skipped by most of the international stars and the foreign commentary panel. However, many international cricketers came to Lahore for the final and thoroughly enjoyed the razzmatazz and the buzz in the city. The packed Qadaffi Stadium gave the right optics for the world to see. Tight security arrangements ensured that nothing untoward happened but perhaps excessive security also gave the impression that all isn’t well.

Terrorism has been assiduously dealt with by the security forces of Pakistan. If anything, the military side of the campaign is in its last leg. The situation is safe enough to conduct this enamored sport, loved by one and all.

The proliferation of terrorist outfits have made it a global phenomenon, increasing the likelihood of its occurrence in other cricket playing nations, as it happened in England earlier this month during the Champions Trophy.

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As of now cricket can be organized under a great deal of protection given by security forces, much like it was organized in Sri Lanka even during the height of the civil war.

For the betterment of cricket in Pakistan, international teams will have to take the step forward and embrace Pakistan. The value and gloss that Pakistan brings to cricket is manifold; the breathtaking Champions Trophy victory is just a slight manifestation of it. The return of the cricketing fervor inside the stadiums of Lahore, Karachi and Multan is much-needed.

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