World cricket’s governing body plans to send a team of international players to Pakistan in September as part of efforts to revive home fixtures disrupted by a deadly militant attack in 2009, officials said on Tuesday.
The announcement comes days after the final of the Pakistan Super League was held in Lahore without incident.
Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) Chairman Shaharyar Khan said the PSL event, which featured foreign stars and was hailed by fans as a unifying national force, had paved the way for the return of international matches. “I have received a letter from Giles Clarke, the head of a [International Cricket Council] task force on Pakistan, who has praised the successful staging of PSL final and has promised to bring a World XI in September,” Khan told AFP.
The Guardian had earlier quoted Clarke, who is also the president of the England and Wales Cricket Board, as saying: “The terrorists cannot win and cricket must not give up on Pakistan.”
No major international team has toured Pakistan since Islamist militants attacked a bus carrying Sri Lankan cricketers in 2009, killing eight people and wounding nine including six visiting cricketers. Visits by minnows Afghanistan and Zimbabwe did little to calm the nerves of bigger opponents.
Khan added: “Clarke had come to Pakistan in January this year and was impressed with the security arrangements which we showed him for future matches.”
Sunday’s PSL final was held amid security that resembled a military operation, involving more than 8,000 heavily-armed police and paramilitaries. The World XI is expected to play four Twenty20 matches against a Pakistan XI on Sept. 22, 23, 28 and 29.
The visiting team will likely feature two-time World Twenty20 winner Darren Sammy and fellow West Indian Marlon Samuels as well as England’s Dawid Malan and Chris Jordan. Sammy had earlier told AFP he had felt safe playing in Pakistan.
“I had my doubts and fears before coming to Lahore and when I spoke to my mother she said ‘Go, boy, and play and I will be on my knees praying for you,’ and my wife said the same thing,” he said. “I am glad that I came for a cause and it was as safe as playing in St Lucia or India or anywhere in the world. Pakistan fans deserve to see their players playing, which they have not done for a while.”
The PCB is also hoping Bangladesh and Sri Lanka—whose security delegates visited Lahore for PSL final—will consider touring Pakistan later this year.