Return of International Cricket to Pakistan

Sindh’s sports minister Dr.Mohammad Ali Shah took a great initiative by inviting an All Star XI to play two matches in Karachi. Although the visiting team’s members consist of cricketers from three full member countries of ICC we should try and invite players of other countries also. The initial effort was good and can be regarded as a first step in the direction of reviving international cricket in Pakistan.

9/11 attacks in USA changed a lot of things in this world. Afghan invasion by USA & Nato troops after these attacks put negative impact on cricket in Pakistan as most of the cricket playing nations refused to visit Pakistan to fulfil their international obligations.PCB with other friendly boards was trying to keep the cricketing activities in Pakistan alive and situation was improving but sadly visiting Sri Lankan team was attacked in Lahore in March 2009.This incident lead to a total halt of international cricket in Pakistan and also deprived Pakistan of an opportunity to host matches of 2011 Cricket World Cup.

Pakistan Cricket Board for the last three and half years was trying to invite a foreign team to Pakistan but teams felt threatened to visit Pakistan and sadly PCB failed in its efforts.

Sindh’s Sports Minister Dr. Mohammad Ali Shah applied a different strategy and invited players from different countries to play matches in Pakistan and his efforts bore fruits as an All Stars XI visited Pakistan in October and had a successful tour. It would have been so good for Pakistan if Sindh’s Sports Ministry and PCB organize this event jointly as sadly because of PCB’s lacklustre attitude, player of Brian Lara’s stature declined to visit Pakistan

Shahid Afridi & Sanath Jayasuria along with Sindh Sports Minister Dr.Mohammad Ali Shah at a ceremony

It is heartening to see that all the visiting players were happy and comfortable with the available playing conditions and the security provided to them and visitors who talked to media were upbeat & positive about the tour.

Matches were played in a cordial manner and players from both sides showed excellent sportsman spirit.

It was festive environment at National Stadium Karachi during the two matches. Crowd sang, danced and enjoyed every moment. The event gave good entertainment to the fun starved population of Karachi and provided them a rare opportunity to watch the world renowned players in action in their own backyard

The two matches played between Pakistan XI and All Stars XI can act as a first step toward revival of international cricket in Pakistan but real revival of international cricket is still a distant dream and required a lot of efforts on the part of PCB and its contemporaries to bring international cricket back to Pakistan.

PCB should now try to build on this initiative of Dr. Mohammad Ali Shah and invite more international players to Pakistan on regular basis to play matches in various cities of the country. Visit of more players will help in overturning the negative perception about Pakistan formed among global sporting fraternity.

Presence of PCB chairman Zaka Ashraf at National Stadium Karachi during the second match was a good omen which definitely sends positive signals to all cricket playing nations

PCB now  try and build on the success of these two matches .Players like Jayasuria, Andre Nel and other can be nominated a Pakistan’s brand ambassador and can be given the mission to speak positively about Pakistan among their friends & foes once they return to their respective countries as their words of praise for Pakistan and its hospitality will carry a lot of credence

The two matches played can act as a first drop of rain in a barren land. As an ardent cricket fan, I hope international cricket soon return to Pakistan and our deserted stadiums once again witness and enjoy the intriguing contests

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