2010: Summer of Pakistan
It's been some week for Pakistan cricket. An incredible rush to the World Twenty20 title is followed by the wonderful news that Pakistan will be playing an unprecedented six Tests in England next summer. This is an unimaginable treat, even for somebody like me who has been watching Pakistan tours of England since the 1970s.
Delight, of course, is tinged with sadness that Pakistan will not be playing international cricket at home anytime soon, but I guess British Pakistani fans will not be complaining. Indeed, their passionate participation during the Twenty20 World Cup must have been the final clincher on a deal that has been cooking for several months. When the traditional Pakistani coach paraded around Lord's after last week's final, with celebrating supporters sitting on and hanging off every inch, it was a sign that the tide is turning favourably for Pakistan cricket.
Unusually for this blog, this is also a moment to congratulate all three cricket boards. The PCB has chosen an imaginative solution to a dreadful problem. Cricket Australia has been one of the least keen to visit Pakistan over the years but it has rarely been reluctant to play Pakistan elsewhere. It's not worth quibbling that it's only a two Test series. And the ECB has made an unprecedented decision in hosting a Test series between other nations.
Ultimately, the players did themselves the best favour by thrilling us during the World Cup. Star performances sell and Pakistan are box office again. Test series against Australia and England will be tough, especially for a sporadic Test playing nation. But tours of England are always invaluable learning experiences, and Pakistan have a good record in English conditions over the last twenty years.
2010 promises to be a dream come true for Pakistan cricket fans based in England. Indeed, it will be a relief for all Pakistan fans that their team will play the highest form of international cricket for a sustained period.
I'm finding this very hard to say but . . . well done Mr Butt.
Kamran Abbasi is an editor, writer and broadcaster. He tweets here