Bari reveals plans for international cricket in Pakistan
Wasim Bari, the new PCB chief operating officer, has said Pakistan could see some international cricket within the next six months, which could herald a return to normalcy. He revealed a host of options he is pursuing to revive international cricket in Pakistan, including staging a series against arch-rivals India at a neutral venue, inviting a team of international players for a one-off Twenty20 game and having Sri Lanka visit Pakistan for a couple of Twenty20 internationals.
"It's certainly possible to have one or two international matches in Pakistan within the next six months," Bari told the News. "Once that happens, I'm sure that things will return to normal for Pakistan cricket.
"What we need to do is to break the ice. We desperately want to stage international games and will work on several options to ensure that it happens sooner than later. It's very important for our cricket to have regular matches against India. There is also this proposal of inviting a team like Sri Lanka for a couple of Twenty20 matches in Karachi."
Pakistan went off the radar as cricket hosts last March following the Lahore attacks when the visiting Sri Lankan cricketers were ambushed by unidentified gunmen on their way to the Gaddafi Stadium. Five cricketers, including Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara, were injured in the attack that also killed six security men and two civilians
Soon after, the ICC decided to switch Pakistan's share of 14 matches in the 2011 World Cup from the country because of security issues, leading experts to fear that international cricket might not return to Pakistan for the next several years.
Bari, 61, a former Pakistan captain, who replaced Saleem Altaf as PCB COO, remained optimistic given the ICC's assurance that it would provide complete support for the return of international cricket to Pakistan. "The ICC is very supportive and recently told us the security situation in Pakistan was improving, and that is certainly a good sign for us," Bari said. "It is a slow process but we will look into all these opportunities for the betterment of Pakistan cricket."
He said he and other senior PCB officialswould also keep in touch with the security authorities in a bid to ensure that the game makes a swift return. "It is very important to keep constant liaison with the government officials because they are the main stakeholders," Bari said.