Pakistan news December 16, 2013

PCB seeks government help to revive cricket-venue status

The Pakistan Cricket Board's Interim Management Committee, led by Najam Sethi, has sought the help of the Pakistan government in an attempt to revive international cricket in the country. The board will soon meet Pakistan's prime minister Nawaz Sharif soon, Sethi said, adding that the support of the government could help get a chance to host international games.

"I really wish to begin a campaign and use all diplomatic channels for the return of international cricket to our country," Sethi said at a press conference on Sunday. "We want to host international matches and want our stadiums to be fully filled and fans cheering for the teams.

"We have requested the prime minister to help us in this regard and we are going to meet him very soon. He called us for a meeting a few days ago but it was canceled due to Chuck Hagel's (US Secretary of Defense) visit. But the meeting will be held soon. I think it will help. An adjournment motion has also been put in the assembly and I think that will also help."

Recently, the Pakistan People's Party, a leading political outfit, submitted an adjournment motion in Pakistan's National Assembly suggesting that the issue of the revival of international cricket in the country be discussed in the House. The motion said that it was unfortunate Pakistan did not host too many international games as the sport, apart from providing entertainment for cricket fans, was a major source of revenue.

Pakistan has not hosted an international game since March 2009, when masked terrorists attacked the team bus carrying Sri Lanka's cricketers in Lahore. Apart from injuries to Sri Lankan cricketers, the incident also resulted in the death of six security men and two civilians. Following the incident, Pakistan was stripped of its hosting rights for the 2011 World Cup.

Since the attack, Pakistan have played most of their 'home series' in the UAE. The PCB, under former chairman Zaka Ashraf, had tried to bring cricket back to Pakistan, inviting foreign players to participate in a Twenty20 league, but the plan was later shelved.

The PCB had invited the Bangladesh Cricket Board for a series in 2012, but Bangladesh withdrew after committing to the tour. The West Indies Cricket Board had also refused to send its A team to Pakistan.

Umar Farooq is ESPNcricinfo's Pakistan correspondent. He tweets here