The recent Independence Cup tournament in Lahore was a success, still, the ICC believes that the return of International cricket to Pakistan is not going to be an overnight miracle. Pakistan won the tournament, against the World XI, by a score of 2-1, after winning the final match.
The World XI played three T20 matches in Lahore on September 12, 13, and 15 which marked the return of international cricket to the country after an eight-year drought. The series turned out to be a success and the Pakistani fans were thrilled to experience a tournament on their home soil.
“I am very satisfied. Back in 2009, the confidence in the security situation in Pakistan was obviously at an all-time low. And following on, over the past 12 to 24 months, the improvements made by the Pakistan security forces was a catalyst for moving from that phase of playing in neutral territories to try to make an effort to bring international cricket back to Pakistan,” Richardson said to PTI.
“The main objective of that is to try to build confidence in the likes of the Australians, South Africans and other countries that the threat can be managed and this tour has shown — that is the case.”
Security arrangements were on point with 8,000 police and paramilitary forces guarding the teams everywhere and spectators had to pass through multiple security checkpoints, with most of the roads and shops being closed near the Gaddafi Stadium.
“The security arrangements were unprecedented, yes, they were severe, but above all, everybody realized that it is all very well to have a security plan on paper but can it be implemented? And that’s a question they answered in the affirmative,” Richardson said.
However, even after a successful tournament, Richarson said that the talks of a "miraculous return" of international cricket to Pakistan
“Returning full-time international cricket back to Pakistan is not going to be an overnight miracle. It has to take time. The PSL final was the first step, this is the second,” David Richardson added.
“We have now shown that events can be staged in one city over a short period of time in a Twenty20 format. Now, the next steps have to be taken, meaning can they be rolled out in more than one city over a longer period of time. Probably the next steps would be a tour of a Full Member country as opposed to a composite team.”
Pakistan secured the victory in the three-match series against World XI by a score of 2-1 after winning the third and final T20 by 33 runs in Lahore. ICC Director Giles Clarke attended the first two matches and stated that the World XI received an amazing welcome in Lahore and this event will turn out to be a significant step towards international cricket returning to Pakistan.
“The reaction of the Pakistanis who were on the ground is something I have never seen in my life. I think this courageous team, its management and all the people in Pakistan have demonstrated that it is possible for overseas players to come to Pakistan and show their skills,” Clarke said.
“It has been a fantastic tournament. From my point of view, as Chairman of the ICC’s Pakistan Task Team, I am very pleased that we have accomplished this and I am sure the players will talk to their colleagues and we will see the return of bilateral international cricket to Pakistan.”
Richardson said that the rationale behind organizing the Independence Cup was to demonstrate and make sure that hosting a tournament safely in Pakistan is possible.
“One of the main reasons for staging the tour was a stepping stone to building the confidence that even though there may be some danger to staging sports events or visiting Pakistan, the Pakistan security agencies are more than capable of mitigating that threat,” ICC Chief said.
“The security arrangements having being implemented so well, we can call it a success. The players that came on the tour witnessed the security arrangements firsthand and can go back and report back that although there may be some level of risk, it can be managed successfully.”
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