Sunday Oct 18, 2020
Legendary cricketers Wasim Akram, Shahid Afridi and Rashid Latif have lauded the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) for putting in the hard work and utilising backdoor diplomacy to convince its English counterparts to seriously consider touring Pakistan.
The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) is currently reviewing a proposal for a brief tour of Pakistan comprising a three-match T20I series for January 2021 - an offer that The Guardian feels they would find it very hard to say no to.
Akram, in a PCB press release, detailed the work that went in over the past 12 months to be in this position.
"Knowing how the England and Wales Cricket Board operate, I know for sure they would not have made this decision overnight," he said.
"The process started 12 months ago with Tom Harrison’s visit to Lahore during Sri Lanka matches and following regular interactions with the PCB and other relevant stakeholders, they finally acknowledged they were considering a short tour to Pakistan.
“If this three T20I tour takes place next year in January, I am convinced this will be a massive step forward in helping Pakistan regain their lost glory. The series will surely attract young cricketers and motivate them to pick up the bat and the ball, exactly like I and the players of my era fell in love with the game after watching the greats of those times.
“I think the present PCB set-up has continued to live up to the expectations of the fans and cricket lovers with their clear vision and strategy, that it backed by their delivery."
While the PCB officials had insisted that Pakistan's recent tour of England had no bearing on any future commitments, Latif believes it must have also added weight to the proposal.
“At times backdoor diplomacy works and one had an idea that tour was indeed not useless. This is a good step, both by the ECB and the PCB," he said.
“England has always been the most significant force in cricket carrying a lot of weight and credibility. A tour by England, soon followed by a tour by South Africa, will mean a lot and will surely see the start of tours by countries such as Australia, New Zealand and the West Indies.”
Afridi promised English players that they would love their time in England and all but guaranteed that the English authorities would sanction the tour.
"This is a great development. Pakistan is as safe and secure a country as any in the world and we have seen in the last one year the regular tours of international teams and, of course, world’s leading players in the Pakistan Super League 2020," he said.
“All of them thoroughly enjoyed their tour and I am sure England cricketers will again have a great time and will enjoy the traditional Pakistan hospitality. I am positive that the England and Wales Cricket Board will accept the PCB’s invitation.
“At the same time, I want to congratulate the PCB on this development. We have seen great progress in terms of cricket returning to Pakistan under this set-up and this will be another significant series even, if it is for now only a T20 series.”