Managing Director of the Pakistan Cricket Board, Wasim Khan, has reiterated his desire for England and Australia to tour Pakistan in the near future.
In the role since December 2018, Khan, who was the first British-born Asian cricketer to play professionally in the UK, thinks that there is a chasm between the global slant and reality on the ground in Pakistan. He said: “There’s this perception that it’s some kind of war-torn country, whereas in reality most of the big cities have been fine for a long time. I live in Lahore now and I see backpackers everywhere, loving their experience.”
Speaking on the Wisden Cricket Weekly Podcast, Khan indicated the importance of one of the larger Test playing nations “taking the first step” and returning to tour Pakistan for the first time since masked gunmen attacked a bus containing the Sri Lanka team in March 2009. He wants Pakistan to be able to “evidence what they can deliver” to a global audience and inferred the country has come a long way from the political landscape that gave birth to the 2009 attack.
“It’s a big part of my role, we’ve got a series against Sri Lanka in September, we’re hoping that will be played in Pakistan, but we need to have those conversations with the Sri Lanka cricket board. We’re also hoping that we can work really closely with the ECB to put steps in place so that there is every chance that the series with England in 2022 happens in Pakistan. Australia, as well, in 2022, so that gives us enough time to evidence what we can do.”
His message is very clear – “Pakistan needs cricket back in the country.” Khan spoke hopefully and eruditely on the matter and thinks that the eight PSL (Pakistan Super League) games in Karachi earlier this year demonstrated not only Pakistan’s capability of hosting high level cricket but also the passion that exists in the country for the day.
“The people are starved of cricket, they (the PSL games) were all sold out, we had 40-45,000 at every single game and probably could have sold it twice over,” added Khan. “We need our role models playing in Pakistan because we need the next generation of players to look up to those role models and say ‘look, I want to be a Pakistan cricketer.’ It’s a great competition, it’s a good product. We’ve just completed the fourth season of the PSL and it’s something we want to grow but bring back to Pakistan, so that our supporters across the country can see their heroes playing.”
Despite a recent incident, which Khan describes as a “farce”, in which five of the PCB Board of Governors called for his removal as MD and walked out of a meeting, forcing its adjournment, he seems confident that Pakistan may finally be able to rise above the politics that has held back their staging of international fixtures for over a decade.