ISLAMABAD: PCB chairman Najam Sethi Wednesday said Pakistan are slated to play four bilateral series against India till 2019 in new International Cricket Council programme sent to all the Test playing nations.
Talking to The Nation from London, Seth said the ICC was favouring Pakistan in its new plan for as the Future Tour Programme (FTP) had been abolished and the ICC had sent all Test playing nations new proposals for playing eaxh other.
“I along with Subhan Ahmed will proceed to Auckland, New Zealand on October 9 to participate in the ICC meeting. If the Indians give us a positive response and are willing to come on table for negotiations, we are ready to discuss and if they are still not in a mood to let commonsense prevail, then let me assure all, we are ready to go all out to fight for Pakistan cause. Our case is almost ready and we will file the case against the BCCI and will never back off from our principle stance.”
He said the ICC had scrapped the old FTP, which was based from 2014 to 2022 and after the demise of Big Three, the ICC had sent new proposals and is willing to compensate Pakistan and provide equal rights to all the member boards.
“We are ready to sit on table with India and resume bilateral cricketing ties with archrivals. If they are willing to resume cricketing ties, which are in the best interest of cricket and can bridge gap as people want to watch Pakistan-India in action again, it would be good for cricket and if they don’t then we are ready for the next step.
Sethi also said that after Lahore, which recently hosted PSL final and World XI series, Karachi is next to host PSL fixtures first and then international matches.
“For the time-being, it would be difficult to convince international teams and players to agree to play in other cities, as ICC has given permission of playing matches only in Lahore, after witnessing the PSL final and World XI series here at the Gaddafi Stadium.”
He said Pakistan team is also in transition period like the West Indies and Sri Lanka, but it is better and stronger than these two. “I think Pakistan team is good enough to beat the West Indies in the best-of-three series in November and it can also beat Sri Lanka in Tests, ODIs and T20s. One of the T20 matches of the series will also be played in Lahore according to the plan. When we look at our history, we have never lost in UAE and had managed to beat the likes of Australia, England, West Indies, Sri Lanka and all the major Test-playing nations. We are formidable and almost unbeatable at our second home UAE.”
About returning full-fledged international cricket to Pakistan, Sethi said: “One must understand that we have to convince the ICC and international teams that terrorism is slowly and gradually declining in Pakistan. We could easily host 20,000 plus spectators at Gaddafi Stadium, which is equipped and well-maintained, so I don’t think there is any problem in hosting matches in Lahore.”
“We are also working on improving National Stadium in Karachi, we can host 6000 plus spectators there, but it would take around a year or two before making it a well-furnished venue. We can’t prepare the stadium in next three months, so let us work on this. We are paying full heed towards convincing the ICC and international teams to visit other major cities and right now after Lahore, our main focus is Karachi. It is easy for us to host a few PSL matches in Karachi and we can manage a crowd of around 6000 or more, but not more than that, as maintenance and renovation work is under progress in the stadium,” he added.
When asked about playing international cricket in Multan, Faisalabad and Rawalpindi, Sethi said: “Off course, international cricket can be held in these cities. But right now, we have been facing lot of security problems even during domestic matches, especially in southern Punjab, so we need little bit up gradation. Sometimes due to security issues, district administration doesn’t allow us to conduct domestic tournaments, but gradually, we will improve it. The maintenance and renovation work of other major stadiums are also in progress. Once international community is convinced that security situation has improved in Pakistan, international cricket will return to each and every major city of the country.”
Sethi said the PSL is coming to Pakistan which will provide cricket-crazy nation ample chances of witnessing the super stars playing in front of them.
“After successful conduct of World XI, things are changing fast and I can feel that the ICC and other major stakeholders are now serious about Pakistan cricket and helping us in reviving full-fledged cricket here.”
He said victory in the Champions Trophy proved the world that Pakistan can no longer be set aside and the world has to take Pakistan cricket onboard and for the sake of cricket, international cricket should return to this sports-loving country.
“All have witnessed that how much respect and hospitality we extend to our guests. The way, the people thronged the Gaddafi Stadium and remained disciplined and cheered for both the teams, is a clear indication that Pakistanis love sports and know well how to welcome the guests,” Sethi concluded.