01 May

Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) President Kumar Sangakkara has advocated a revival of international cricket in Pakistan, calling on powerhouses like England and Australia to take the initiative.

Sangakkara was part of the Sri Lankan team which was attacked by terrorists in 2009 near the Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore, but he says returning to Pakistan and playing cricket for the MCC was a good decision. In February, the Sri Lankan legend had travelled to Lahore for MCC’s Pakistan tour for a documentary called ‘MCC: On tour in Lahore’. The MCC won a 20-over match against Lahore Qalandars before losing by five wickets to the Pakistan Shaheens in a 50-over fixture two days later.

“It doesn’t matter an Asian side going there or a secondary side in terms of world prominence when it comes to having security measures in place,” Sangakkara told ‘The Cricket Show’ on the broadcaster Sky TV.

“I think it’s important that England or Australia, even South Africa, make up their minds to actually tour when security is assured and they have those discussions; the MCC tour will be a precursor to that.”

“It’s a funny thing. When I thought I’d go back to Pakistan after 2009 I was pretty sure it would not be to play cricket but here we were, 10 years down the line…,

“I was there after having retired donning my cricket gear on and playing in front of what I remember to be one of the best venues I’ve ever played at with so much support,” he said.

England last played a Test series in Pakistan in 2005 and since then Pakistan have played their home series at neutral venues against prominent teams.

Sangakkara said a full-fledged tour was not possible at this stage.

“I don’t think you are ever going to see in the near future a five-Test match series coupled with a one-day series played back-to-back.

“I think it will be more a case of you play two Test matches, you take a break, you go back and play three one-dayers,” he said.

“A strong Pakistan side playing in front of their home crowds is one of the best things that can happen to world cricket,” he added.

John Stephenson


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