KARACHI: The International Cricket Council (ICC) CEO Haroon Lorgat has renewed hopes of a Pakistan-India series in the near future by confirming that while political differences between the two countries do not allow a home series for either team, the postponed tour can take place at a neutral venue.
Lorgat, while speaking exclusively to The Express Tribune during his World Twenty20 trophy tour of Karachi, also assured Pakistani fans that the ICC was taking up the issue of lack of international cricket in Pakistan, instead of isolating the country. “India was due to tour Pakistan in early 2009 but they cancelled that series because of political reasons,” said Lorgat.
“But they have to fulfil the obligation before the next FTP that begins in 2012. We can’t force any country to play if political or security reasons prompt their government to instruct them not to play in a country but such a series can be held at a neutral venue.”
The Pakistani fans have been feeling isolated of late as, together with the foreign teams’ reluctance to tour the troubled land, the ICC has also been forced to move tournaments away from the country. The Champions Trophy 2008 was first postponed and then moved to South Africa and Pakistan was removed as co-host of the 2011 World Cup that led to its cricket board filing a legal case against the ICC.
The case was later withdrawn and the PCB was awarded ‘significant compensation’. The forced and justified move on the ICC’s part led to a negative perception of the organisation but Lorgat confirmed that they were practical moves and taken considering the betterment of the sport in general.
“We took the decision for the right reason. There wasn’t anything funny about it and we didn’t intend to hurt Pakistan cricket or its fans. It was purely a practical and cricketing reason and the negative perception of the ICC was, indeed, unfortunate. At the back of our minds we know that the Pakistani people feel as if they’ve been let down but that’s not something we wanted to do.”
The legal case, according to Lorgat, was a case of the “Pakistan board being mis-informed” as opposed to it being unhappy over the decision. “The 50-over World Cup is the ICC’s flag-ship event. It takes a long time to prepare and we have no option but to deliver it successfully.
We learnt from the Champions Trophy postponement and acted upon the advice to remove Pakistan as co-hosts early as no teams were willing to play there.” While Pakistan longed to play international cricket last year, the willingness to host matches at a neutral venue has increased its international commitments significantly. Lorgat, however, reminded the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) not to neglect domestic cricket to ensure the players remain competitive and fresh for matches the fans remain interested.”
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