ICC: Improving security key in Pakistan hosting international cricket

The way to allow international cricket to occur in Pakistan is to convince most security experts about the safety of the country, according to ICC chief executive Dave Richardson.

Dave Richardson presents the ICC Test mace to Pakistan Misbah-ul-Haq.   -  K. M. Chaudary

Pakistan's officials must satisfy the concerns of visiting security experts if they want to host major teams again, the chief executive of cricket's world governing body said on Wednesday.

Most international sides have stayed away from Pakistan since an Islamist militant attack on the Sri Lankan team bus in Lahore in 2009, which killed eight people and injured several cricketers. In 2015 Pakistan hosted minnows Zimbabwe for a short limited-overs series - three One-Day Internationals (ODIs) and as many Twenty20s - but that failed to change the views of most security experts.

"It's actually quite easy for you to convince me that international cricket returns to Pakistan, but unfortunately it's not me or the ICC that needs to be convinced," said David Richardson, chief executive of the International Cricket Council (ICC). "It's the security experts, it's the security consultants who are advising the players, advising the teams, and that's really out of our control."

He was speaking in Lahore, where he came to present Pakistan captain Misbah-ul-Haq with a mace after his team climbed up to the No. 1 ranking in Tests.

Richardson's remarks come as England prepares to tour Bangladesh next month despite an attack on a Dhaka cafe in July that left 20 hostages, including 18 foreigners, dead. It was claimed by the Islamic State. Security experts cleared the tour on the assurances of the country's government and the Bangladesh Cricket Board.

Richardson acknowledged overall improvements in Pakistan's security situation, with a marked decrease in militant attacks and casualties this year and last. "I know that the Pakistan government and the Pakistan Cricket Board are doing whatever they can to try and persuade the people and make the security situation better in Pakistan. Pretty soon, we'll get to a situation where teams are willing to play international cricket in Pakistan," he said.

Creditworthy

Misbah, meanwhile, praised his players for making it to No.1 without playing at home. “We've been playing on foreign soil since 2009 but we are not only strong enough but we are right at the top, especially in the top format of this game," he said.

Players, he said, had to compete outside the country for almost six to seven months. "Credit should be given to the families."