Najam Sethi: PCB taking step-by-step approach to end isolation

In a chat with Sportstar, the newly elected Pakistan Cricket Board chairman says it is leaving no stones unturned to ensure the upcoming Twenty20 series between Pakistan and World XI is conducted smoothly.

Najam Sethi... “We are taking it step-by-step.”   -  AP

Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chief Najam Sethi believes the three-match series between Pakistan and World XI that begins next week will encourage cricket teams to tour the country. International cricket has largely been absent in Pakistan since 2009.

In an exclusive chat with Sportstar on Tuesday morning, the newly-elected PCB chairman makes it clear that the Board is leaving no stones unturned to ensure a smooth sailing for the tournament that begins in Lahore next week. While no BCCI official will be present for the event, ICC chairman Shashank Manohar has been invited to grace the occasion.

Excerpts:

International cricket is set to return to Pakistan after a long time. What are the areas PCB is working on to ensure a smooth sailing?

We, at PCB, are working on two fronts. Ensuring foolproof security by involving international security experts with SOPs of Punjab government, and progressively holding Pakistan Super League (PSL) matches in Pakistan with foreign players so that windows of confidence can be created for full series in due course.

With most of the teams not willing to tour Pakistan earlier, do you think this tournament can change their mindset, paving way for cricket to return to the country?

Yes. Holding the PSL final in Lahore last March paved the way for the World XI which will pave the way for Sri Lanka to play a match in October. That will pave the way for the West Indies to play three matches in November. We are taking it step by step. That's our approach.

Are there any big names who are being invited for the tournament?

The World XI has all big names from seven full member ICC countries. What more can anyone want?

Is the PCB inviting any of the board officials or dignitaries from India?

There seems to be no point in inviting BCCI officials to visit Pakistan when they are not even prepared to play us in a secure third country.

But then, there were rumours that the PCB has invited ICC chief Shashank Manohar? How true is that...

Yes, I am inviting Mr Manohar as ICC head to watch the ICC-Pakistan series.

Will this also strengthen PCB's case of bringing back India-Pakistan bilateral series?

Unfortunately India-Pakistan sporting ties are held hostage by the Indian government. The BCCI and PCB are contracted to play. But the BCCI says the Indian government has not permitted it to play Pakistan in a bilateral series but it can play Pakistan in any multilateral competition. Amazing logic!

There are reports that PCB is planning to honour its past captains during the tournament. Is that true?

We are holding our Annual Awards Ceremony on September 14 th during which we shall also honour Misbah ul Haq, Younis Khan and Shahid Afridi.