ICC official urges caution in bringing international cricket back to Pakistan

Lahore [Pakistan], Jan. 29 : Giles Clarke, an International Cricket Council (ICC) official, who is the chairman of the ICC's Pakistan's Task Force, has asserted that it would be a herculean task to bring back international cricket to Pakistan requiring "a lot of time and hard work".

Clarke, who is also the president of the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB), arrived in Lahore yesterday on a fact-finding mission to inspect security arrangements that can be put in place for the visiting teams.

After the visit where he met with senior officials of the Punjab government, including the Chief Minister and the Home Secretary, Clarke, while addressing a press conference at the National Cricket Academy at the Gaddafi Stadium, praised Punjab's government for "significant investment" in safety and security arrangements for potential touring aides.

However, he pointed out that the observations were not to serve as a replacement for expert advice and said, "I have to receive a proper report from my experts." "But speaking as a non-expert, I was deeply impressed by the size of the investment, and the passion of everyone I've met from the chief minister downwards, the desire and determination to see international cricket return to Lahore was absolutely there.

It is a goal of the ICC that every Full Member plays international bilateral cricket in their own country.

But for us to do that, we need everyone to be safe and secure," ESPNcricinfo quoted him as saying. Pakistan have not hosted any international cricket tournaments since the terror attack on the Sri Lankan team bus in Lahore in 2009,when six Pakistani Policemen were killed and some of the visiting players were injured.

The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) was in talks with the MCC at the time for the latter to send a cricket team to Lahore, but the terror attack put an end to that.

"We don't want to get it wrong," Clarke said. "We all know one terrible incident can push things backwards again. What happened here in one of Lahore's parks did make it impossible for us to send a team here last year.

So we're hoping to move forward, but this isn't an easy road." The ICC official further said that there's a considerable amount of perception that needs to be changed and information that needs to be shared.

"But I am most impressed by the efforts of the authorities to make Lahore a safe city," he asserted. The Federation of International Cricketers Associations (FICA) has earlier this month advised players not to tour Pakistan due to an extremely elevated state of insecurity in the country.

The cricket federation, citing unnamed security consultants, had termed Pakistan as an unsafe place to play cricket.

However, Clarke didn't comment on that statement, saying he hadn't discussed that statement with FICA, or read it in full.

"I was far more interested in coming here for myself before I opened that conversation," he said. The West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) had also this month rejected the proposed tour to Pakistan after the security concerns raised by FICA.

Source: ANI