West Indies mull playing T20s in Pakistan

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West Indies are considering to tour Pakistan for two T20Is in March this year, subject to security clearance and agreement from the West Indies Players’ Association (WIPA), after receiving a proposal and security plan from the PCB.

“There is an offer [from the PCB] to play two T20 matches in Pakistan, subject to Players’ Association agreement and security clearance,” Roland Holder, WICB manager of cricket operations, told ESPNcricinfo.

“The WICB has received a security plan from the PCB, which we have forwarded to our internal security manager, WIPA and an independent international security firm whom we have also engaged to provide a security report. WIPA and WICB are carrying out its own due diligence prior to making a determination as to the security situation since the safety of the players and staff is paramount. Once those reports are received a final decision will be made after WICB conducts a recce of the venues.”

Over the recent ICC meetings, the PCB has managed to convince the WICB to consider visiting Pakistan. Lahore is likely to host West Indies for two T20s on March 18 and 19. The two teams will then move to Lauderhill in Florida for two more T20s.

West Indies allrounder Andre Russell had become the first high-profile overseas player in the inaugural Pakistan Super League (PSL) to express a willingness to play in Pakistan. Former West Indies captain Darren Sammy had also said he would travel to Pakistan subject to security clearance.

 

The PCB has also been initiating steps to host the 2017 PSL final in Lahore on March 9. This again is subject to security clearance and the PSL management is likely to take a final decision by February 25, three days before the start of the playoffs.

According to PSL chairman Najam Sethi, the Punjab government has given the board a go ahead, but, according to Urdu Jang, a local daily, some players are reluctant to tour Pakistan. The PCB bought four bulletproof buses, following Zimbabwe’s visit, in July 2016, to improve security. The board hopes the additional security measures would help convince players.

FICA, the international players’ association, however, said that the advice it has received concerning security in Pakistan is that travel to the country is still a risk for international players. FICA’s comments came a day after the PCB said it would host the 2017 PSL final in Lahore, after conducting the league stage and the semi-finals in the UAE.

Tony Irish, FICA executive chairman, was still uncertain about the possibility of the PSL final going ahead in Pakistan.

“We are in the process of obtaining updated security advice on playing the PSL final in Lahore,” Irish had said. “We don’t expect much change in the advice previously obtained, but will await the updated situation and then communicate to players. As previously pointed out players play in the PSL as individuals and therefore each make their own decisions on whether to play in Lahore or not. The security risks as communicated by FICA are a factor in their decision making.”

Last year, Zimbabwe became the first Full Member nation to tour Pakistan since 2009, when an attack on the Sri Lankan team bus resulted in the suspension of international cricket from Pakistan. The ICC, however, refused to send its match officials for the series in May 2015.

Pakistan then appointed their own match officials, and hoped the Zimbabwe series would serve as a stepping stone to revive international cricket in the country. That ambition, however, suffered a setback when a suicide attack took place near the Gaddafi Stadium during the second ODI. Zimbabwe, though, played the third and final ODI two days later and completed the tour. (ESPNCrininfo)

Umar Farooq is ESPNcricinfo’s Pakistan correspondent.

 

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