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PCB seeks PM's help on international cricket revival

17 December, 2013

LAHORE: Pakistan's cricket chief has sought the help of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif as he tries to revive international cricket in the troubled country after a hiatus of nearly four years.

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Pakistan has not hosted any international cricket since a deadly militant attack on the Sri Lankan team bus in March 2009 in Lahore, which prompted foreign teams to boycott tours to the troubled country. Pakistan twice tried to arrange limited-overs series against Bangladesh last year, but on both occasions the tour did not come off because of security fears. The Pakistan Cricket Board's interim chairman Najam Sethi said he has sought Sharif's help. "We have requested the Prime Minister to help us in this regard and we are going to meet him very soon," Sethi told reporters late Sunday.

With no team willing to tour the country, Pakistan have been forced to play their home series at neutral venues in the United Arab Emirates and England. The PCB, under former chairman Zaka Ashraf, had tried to bring cricket back to Pakistan, inviting foreign players to participate in a Twenty20 league, but the plan was later shelved. The PCB had invited the Bangladesh Cricket Board for a series in 2012, but Bangladesh withdrew after committing to the tour. The West Indies Cricket Board had also refused to send its A team to Pakistan.

"We have been endeavouring to host matches, we want our grounds to be full of fans and we want our fans to cheer the teams, so meeting the PM will help," said Sethi, who took over in July this year. The opposition Pakistan People's Party last week submitted a parliamentary motion calling for the revival of cricket in the country, and urged the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-N to act swiftly. Sethi welcomed the motion. "It's a welcome sign and it will help," said Sethi, who also urged a clean-up of the domestic cricket structure. "If I get full powers I will definitely clean up the domestic cricket structure which is rotten," said Sethi, whose powers were curbed by Islamabad's high court in October. An appeal against the court's decision is due to be heard later this month.