Pakistan Super League: I'm still hopeful, says Ashraf
12 February, 2013
KARACHI: For many, the abrupt postponement of the Pakistan Super League (PSL) has ended chances of revival of international cricket in the country at least this year, but Zaka Ashraf is still hopeful about bringing top-level action back in the country soon.
The PSL, considered as the only channel to convince international teams to return to Pakistan in the middle of security fears was postponed. One of the main reasons was the refusal of major boards to give No-Objection Certificates (NOC) to its players despite their 'willingness' to play in the proposed league in the country.
Pakistan has not hosted a major international team since the attack on the Sri Lanka team in Lahore in 2009, after which the team also lost the co-hosting of the World Cup in 2011.
A senior Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) official admitted that following the postponement of the PSL, the board was in a difficult situation regarding its bid to revive international cricket.
“No doubt the postponement is a setback, but it was inevitable,” the official told Our Sources.
He conceded that although the board was currently mulling over to hold the event in August after the tour of West Indies, the possibility of the competition remained an uncertainty.
“It's the year of general elections in the country and no one knows what might happen since changes in the government affect the board directly. The PSL was a major attempt on our part to urge teams to play in Pakistan. But since it remains uncertain this year, there isn't much hope regarding the return of international cricket soon.”
Ashraf not ready to surrender challenge
However, Ashraf, who took over as PCB chairman in 2011 with a goal to revive international cricket, expressed that his priority would remain the same.
Unlike his subordinates, the board chief felt the task is still possible this year.
“I am still hopeful,” said Ashraf, when asked to comment on his feeling of disparity.
He said it was just misperception about Pakistan that was making the foreign teams reluctant to visit the country.
“The areas plagued by terrorism are far-flung. The outside world does not realise the distance of the affected areas from our venues. We may have to change our strategy and work out a plan for the challenge. We will keep striving for the task.”
PCB to outline security measures to ICC, boards
While the PCB chief implies a change in strategy, another PCB official said the board was planning to give a presentation to the International Cricket Council (ICC) and other boards on the current situation in the country.
The official informed that the board has hired a senior Army official – a counter terrorism expert – to brief the concerned authorities about the security measures being made to ensure a safe event.
“The PCB can't get a significant breakthrough without winning the confidence of the ICC and member boards,” he said. “The presentation, which is expected soon, will be prepared extensively to define all the security plans for hosting a high-level event.”
“The outside world does not realise the distance of the affected areas from our venues. We may have to change our strategy and work out a plan for the challenge. We will keep striving for the task.”