Leaving aside the outpouring of public emotion that has engulfed the ongoing three-match Independence Cup, some former Pakistan cricketers called for patience in terms of full bilateral series returning to their country. Former Pakistan captain Rashid Latif described the event as “very important” but spoke about going step by step.
“These three T20s between World XI and Pakistan are very important in the context of Pakistan cricket. Zimbabwe had toured two years ago, but the ICC is involved in this, with some top cricketers from almost all Test-playing nations participating. It would have been great to see two-three Indian players in the World XI, but this is the first step towards normality with regard to international cricket in Pakistan,” Latif told The Indian Express.
The ex-stumper feels it would take about a year or two for Pakistan to host full international series. “Sri Lanka are coming here in October followed by the West Indies in next month. See, this is a step by step progress. First, we had the Pakistan Super League final (earlier this year). Now three T20s are being played. Maybe, the next step is to include an ODI with three T20 internationals. Then you incorporate a Test on the roster. But it will take time. I think at the moment a full series of three T20s, three ODIs and three Tests could be a little difficult. With the gradual increase in the confidence level of international players, we will move towards a full series,” Latif observed.
Resumption of India-Pakistan bilateral series was almost an inevitable part of the conversation and Latif stressed that both the BCCI and the Pakistan Cricket Board are suffering revenue losses because of the stalemate.
“Now all the money from India-Pakistan fixtures is going to the ICC. The India-Pakistan matches at the ICC events are the biggest reasons for the global body’s $2.2 billion profit (over an eight-year cycle). If the bilateral series resumes, the two cricket boards would be the biggest gainers. Money would come to the BCCI and the PCB coffers, rather than the ICC showcasing the India-Pakistan ties and profiting substantially from cricket’s biggest rivalry. India and Pakistan not playing against each other is benefitting the ICC.”
Shoaib Mohammad concurred. About international cricket’s return to Pakistan, he said: “This is just a baby step. International players will return to their respective countries and based on their feedbacks on security and the level of comfort, the cricket boards will decide their future course of action in terms of playing in Pakistan.”
The former Pakistan opener would have loved to see Yuvraj Singh (a Punjabi) playing for the World XI in Lahore (on the Pakistan side of Punjab). “Yuvraj’s popularity in Pakistan is massive. Even my father (the late Hanif Mohammad) was a great admirer of his stroke-playing panache. Fans here would have given Yuvraj a fabulous reception.”