DUBAI: The International Cricket Council (ICC) has congratulated Pakistan for the successful hosting of the Independence Cup series against the World XI at the Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore, the international cricket body said in a statement.
ICC Director Giles Clarke and Chief Executive David Richardson – in their video messages – have thanked the people of Pakistan for embracing the World XI players, adding that the series has exhibited Pakistan’s passion and love for cricket.
Calling the series as an initial step towards resumption of ‘bilateral international cricket’, the ICC officials indicated that the next step would be a tour by a Full Member country as opposed to a composite side, adding, the series has demonstrated the country’s ability to provide an environment in which international cricket stars can show their talent.
“The team received a quite extraordinary reception, and for all of us, we did our best to interact with the crowd. The reaction of the Pakistanis who were at the ground is something I have never seen in my life. They were so pleased, saying thank you, and they were so excited by the players being there,” said ICC director Clarke, who attended the first two matches.
“I felt the tour unleashed the deep and powerful emotions that exist around cricket in this country’s makeup and its society,” he added.
Lauding the efforts of Punjab government and all authorities concerned, the ICC director said that due to their equally extraordinarily competent detailed planning, the series was staged successfully.
“I think this courageous team, its management and all the people in Pakistan who have been involved, have demonstrated that it is possible for overseas players to come to Pakistan and show their skills in Pakistan and be able to give the people of Pakistan the chance to watch their own heroes in action against the best international players,” he added.
Richardson, who attended the second T20I, lauded the security arrangements which were “implemented so well, we can call it a success.”
“..Over the past 12 to 24 months, the improvements that have been made by the Pakistan security forces in, first of all, bringing the threat down and secondly, improvements made in security arrangements, that was a catalyst for now moving from that phase of playing international cricket in neutral territories to try to make an effort to bring international cricket back to Pakistan,” he said.
The ICC chief said the resumption of full-time international cricket in Pakistan is not going to be an “overnight miracle”.
“It has to take time. The PSL final was the first step, this is the second. We have now shown that events can be staged in one city over a short period of time in a Twenty20 format. Now, the next steps have to be taken, meaning can they be rolled out in more than one city over a longer period of time..”
“The warmth, that welcomed the players and teams back, was really heartening to see. Probably the fact that there is still such warmth and support for cricket has really been the reason why Pakistan has been able to be competitive even though it is not playing matches at home,” he stated.