Islamabad: Cricketers from leading test teams South Africa, Australia and England have shown interest in playing in the new Pakistan Super League in March, manager director Salman Sarwar Butt said on Thursday.
National teams have avoided visiting Pakistan since the deadly attack on the Sri Lanka team convoy in Lahore in 2009, but individuals made up an international all-star team which met Pakistan in two successfully organized Twenty20s in Karachi in October.
"We are thrilled by the number of players and agents from several ICC member countries showing interest to play in the PSL," Butt said. "Players from South Africa, Australia, West Indies, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, England and Ireland have expressed their interest in the event."
The Pakistan Cricket Board is scheduled to launch the Twenty20 league in late March with at least 30 foreign players divided in five city-based teams yet to be named. Haroon Lorgat, the former chief executive of the International Cricket Council, is an adviser to the PSL.
The PCB sees the league as a steppingstone to reviving the confidence of foreign players that, for at least sports, it's safe to play in Pakistan.
"The best way for us to allay fears of the players is to provide top-level security for the event," Butt said. "The PSL will have a comprehensive security plan ... which would meet ICC standards. We are also planning to engage independent security experts to further augment our preparations and delivery."
Karachi and Lahore are the top contenders to host PSL. Lahore also hosted a sports festival in which athletes from 26 countries competed.
"We are confident that sports events and the PSL in particular, can be safely held in Pakistan," Butt said.
Butt said the PSL will also target big-name coaches for the league.
"I am not at liberty to divulge names but there are coaches and other support personnel from around the globe who have shown keen interest to participate in the PSL," he said. "We are keen to have them working alongside our local coaching staff so that we can learn and benchmark our own coaching skills and team management."