Sydney: A top Pakistan Cricket Board official says his country has lost serious income and a generation of players because it couldn’t host a Test match at home for a decade.
"We've probably lost part of a generation (of potential cricketers) because they've not been able to grow up watching their heroes,” PCB chief executive Wasim Khan told the Australian Associated Press. "We want players to be playing at home so our kids can be inspired to want to become cricketers, take up the game, like any other country."
Pakistan last hosted a Test match in March 2009, when a terrorist attack on the Sri Lanka team’s bus at Lahore left eight people dead and injured several Sri Lankan players.
Incoming tours were canceled amid security concerns, and Pakistan lost it rights as a co-host of the 2011 Cricket World Cup.
Since 2009, the United Arab Emirates has been Pakistan’s primary home away from home, but Khan said it cost the cricket board heavily to host teams at a neutral venue.
"It's difficult to put a figure on it but it would probably run into a few hundred million (dollars)," Khan told AAP in Australia, where Pakistan will play a two-Test series starting Thursday in Brisbane. “We've had to play in the UAE and it costs us huge amounts of money ... I don't think we can financially sustain ourselves if cricket keeps getting played in other areas.”
The PCB has long been seeking to regain the confidence of foreign teams that it’s safe to play in Pakistan.
Foreign players have visited Pakistan and played in the Pakistan Super League matches at Lahore and Karachi for the last three years.
Zimbabwe, West Indies, a World XI and Sri Lanka have also visited for limited-overs series in recent seasons and now Pakistan is set to host Sri Lanka at Rawalpindi and Karachi for the two Test matches next month.
Khan said for the last two to three years there have been no terrorism incidents in any major city of Pakistan.
"Terrorism is a scourge for everybody and we've probably lost more people to terrorism in Pakistan than any other country, but I firmly believe that all those things are behind us now," he said. “There's a perception in the outside world which is not a reality of what's going on in Pakistan."
Australia has not toured Pakistan since 1998 but Khan hoped to organize a series at home within three years. Australians Tim Paine, Ben Cutting and George Bailey played with the World XI team for three Twenty20s matches at Lahore in 2017.
"We know it all comes down to the players," Khan said. "Players have to feel confident. They have to feel comfortable in the environment they're coming into."
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